For almost three decades, the social economy has been growing in size and popularity. Every day, there is a new charity, association, or cooperative claiming to do good for the world. With the addition of modern technology, the sector only continues to grow, creating a number of different offshoots such as social enterprises.
What is a social enterprise you may ask?
According to New Zealand Story, a “social enterprise is a commercial operation with a social purpose, formulating strategies and applying tactics with the underlying intention of making improvements to human and environmental well being.”
The term itself is quite new, but the idea has existed in Māori culture for centuries. Kaitiakitanga, the Māori phrase, describes a sense of protection the people feel for their environment, the land and sea. Even in modern times, kaitiakitanga lives on in Māori businesses and Iwi incorporations. These business then have quite stark differences in relation to other commercial business, driven solely by social agendas.
New Zealand is trying to change that. The government has created a working group to increase knowledge and awareness of social enterprises. The New Zealand government hopes that through the working group, they can encourage growth of the financial aspect of these businesses.
Since the country has been taking such large steps towards the recognition of social enterprises and supports many of its own such as The Mispring Co. or Medicine Mondiale, Christchurch will be hosting the world’s largest social enterprise conference.
The Social Enterprise World Forum (SEWF), hosted by social enterprise intermediary The Ākina Foundation, will be taking place this September 27-29 over 4 centrally located Christchurch venues. The SEWF has been taking place annually since 2008. This year’s edition is to be hosted in Christchurch not only because of New Zealand’s strong support of social enterprises but also because of the events after the Canterbury earthquake that occured in 2011. After witnessing the devastating aftermath, locals helped develop the city into a hub for social enterprises in New Zealand.
The international forum is a place for the enterprises themselves, policy makers, investors, academics, entrepreneurs and more to have a meeting place in order to discuss ideas of how to make the world a better place. Over the 3 days, more than 80 speakers will share their thoughts and you can take part in over 40 different sessions!
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