Live from the Social Enterprise World Forum — Day 1

Well what can I say – what an amazing day!

The key themes to start the conference were ‘new markets, employment and sustainability’ three absolutely key issues for the growth of the sector. The first session kicked off with a well known TV presenter interviewing a panel collected from Australia, New Zealand and Tasmania exploring ‘the world is a village’ and the usefulness of social enterprise from a range of perspectives. These included young indigenous people without work and women who now have fewer places in Parliament, on boards of directors and as CEOs.

We explored how ‘profit’ can be thought of as the dark side if you don’t look at sustainability and consider the need to take a long term view not just a financial return. They asked people to watch money moving around communities to understand how money keeps communities alive and how the health of communities depends on enterprise to generate money. Therefore money = social capital!

We were asked to understand that the indigenous communities in Australia and New Zealand respect the past, the present and the future and therefore have 60-100 year plans that consider long term sustainability. They are preparing the world for their children, their children’s children and their children’s children’s children – we seem to have forgotten about this in the northern hemisphere and we need to redress it!

I attended a workshop on market making for the indigenous community in Australia and was one of only two international guests attending – I learnt much about enterprise and culture and ownership – and how very few enterprises there are owned by the Aborigines [0.17%] !!!! The other workshop was on guerrilla marketing – good fun!

I was very privileged this evening to hear the only indigenous opera singer – very famous internationally – she opened the Olympic Games in 2000. She told her very moving life story which was that she was one of the lost children who was taken from her aborigine mother at 3 weeks old and given to a white family to be brought up and then her subsequent journey to discover her roots. It was very moving and her singing was awesome!

Can’t wait for day 2!

Birmingham UK. Freelance research, evaluation and policy consultant specialising in social enterprise and the third sector. I maintain the BSSEC blog and website

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