Live from the Social Enterprise World Forum — Day 2

Let me tell you a joke I heard today: How many social entrepreneurs does it take to change a light bulb? 15: 2 for feasibility; 5 board members; 3 bid/tender writing; 3 delivering services; 2 to evaluate. I thought this was quite funny!

The themes for today were ‘pathways to success’ and ‘investment’ both key themes for the UK.

The first session was a debate on whether ‘there’s no business like social business’ – a comment made by Liam Black. The session was thought provoking with the 6 debaters taking opposing views. One of the speakers against was Andy Cooper CEO from LeapFrog Investments – the world’s first micro-insurance fund – honoured recently by former-President Clinton. It was really interesting because Andy was clearly struggling being against! The calibre of the speakers has been amazing and as usual you meet up with Brits you haven’t met before but who have wonderful ideas and practices.

Needless to say the debate was draw – It must have been fixed! It was a good way, though, to get some of the contentious issues out in the open like definition, like what’s the difference between private business doing social good and social enterprise? And you’re having no impact because you can’t prove it!

I went to a good session of the SE market place and how can we grow it internationally and I thought the following were really good pointers for development:

  • Developing a shared identity – using similar language, working with similar objectives
  • Knowledge and information development ie research and information base
  • Development of leadership and grassroots support
  • Investment
  • Creation of markets

Kris Prendergast called these ‘field’ building frameworks! She is the co-ordinator of the Social Enterprise Alliance in the States – I was rather pleased that her analysis rather matched up to our own thinking!

The second workshop was pathways for women social entrepreneurs – a truly inspirational session with presentations from the USA [Women’s bean project], UK [Sunderland Homecare] and South Africa [a SE development agency for women and excluded young people].

Other sessions today included a world café visiting 3 SEs in forty five minutes, a session on learning from inspirational social entrepreneurs and a closing session on shaping the sector for the next ten years.

Its been very good!

Next year the conference is in San Francisco on the 28th-30th April – all are welcome!

For the next 2 days I am visiting local social enterprises around Melbourne – so there’s more to come!

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

    Great report and loved the joke -it should however be extended to the holders of the public purse and consideration given as to whether it would in their case be 30 -lets be fair and share the critique.

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