The Social Enterprise World Forum (SEWF) 2013 is coming to Calgary, October 2 to 4. It’s the sixth year for this global event and the first time Canada is hosting. If you’re thinking about attending, here are three reasons you should make your plans right now. Least of which is the varied and invaluable opportunities for you to engage in the important information sharing and learning this event will provide for social entrepreneurs.
1. Go for the sheer volume of great content.
SEWF 2013 will feature 130 speakers from more than 20 countries around the world, with six content tracks to choose from, more than 30 breakout sessions and a choice of 15 tours of social enterprises around the Calgary area. Whatever you want to learn more about, you’ll have an opportunity to do so, either on the main stage, or in a breakout session. You can check out the full roster of speakers and tours here. With all that’s packed into 2.5 days, your biggest challenge will be finding time to sleep.
Effectively, SEWF 2013 has three key levels of appeal, explains executive director, Dan Overall. “It’s for those who want to be part of and help advance this powerful movement known as social enterprise, as well as anyone who wants to get better at grappling with issues like effective collaboration, social impact measurement, empathy, using failure, and social innovation.”
And if you believe in building bridges across all those dedicated to social impact – social enterprise, traditional not-for-profit, traditional for profit, philanthropy and government – this is the place for you too. “Because you know the holy grail of solving our big, sticky systemic problems is cross-sectoral collaboration.”
2. Unprecedented opportunities for connection and collaboration.
Along with as much content as any conference goer can possibly handle, the event organizing committee for 2013 has also packed the 2.5 days with unprecedented opportunities for connection and collaboration. This starts with the registration process, where you can actually get a snapshot of who is coming.
If they’re a speaker, it’s very easy to see when and where their session is in the lineup. SEWF is also all about keeping conversations going. To support this, there will also be a number of un-conference opportunities (impromptu breakouts) sprinkled across the 2.5 days.
Organizers will provide times and spaces as discussions bubble up. Even if you haven’t registered yet, you can get the connection process started now (and maybe help strengthen your case for going with the boss) by engaging with the event’s very active Twitter feed or Facebook page. And if you have a social enterprise story you want to share, there is also an opportunity for you to submit one for the site. To see what’s been shared so far, check out the Articles page.
3. Ramp up your personal development.
Start with the fantastic lineup of main stage speakers. The opening keynote features the CEO of Community Enterprise in Scotland (CEIS), and looks at the topic of impact, specifically creating it, measuring it, and collaborating to raise the impact bar. On Thursday and Friday, the focus zooms in on SE traits, skills and competencies.
Speakers include, Mary Gordon, founder of the award-winning Roots of Empathy program. There’s also a look at what’s happening in and what we can learn about social enterprise from aboriginal communities in Canada (which is a lot). Later Friday, there will be some crystal ball gazing as authors Georgia Levenson Keohane and Ron Schultz make some predictions about the future of SE.
The main stage closes with a presentation from Pamela Hartigan, Oxford University professor and former Managing Director of the Schwab Foundation for Social Enterprise. Hartigan’s topic is “The Power of Unreasonable People” (the title of her 2008 book, co-authored with John Elkington), and she’ll draw on the book’s research to provide insights into common traits that make social entrepreneurs successful. She’ll also tackle the topic of scaling, in particular how we social entrepreneurs can do a better job at it.
“Arguably, we have the greatest gathering of international leaders dedicated to social impact ever assembled on Canadian soil,” offers Overall. Fom Hartigan to Craig Kielburger, Paul Martin and Gordon to change-making organizations like Acumen, Ashoka, MaRS, SiG and enp Canada, the list is unprecedented. Organizers have also gone above and beyond any other event to hear and celebrate the voices of the upcoming attendees. “If you care about solving our world’s social challenges and are eager to learn or have something to say, or both, this is the event for you.”
With so much to hear, experience and learn, nobody is going to want it to end. You can check out the full roster of speakers and tours here
Verity Dimock is currently working with Robert Patterson (www.earthbox.mx) on the launch of a Canadian social enterprise focused on local, sustainable food. Before shifting her career focus to social enterprise, Verity was the executive director of Smart Serve Ontario. She holds a Master’s degree from Boise State University (Instructional and Performance Technology) and a Bachelor’s degree from Trent University (Politics and Economics).
In addition to her social enterprise work, Verity teaches career development workshops and is an employment coach for students in the HVAC and Sustainable Energy Programs at Humber College. She tweets about her experience as a new social entrepreneur @SocentGirl.