Asian focus for 2016 Social Enterprise World Forum

Social enterprise enthusiasts from across the world are beginning to gather in Hong Kong for the Social Enterprise World Forum 2016, which begins on Sunday.

Reflecting this year’s host city, the event will have a ‘distinct Asian focus’, according to forum founder and CEO of Scotland’s CEIS Group Gerry Higgins.

“Hong Kong is a very strong city for social enterprise,” he said. “There are some really world class examples that people will be able to engage with while they are here.”

One of the unique features of social enterprise is how they work together

More than 1,000 delegates are expected at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre between 25 and 27 September. They will represent a wide range of countries, experience and backgrounds with the aim of sharing what they know and catalysing further change. The first Social Enterprise World Forum took place in 2008 in Edinburgh.

“One of the unique features of social enterprise is how they work together – unlike the mainstream business community,” said Higgins, who is also one of the directors for this year’s event.

“There are common values and sharing of expertise that the world forum has really served to develop.”

Speakers include Mark Surman, executive director of the Mozilla Foundation, Jack Sim, founder of the World Toilet Organisation (which created UN World Toilet Day) and Kathy Shein, director of Wi Tha Khar Social Enterprises, who believes that social enterprise is key in the empowerment of women.

New energy

Alongside delegates from countries with a long history of social enterprise, such as the UK, USA and Australia, there will be representatives from countries at an earlier stage of social enterprise development.

In Myanmar, for example, the new government is looking at how social enterprise can play a role in the country’s future. And in Taiwan there is huge energy around the emerging social enterprise sector with a significant number of delegates expected from this country.

However, the learning isn’t just one way, pointed out Higgins. “Emerging countries are interesting to the others for their different approaches.”

The forum will conclude with a handover to 2017’s host city, Christchurch in New Zealand, where the focus will be on the role of social enterprises in rebuilding and regeneration following the city’s earthquake in 2011.

  • To find out more, see the event website at Follow the event on Twitter via #sewf2016 and keep an eye on Pioneers Post for updates.


Header photo: Hong Kong sunrise by Daxis at Flickr