SEE Change had a chance to chat with Dan Overall, director of collaboration and innovation at Trico Foundation to learn more about this exciting event, its mission, and the important role it plays for Canadians and social entrepreneurs across the globe.
Tell me a bit about SEWF – where it originated, what was its intended goal, who it attracts etc.?
Dan Overall: The inaugural SEWF met in Edinburgh, Scotland in 2008. Since then it has been to Melbourne, Australia; San Francisco, U.S.A; Johannesburg, Africa; and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and now Calgary, Canada. SEWF really has two goals, and it’s a combination that really sets it apart. On the one hand, it’s an international event – a grand, global gathering – for social enterprises to come together, discuss policy and practice, learn from one another, and network. Secondly, and to my knowledge it is the only social enterprise event that does this, each year it moves to a different country for the express purpose of giving that country an incredible opportunity to celebrate and nurture its own social enterprise movement. So it’s the best of both worlds, global meets local.
As first-time hosts in Canada, what unique qualities do you feel Trico and its partners bring to the global table?:
D.O.: The collective Canadian will to make the most of this opportunity has been incredible. The Social Enterprise Council of Canada, MaRS, SiG and the Canadian Community Economic Development Network have joined us as organizing partners, and so many others are rallying around this event, it’s truly something to see. I also think Canada is at a social enterprise tipping point – on almost a daily basis you are hearing advancements in the provinces or federally or from our community leaders on these issues. Imagine momentum meeting will, while the world is watching.
Part of the event’s goal is to elevate the social enterprise sector to the mainstream and increase impact. Can you name a few examples of how you’ll be accomplishing those goals?
D.O.: For one thing, this won’t be a case of attendees sitting on their hands and listening. If everybody is part of the solution – and they are – that means giving them a chance to have a say. A third of every single session is devoted to harnessing the insights, a dialogue with – not at – attendees. As well, at the end of the day this is about impact, solving our most complex and confounding social challenges. That means we need to reach out and work with everyone engaged in social impact, from social enterprises to policy makers, private sector leaders, social good businesses, not-for-profits, philanthropists and intrapreneurs. Our agenda and speakers are specifically designed to do that.
Please describe briefly some unique elements of the agenda and name a few of the exciting speakers who will be taking part.
D.O. I am proud that we have sessions that focus on indigenous social enterprises, and I am particularly proud that the learning will be a two-way street. By that I mean it just isn’t about how social enterprise can help indigenous peoples, it is what social enterprises can learn from indigenous cultures. Many of the program streams are fairly common – you will see titles like social innovation, collaboration, policy, skills, social finance, but we want the discussions to be about the latest insights, the newest challenges within those topics. Our philosophy is, if these conversations could have occurred a year ago we have failed to serve our attendees.
I have to say, I am ecstatic about the breadth and depth of our 120+ speakers. It’s hard to pick standouts because each is incredible in their own way, but some are Nigel Kershaw, Big Issue Invest & The Big Issue Company (U.K.); Yasmina Zaidman, Director of Communications and Strategic Partnerships, Acumen (U.S.); Andrea Coleman, Riders for Health (U.K.); Lucy Bernholz, Stanford University Center on Philanthropy & Civil Society (U.S.); David LePage, Enterprising Non-Profits, enp (Canada); Charmian Love, Chief Executive, Volans (U.K.); Eve Blossom, Founder, Lulan Artisans (U.S.); Charles Tsai, Director of Learning Networks, Ashoka Canada (Canada), and I could go on (see what I mean!).
Who should attend?
D.O.: Attendees will come from diverse backgrounds – social enterprise practitioners from all sectors, traditional nonprofits, for-profit businesses, philanthropists, intrapreneurs, the public sector, support agencies, funders and investors, consultants, indigenous groups, and students – but all share a dedication to resolving the world’s most complex and confounding social challenges. If you are about making the world a better place, this is the event for you. If you believe that markets can be a tool for social good, if you are open to new ideas, if you hear about an event like this and you first reaction is as much about listening as talking, this event is so for you. Finally, if you still believe, as great as you are and as much as you have accomplished, that change is very much a team sport, this event is for you.
When? Oct. 2-4, 2013
Where? Calgary, AB