Ᾱkina reflects on the Social Enterprise World Forum

18 August 2015

Following last week’s article about the Social Enterprise World Forum, Alex Hannant, CEO of the Ᾱkina Foundation, looks at the social enterprise strategies of foreign governments compared to our own.

My visit to the Social Enterprise World Forum (SEWF) 2015 in Milan, Italy, was an incredible experience.  I was seriously impressed with the scale and sophistication of how social enterprises are working in other countries.  For example, the Scottish Government has social enterprise as a core pillar of its economic development strategy with emphasis on inclusive growth, collaboration with community and new models of public service provision.

Apart from the amazing food and coffee, Italy has a rich tradition of social enterprise and cooperatives, coming in part as a strategic response to cuts in public funding.  In the social housing arena, highly relevant to New Zealand, the Fondazione Housing Sociale (Social Housing Foundation), established as a social enterprise, is leading multiple high-quality social housing developments that include tailored design and social service provision. They have already raised two billion Euros of private capital.

In the international development area, social enterprise is increasingly being built into large development projects. It is looked on favourably by large donor organisations including USAID and recognised as a means to drive innovation, build financial sustainability and leverage private capital.

Being at the SEWF reminded me of the value of being connected with peers and being exposed to best practice and new ideas. It reaffirmed the value of this work and how much room for development and opportunity we have here in New Zealand.  On that note, we presented a bid for New Zealand to host the SEWF in 2017 and it was well received. 

There were an incredible range of experiences shared – you can get a taste through their presentations available on the SEWF 2015 website.

Alex Hannant, CEO, Ᾱkina Foundation

Further reading: Social Enterprise World Forum, by Guy Ryan, CEO, Inspiring Stories.