london, uk: social enterprise festival

There are a variety of ways I have been finding social impact opportunities while I travel: stumble upon them, via friends, instagram, cold emailing, google, linkedin, eventbrite. Thanks to eventbrite, I found City, University of London's first Social Entrepreneurship Festival!!

Since it was the last event of the festival, the organizing team recapped their goal for the week. It just so happens to coincide very well with what my goal has been for traveling!! My personal compass when deciding to travel was "I want to meet the world and I want to change the world." Quite close to the festival's mission below!

Festival goal w/ some of the panelists below.

Festival goal w/ some of the panelists below.

The event I attended was titled "Big Social Debate: Can social enterprise truly create social impact and deliver financial return?" I was intrigued as I believe it absolutely can, plus, there is evidence out there and case studies that it does, but was nonetheless, I was very excited to hear different POVs. The panel consisted of a variety of different industries (construction, childcare, consulting, women's empowerment) and the panelists were very open, vulnerable and authentic with their experiences.

A few notes, questions, etc. that I jotted down: 

When starting your own social enterprise:

1. Measuring impact and producing an impact report is of the utmost importance

2. Securing investors and a strong, diverse, purpose-driven Board of Directors is key

3. Tailor to your audience the language of your pitch depending on their understanding of social enterprise

4. The most important thing is the value/quality of your product/service and that you are best-in-class. This is an absolute must and then having a social purpose is an added-value and will differentiate you even more.

5. Exude transparency + trust

6. Support problems with solutions founded in data 

Cool, colorful, positive street art that reminded me of the power of social enterprise!

Cool, colorful, positive street art that reminded me of the power of social enterprise!

Thought Starters:

- Social enterprises only account for 1% of business in the UK 

- How is the media covering social enterprises? How are they not?

- Why are "social impact businesses" often separated from "businesses?" Aren't they all just businesses, however, with the added benefit of doing good?

- There is a need for a systems change. For more companies to commit to purpose. For more consumers to demand purpose with their wallet. For government to support more purpose policies. One speaker noted Unilever (yay!!) and Paul Polman as a prime example of a mass corporation delivering profit while making an impact. I am so proud every day to have worked for a company with such a mission. 

- United Nations Sustainable Development Goals: incredibly important and if achieved, could solve magnitudes of societal problems, however, is there enough awareness? Do people know what they are and what they can do to achieve them?

- Importance of the growth of social impact investing 

The session made me think so much about what I want to do and how much more I want to learn! I think one of the most immediate areas of opportunity is awareness. What if more people knew what the global goals were and what they will accomplish? What if more businesses put purpose first? If those businesses knew it would help their bottom line? What if consumers knew what businesses were out there that contribute to social good? What if the media told more social impact stories?

Of course, there is always room to do more, however, we (as a world!) are absolutely getting there. So many beautiful and wonderful people and organizations are contributing to answering these questions. Spark News, for instance, shares social impact and innovation stories and solutions! 

Just some food for thought about getting the word out and more people involved. I'm hoping to help contribute to even greater awareness via Thank you for reading!!!


Lauren WittigComment