SEWF 2019: Explore the past - and the future - in dynamic Ethiopia this October

On cross-continental Skype calls, via emails pinging into inboxes and 24/7 WhatsApp messages, the people running this year’s Social Enterprise World Forum are very busy right now.

As a media partner to the event, Pioneers Post has an insight into the behind-the-scenes activity and we can tell you that excitement is really building about the first ever Social Enterprise World Forum (SEWF) to be held in a developing country.


UPDATE: SEWF travel bursaries available now! Apply by 7 July.


SEWF 2019 will take place from 23 to 25 October in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Ethiopia’s position as one of the fastest growing economies in the world, as the ‘cradle of civilisation’ and with an estimated 55,000 young, enthusiastic social entrepreneurs ready to celebrate what they are doing with their global counterparts, makes it a fascinating SEWF host country.

The first list of speakers will shortly be officially announced, and right now the finer details of dozens of sessions are being worked out.

We will offer delegates a rich, authentic Ethiopian cultural experience

Pioneers Post can already reveal that speakers will be travelling from at least 35 countries, including the UK, India, Argentina and New Zealand. They encompass Mike Curtin, the charismatic founder of DC Central Kitchen in the US, Ghanaian tech social entrepreneur Regina Honu, and Ayatam Simeneh of Ethiopia’s Beautiful Minds

Wubet Girma, deputy director of the British Council Ethiopia which is hosting the event, said: “Delegates at the SEWF in Addis in 2019 will, for the first time, be able to engage with the unique and vibrant Ethiopian social enterprise ecosystem.”

She added: “The SEWF offers a great opportunity to establish new relationships and create a platform for ongoing collaboration and sharing. We will offer delegates a rich, authentic Ethiopian cultural experience throughout the forum, at side events and study tours, including to world-renowned cultural heritage sites.”

A series of study tours before and after the main event will be available to delegates to experience first-hand the social enterprises that are making a difference in today’s Ethiopia. For example, a trip to the north of the country is planned, where the Ben Abeba restaurant in mountainous Lalibela brings together Ethiopian and Scottish culinary traditions. From here, travellers can explore the 13thcentury medieval cave churches are a UNESCO World Heritage Site

Themes to be examined during the week include social enterprise solutions to the world’s refugee crisis, the youth agenda from an African perspective, utilising indigenous knowledge, and agri-business.

The SEWF began in Edinburgh in 2008 and has since been hosted by cities on six continents including San Francisco, Calgary, Hong Kong and Christchurch. It aims to be the leading forum for international exchange and collaboration in social entrepreneurship and social investment. This year’s event in Ethiopia is expected to attract around 1,200 social entrepreneurs, policy makers, academics and supporters from around the world.


Find out more and book your place on the SEWF 2019 website.

Header photo: A young child in Sire District, Ethiopia. Natalia Cieslik / World Bank reproduced under a Creative Commons licence

SEWF 2019 Ethiopia