Young people’s experiences of social enterprises were celebrated at the closing ceremony of the Social Enterprise World Forum.
Social enterprises are companies that generate income but use their work and profits to help local communities, such as by supporting those with disabilities, providing health services and employment to marginalised groups.
The Social Enterprise World Forum Youth Week saw young people from around the world come together to share their experiences of young people running social enterprises.
Brian Embeli, who was part of Youth Week and is setting up a social enterprise to drill bore holes in rural Kenya, commented:
The challenges of young people are often overlooked, such as accessing finance and the need for supportive spaces. We have gained insight and inspiration from social enterprises from around the world and will use these to improve our local areas.
The Forum saw more than 70 countries represented and a record number of women took to the podium, with an almost equal gender split among speakers.
Key themes included tackling gender inequality and ensuring the future of business reflects the future of the planet.
Clare Reddington, British Council Trustee, explained the reason for the Forum taking place:
The only way to tackle inequality is to connect with people who are not like you. In the face of inequality and the climate emergency it is never more important for the growth of social enterprises which is driven at events such as Social Enterprise World Forum.
The Forum was the first to take place in a developing market economy and Ethiopia has more than 55,000 social enterprises. Kibret Abebe, President of Social Enterprise Ethiopia, commented:
Social business is the best strategy to achieve our development goals in Ethiopia. Using social procurement in public and private sectors will ensure a fair and inclusive economy for all.
Forum sponsor Johnson & Johnson announced a commitment to ensuring at least 3 per cent of procurement spend worldwide is with social enterprises. Investment was also announced by Scottish Cabinet Secretary, Aileen Campbell. She said:
It’s an honour to be the first Scottish government minister to visit Ethiopia. The hallmark of all these Forums has been the creativity and drive which characterises social enterprises the world over. The Forum represents a determination to create a better, fairer world.
The Social Enterprise World Forum will next take place in Halifax, Canada in September 2020.
The Rooftop is reporting from the Social Enterprise World Forum thanks to support from the British Council.