Now that the dust has finally settled on this year’s Social Enterprise World Forum (SEWF), we decided to check in with three bursary recipients supported by SEWF and the International Social Enterprise Observatory (ISEO) Aimee, Cameron and Finlay to see if they achieved their objectives for attending this year’s event.
The bursary was awarded to these young social entrepreneurs as representatives from rural and start-up social enterprises who could also contribute meaningfully to some of the topics being discussed at SEWF 22, namely health and social care, rural networks, communities and land. Without the bursary they would otherwise not be able to make it to the conference in Australia. While there, all three used their time in Brisbane wisely, not only taking part in SEWF sessions, but also arranging a number of other activities to help develop their social enterprise knowledge and networks.
A Truly International Event
Before we hear from our bursary recipients, let’s take a moment to reflect on the event itself.
Taking place over the course of two days on the 28th and 29th of September 2022, it also ran alongside a number of other events and study tours that happened before and after the main event itself.
This year’s World Forum took in 2,770 participants, from 93 different countries, 926 of which were attending on bursaries just like Aimee, Cameron and Finlay. Over 70% those speaking at the event were doing it for the first time, with 20% of them being under 30, and over 60% of them identifying as women or girls. View the SEWF 22 Event Report for further info.
The social enterprise sector is often lauded for its diversity, and it’s great to learn that this was on full display at the event.
For more on the CEIS perspective from this SEWF, read our blog by our Events and Marketing Manager Jo Seagrave, who was also in Brisbane for the event this year.
Reflections From Our Bursary Recipients
After our bursary recipients returned home, we asked them to reflect on the outcomes and objectives that they were hoping to achieve from SEWF 22, and if they had achieved them.
Aimee Spence from Inspiralba said:
“I was hoping to gain a wider understanding of social enterprise from an international context. I was also looking to form connections with other social enterprise networks and learn about how my own network can be maintained and improved.
“I have achieved every one of these objectives. It has been an extremely valuable experience for me, and I feel that I am both more confident & competent in terms of my role within InspirAlba and as a professional working in the Third Sector. I made several connections with other social enterprise networks including SENVIC [Social Enterprise Network Victoria] and built on pre-existing relationships with the some of the Scottish networks who attended the Forum. I have formulated some future plans for the Rural Social Enterprise Hub based on learning from some of the SEWF sessions.”
Alongside achieving specific objectives from the event, Aimee also gained valuable professional experience too:
“On a professional level, participating in SEWF 22 has really helped me to understand social enterprise in more depth and think about where I would like to progress to in my own career. I feel more confident speaking to people about my role and InspirAlba’s activities. Being given the opportunity to speak in front of a room of people has also been massively beneficial for me in terms of getting over anxiety around public speaking which I am so grateful for as it will help me beyond measure going forward with my work.”
Over on the Rural Social Enterprise Hub website, Aimee offered some more reflection on her time in Brisbane. In a series of blogs, Aimee has spoken at great length about her time at the event, covering the study tours, the SEWF Youth Forum, the two days that made up the main event, and the Rural Gathering that took place afterwards from the 2nd to the 4th of October. I think it’s fair to say that Aimee achieved everything and more she wanted to at SEWF22 this year.
Cameron Campbell from STAT SALUS had a different agenda from Aimee for attending this year’s event. When asked what he was hoping to achieve he stated that:
“As a relatively new, yet fully committed newcomer to the Social Enterprise scene I was keen to achieve the following objectives:
1) Strategies on how to win contracts that are normally won by for-profit businesses
2) Knowledge on Social Procurement
3) Get our brand, story, business & impact known internationally
4) Learn how to develop a relationship with drug companies in a semi-private healthcare market in order to make B2B sales or develop a partnership to boost both Expansion & Social Impact.
5) Make contacts within the Global SE Ecosystem to develop new market entry abroad.”
He later expanded on his time at SEWF in an interview with Scottish Business News, discussing how he found the experience enlightening. He was a Moderator in a session about the Health Sector, and “In addition to lectures, discussions, tours of social enterprises in the Brisbane area, and participating in gatherings of likeminded entrepreneurs from across the globe, there were opportunities for him to attend the Youth Forum. Cameron’s opinion is that it is from this Forum where ideas presented and debated will be rolled out across the globe. This group represents the world’s entrepreneurial leaders of the future and will go on to disrupt traditional for-profit business models through their challenging minds and new business concepts.”
Like Aimee, Campbell felt that he achieved the objectives he set out before attending the event:
“1) Learning strategies on how to win contracts was partially achieved but will be achieved as time goes on. Many of the contacts I made at the conference are consistently achieving this well and we will be following up to share learning with one another.
2) I would say I have definitely been educated on social procurement, and it has given me a good starting ground and contacts.
3) I definitely got our brand known more internationally – lots of interest in our Social Enterprise from delegates of many countries.
4) When it comes to learning how to develop a relationship with drug companies in the semi-private healthcare market, I learned a little through practice. While I met drug companies and developed a relationship with some, I feel training on the B2B aspect of sales would be beneficial so that we can learn what their business will be seeking from a ‘partnership’ and what evaluation criteria they will likely apply when assessing the [our] Social Enterprise.
5) Making more contacts in the Global Social Enterprise ecosystem was far more easily achieved than I anticipated. I couldn’t have asked for a larger or more supportive network internationally of social entrepreneurs who are experiencing similar challenges. Many of whom I’ve already been in touch with post conference. Additionally, the Scottish delegation warmly embraced me as one of their own and so connections and friendships easily developed with likeminded players involved in SEs.”
Overall, it was a positive personal and professional experience for Campbell:
“I developed networking skills – As a result of COVID precautions limiting ‘in-person’ events for over two years, networking opportunities for professional development have been extremely limited. Attending SEWF really allowed me to develop these skills that have been underdeveloped and dormant during COVID.
Moderating a session on healthcare allowed me to develop my IN PERSON on stage presentation skills in front of an international audience, something which I haven’t been able to do since pre-COVID. This has given me more confidence and further development whilst recognising that more of this is not just within my ability but something I like and actively seek for the future: whether as a moderator or as a speaker.
I developed a network Globally”
Read more about his experience in the article here.
Much like Aimee, the rural aspects of this year’s conference were also of great interest to Finlay MacLennan from Community Land Outer Hebrides. When asked about what he was looking to achieve from the event he said:
“As a relatively new organisation we hoped to gain exposure locally, nationally and internationally by attending and participating in SEWF as well as making contacts with others working in the third sector across Scotland and in similar community ownership and land spheres globally.”
In an interview with We Love Stornoway Finlay spoke at length about his experience in Brisbane. In particular, he highlighted that many of the issues rural communities face in Australia are the same as those in the Outer Hebrides:
“They are worried about population retention, about demographic imbalance and about second homeowners – all the same issues which concern us.”
Finlay certainly felt that the objectives he outlined were achieved:
“Our participation in SEWF led to local media coverage, raising our profile locally, and the contacts we made with national and international delegates also increased our brand awareness. Being involved as panel speaker provided a platform to share the experiences of communities in the Outer Hebrides of land ownership and its benefits and led to interesting conversations with a number of delegates, in particular a connection with the Indigenous Land and Sea Corporation of the Australian Government which operates in a similar sphere of community ownership.”
He too found the experience helped his professional growth:
“The connections with a network of organisations and individuals who would be easily approachable in the future will be of great value, without participating in the SEWF these national connections would be more difficult to build and the international ones far less likely to occur.”
Learn more about Finlay’s time at SEWF in a full news article published on his return here.
Onwards to Amsterdam
From our perspective it appears as though this year’s ISEO bursary recipients gained a lot personally and professionally from the event. SEWF 23 will be taking place in Amsterdam from 11-12th October with fringe events on 9th, 10th and 13th October and we can’t wait to see who we will be bringing along with us this time.
To learn more about ISEO and how they are helping Scottish social enterprises internationalise, whilst helping international businesses break into Scotland, please check out their new website.