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Ethiopia Gets Ready to Host First Social Enterprise World Forum 2019

Ethiopia Gets Ready to Host Social Enterprise World Forum 2019


Ethiopia is getting ready to host a week-long Social Enterprise World Forum in the capital city, Addis Ababa. The first Social Enterprise World Forum being held in a developing economy, this event will be attended by 1200 social enterprise leaders, policymakers, development partners, and private-sector representation from more than 55 countries in the world.

The main forum and Exhibition will run from 23 -25 October. The event will conclude with the Rural Study tour that will see participants travel to Lalibela and Arba Minch to see how local Social Enterprises (SEs) are thriving.

Amongst the highlights of the SEWF 2019 is the fact that, for the first time, more than 50% of the speakers are women and that African speakers account for 47% of the total number.

The announcement that Ethiopia will be hosting this event was made a year ago during the handover ceremony in Edinburgh (SEWF 2018) which was attended by a 20-strong Ethiopian delegation including the Minister of Urban Development and Housing, State Minister of Industry, co-founders of the umbrella association Social Enterprise Ethiopia and social enterprise programme members of the British Council in Ethiopia.

In the past twelve months, SEWF/CEIS and the British Council along with Social Enterprise Ethiopia and the Ethiopian Government worked tirelessly in designing an event that will act as a platform to showcase and celebrate successful social enterprises in the world by connecting people across Africa and the world.

It should be mentioned here that Social Enterprise, Government and Corporate partners including Platinum (Johnson & Johnson, Reach for Change and SAP), Gold (Vodacom), Bronze (Diageo, ESELA, European Union, The Scottish Government, and Turkish Airlines), and Media (Pioneers Post, Impact Boom and The Rooftop) joined hands in this process.

According to Mr Wubet Girma, the Deputy Director of the British Council in Ethiopia: “We have worked with our partners in ensuring that the full week experience is as comprehensive as anticipated. We trust every participant would find value in the experience and learning shared at an individual, institutional and system level.”

Barakel Beyene is Chief Operations Officer for Social Enterprise Ethiopia (SEE), AKA the Legacy partner of SEWF as it shoulders the burden to continue the impetus generated by the forum.

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“ As the national body for social enterprise in Ethiopia, we are excited that the Forum is coming to our country in this vital time. We hope it will enable us to showcase our dynamic social enterprises to the global community and acquire a lot from international experiences on how we can build a strong social enterprise ecosystem to achieve a sustainable and inclusive economy in Ethiopia,” he says.

This is not the first time that Johnson & Johnson, one of the platinum partners, opted to host SEWF. Ian Walker, Senior Director of Johnson & Johnson Community Impact Team.

“Johnson & Johnson is proud to once again sponsor SEWF – this event does so much to recognise the role which social enterprises play in business supply chains and communities across the world. We are all looking forward to a fascinating week of debate and recognition has a strong commitment to Africa – we’ve been working across the continent for over 80 years, and have constantly been seeking new ways to support those communities. We are proud to be able to show off some of those partnerships – Unjani Clinics and Project Mercy at SEWF this year,” Walker says.

Another platinum partner, Reach for Change, has been active in the social enterprise sector for several years in Ethiopia.

“When we launched in Ethiopia in 2015, social entrepreneurship was a very new concept,” said Sofia Breitholtz, CEO of Reach for Change. “Today, it is a top priority for Reach for Change and our partner, the IKEA Foundation, to support the growth of the social enterprise ecosystem by raising awareness, providing grant funding and capacity-building support to the country’s top social entrepreneurs and working closely with stakeholders to promote policies that will help the sector thrive. Having the Social Enterprise World Forum in Addis Ababa this year is very special because it provides opportunities to showcase the innovative solutions Ethiopian social entrepreneurship has for some of the greatest challenges we face as societies today; things like malnutrition, access to quality education, gender equality, and so much more.”

Alexandra van der Ploeg, Global Head of Corporate Social Responsibility of the technology giant SAP noted that”:

“SAP has spent the past decade working diligently to add value to the social enterprise sector. Our efforts in this field range from partnerships and programs that focus on early-stage innovation and new ventures, to accelerating and scaling mature social enterprises through access to talent, technology and markets. As the first global technology partner for SEWF, SAP is excited to support SEWF 2019 in Addis Ababa. It was of particular importance to us to enrich the event by mobilizing SAP’s social enterprise ecosystem from across the globe – and in particular from Africa – and we are delighted that over 40 of our social enterprise partners – including 10 Global Teen Leaders from the continent – are joining us in Addis Ababa to jointly drive forward the acceleration of the social enterprise movement.”

On the other hand, Vivek Badrinath, CEO, Africa, Middle East and Asia Pacific, Vodafone Group, who are the Gold partners noted that “Vodafone and Vodacom are proud to partner with the Social Enterprise World Forum to help drive social progress in Africa. We remain optimistic about how transformational technologies can enhance lives, promote sustainability and drive greater digital and financial inclusion on the continent.’ he says.

The Forum kicked off last Sunday, 20 October, evening with a reception ceremony at the British Council for the Youth Week programme.

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