Podcast: We're building a social enterprise legacy – but we need to build a brand

Social entrepreneurs and support organisations are working hard to build an important legacy in Ethiopia, across Africa and all around the world. But many people still don't understand or connect with social enterprise as "a brand" – and a bunch of politicians "think we're tree huggers". Pioneers Post's Tim West chats to attendees at this week's Social Enterprise World Forum. 

As Ethiopia continues on an exciting but challenging path of reform, could the focus on inclusion and social impact offered by the social enterprise movement offer a significant boost to the economy and society in the country – and indeed across the whole continent?

This was a key opportunity identified by Dr Alastair McPhail, the UK's Ambassador to Ethiopia, as he hosted a welcome reception for the launch of the 2019 Social Enteprise World Forum in Addis Ababa.

As delegates from 70 countries gathered in one of the world's highest capital cities, Pioneers Post's Tim West spoke to several key figures and some up-and-coming social entrepreneurs about their aims for the week and where they thought the social enterprise movement was heading.

Peter Brown, country director of the British Council – whose team was organising the 1,200-strong event – said the conference offered huge opportunities for social enterprises to build momentum and build a legacy.

Baroness Glenys Thornton, founding chair of Social Enterprise UK, said the experience offered the chance for new learning and new relationships.

But there was also a reality check from Lord Victor Adebowale. Speaking to Pioneers Post after the opening session, Adebowale, who is chair of Social Enterprise UK, warned that the social enterprise movement should take "a critical look at our brand – who are we, what do people understand of us" – the implication being that social enterprise has got a big job to do to tell its story effectively and demonstrate its value.

Secondly, he said, we "need to take a cold, hard look at our economic philosophy – do we have one and what is it?" Just coming out with statements like "doing good is good for business" was not working.

Third, we need to work more effectively to bring politicians onside, especially the politicians who "think we're a bunch of tree huggers".

Listen above to hear more of the buzz at SEWF2019.