Welcome to SEWF 2017 Christchurch

Welcome to SEWF 2017 Christchurch

By David LePage, Chairman SEWF C.I.C Board

The Social Enterprise World Forum is an international event for social enterprises from all over the world to come together, share wisdom, build networks and discuss how to create a more sustainable future. The event attracts social enterprise practitioners, social entrepreneurs, policy makers, community leaders, investors, activists, academics and more from all across the globe.

Social enterprise plays an important role in building healthy communities - they reduce poverty, build food systems, celebrate diversity, promote Indigenous culture, meet health needs, create employment opportunities for those with barriers, deliver community owned energy and address environmental issues, economic inequality and social exclusion. If you concerned with similar issues, and are using business models to re-build communities, then SEWF is an opportunity to find wisdom, inspiration and support in your endeavours.

We use our worldwide forum to provide the tools to enhance your knowledge and skills, build a supportive public policy environment, and create a generous network of collaboration and sharing. We examine transferrable strategies, systems and models that have worked in the past, while also turning toward the future to explore emerging market opportunities in the long-term.

Social enterprise is our tool to build healthy communities and vibrant local economies – and SEWF is the global platform to share your story, learn from others and celebrate progress together.

David LePage
Chairman, SEWF C.I.C Board.

SEWF 2017

SEWF 2017

Since its 2008 debut in Scotland, The Social Enterprise World Forum has been a mainstay for the global sector. A three-day festival accommodating delegates from all over the world, SEWF is an essential event for anyone passionate about addressing the challenges and inequality of our complex and interconnected world. Housing a diverse mix of people and organizations, the forum is an opportunity to share insights, debate policy and practices, and inspire one another towards positive change.

In 2017, the host community was the idyllic city of Christchurch, New Zealand. After being crippled by a series of earthquakes in 2011, Christchurch is a city reconstructing itself on every level. Since then, citizens have been actively engaged in conversation on how to rebuild their city in a way that best serves its people - architecturally, environmentally, economically and socially.

What do we want tomorrow to look like? How do we want to operate and organise ourselves? What have we been doing in the past that can be done differently today? As a community forced to tackle serious questions about their future, Christchurch couldn’t have been a better backdrop for the Social Enterprise World Forum, an event founded on the discussion and exploration of these same inquiries.

The theme for SEWF 2017 was “Ka koroki te manu – creating our tomorrow”. The former phrase is derived from a traditional Māori prayer about the bird songs of the morning chorus. As New Zealand is the first in the world to see the sun rise, the dawn birdsong symbolises a wake-up call and welcome to the challenges and glories of a new tomorrow.

We know the dawn of every day is ripe with opportunity – a chance to create, explore, innovate or simply just try again. SEWF 2017 was a gathering to explore the potential of this future and our responsibility to seize it. Backed by Christchurch’s brave spirit of positive disruption, SEWF 2017 was a call-to-action, an invitation to create a global legacy of positive change and to take an active role in prototyping the world’s future. Just as the first birdsong welcomes the potential of tomorrow, SEWF 2017 was an a step in the global movement to bring change for the disadvantaged and design the world we'd like to live in.


Our Values

The approach of the SEWF 2017 team was to "think like a movement and act like an organisation". In order to bring our values to life, we took a wide range of measures through the design and procurement of the Forum to ensure inclusivity and minimise our footprints. To read about how SEWF 2017 has integrated the values of Social Enterprise, see this blog post from the team.

New Zealand Organising Committee

The Ākina Foundation lead the bid to host SEWF 2017 in Christchurch, New Zealand. The Ākina Foundation supports people with ideas to drive positive social and environmental change through social enterprise.

To ensure the success of the forum and to be inclusive of all audiences, all levels of knowledge and a range of interest, the Ākina Foundation decided to take a very participative approach to designing SEWF 2017.

At the end of 2015, after New Zealand was selected to host SEWF 2017, the Ākina Foundation surrounded themselves with partners and supporters from across sectors, to take part in the design and delivery of the event. Design and delivery partners included: Ministry for Youth Development, Department of Internal Affairs, Christchurch City Council, Philanthropy NZ, British Foundation, Tourism NZ, Christchurch & Canterbury Convention Bureau, Canterbury Development Corporation, Ministry of Awesome, Enspiral, Inspiring Stories Trust, University of Canterbury, Conference Innovators, Ngāi Tahu, Te Pūtahitanga, Be. Accessible, Kilmarnock Enterprises, Brown Bread, Darby PR, Ariki Creative, Social Traders Australia, Digital Storytellers, Pioneers Post, Upstream Daily and Twice Podcast.

We believe a high level of engagement across sectors helps create the conditions for collaboration pre, and post event. SEWF 2017 was a catalyst for the development of New Zealand's social enterprise sector and has left a legacy for growth. Those involved in the design and delivery of SEWF 2017 have become the actors of this legacy.

Leading the Organising Committee:

  • Helene Malandain, Social Enterprise World Forum 2017 Project Director, Ākina Foundation
  • Jason Pemberton, Social Enterprise World Forum 2017 Project Manager, Ākina Foundation
  • Terri Lowsley, Project Manager, Conference Innovators

We were committed to making SEWF 2017 as accessible as possible, and are thankful for the support from our Partner Be. Accessible in making this a possibility. This includes improving physical accessibility to all of our venues, considering the design and branding of the event and website, and a wide array of other things to ensure we provided the best possible experience for all attending. Contact us if you have specific questions about accessibility, or for more information on this area of work.

SEWF C.I.C. Board of Directors

SEWF Board of Directors consists of leading representatives from the social enterprise community across the globe including host country representatives.

The main function of the Board of Directors is to support and advise host countries on the format, content and budget management for each forum ensuring delivery of a successful, educational and topical programme with a well balanced programme highlighting the host country’s knowledge and expertise while also showcasing best practice examples internationally.

Member Directors

David LePage

Vancouver, Canada (Chair)

Gerry Higgins

Glasgow, UK

Peter Holbrook

London, UK

Jim Schorr

Tennessee, USA

David Brookes

Melbourne, Australia

Independent Directors

Dr. Jongtae Choi

Seoul, South Korea

Elena Casolari

Milan, Italy

Houghton Wan

Hong Kong SAR, China

Dr Mairi Mackay

British Council

SEWF C.I.C. Advisory Committee

Peter Stadler

Berlin, Germany

Susan Steinman

Johannesburg, South Africa

Alex Oppes


Nicole Etchart

San Francisco, USA