From SEWF to ASEF: What’s next for social enterprise?

Off the back of a world forum and just before a national one, our director of global relationships Helene Malandain encourages us to think more audaciously in order to create true system change.

One year after hosting The Social Enterprise World Forum (SEWF) in Ōtautahi Christchurch, Aotearoa was strongly represented at this year’s SEWF in Edinburgh, Scotland, last month.

Hon Peeni Henare, Minister for the Community and Voluntary sector, led a delegation of 80 people representing our social enterprise sector: social entrepreneurs, aspiring social entrepreneurs, young leaders, intermediaries, national government representatives and others. New Zealand was the third most represented country at the event, after Taiwan and Canada.

The delegation contributed massively to the conversations, and shared the stories of how far our sector has travelled in the last 12 months. As the event unfolded, it became evident that our nation had a lot to contribute, we have a strong voice and increasing confidence.

The rest of the world is looking at Aotearoa with interest. We are now viewed as a thought-leader and a key player in this global movement. This is not a pat on the back; this is a great testament to the hard work of our social entrepreneurs, relentlessly working to be innovative and grow their impact.

We have a strong story and we need to continue sharing it, building on our blooming reputation. We should also remain true to our culture of openness and transparency, sharing and learning from other countries and intermediaries as we grow our mission and scale our activities. But sharing starts here, within our national sector…

We’re thrilled to be hosting the Aotearoa Social Enterprise Forum in Wellington on Friday 19 October! This is the first gathering of our sector since SEWF 2017, an opportunity to celebrate progress and to look to what the future holds.

The morning plenary is promising to be a very exciting discussion about the opportunities we have to leverage the uniqueness of the Aotearoa social enterprise sector. Our uniqueness can accelerate innovation and build new types of partnerships that will grow our collective impact. MJ Kaplan, an active member of the social enterprise space in Aotearoa for over 5 years, will be launching a paper that she has written on the back of SEWF 2017. Amongst other research finding and reflection, this paper looks at the opportunities to collaborate in fundamentally new ways, both globally and locally, to shift the way we work and the way we create value.

After a good dose of inspiration, the rest of the day will be spent in break-out sessions, focusing on the work itself and practical learning and outcomes for all participants. Some of the speakers who were in Edinburgh last month will be playing back learning and insights from the conversations they had at SEWF 2018.

The time for social enterprise is now. The model is ready to enter the next stage of development. We need to scale up our activities, we need to demonstrate our collective impact and we need to be a key part of the economic debate in Aotearoa, so that social enterprise can become the key driver for systemic change, one of the building blocks for a new economy.

Helene Malandain is Global Relationships Director at the Ākina Foundation.

The Aotearoa Social Enterprise Forum 2018 is on Friday 19 October at Wellington Zoo.
Find out more and secure your place at