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Social Enterprise World Forum 2017

Social Enterprise World Forum, September 2017

  • 1600 attendees


SEWF 2017 brought social enterprises from around the world to Christchurch to share their wisdom, build their networks and discuss building a more sustainable future.

The event attracted 1,600 people from over 30 countries - social entrepreneurs, investors, academics and community leaders – generating a real buzz in New Zealand’s most exciting, sustainable new city.

Social enterprises have people and the planet at their heart. They are purpose-driven organisations that trade to deliver social, environmental and economic impact. Their social mission is as core to their success as any potential profit.

In line with that ethos, the Transitional City programme ran alongside the Forum as a participative event. The programme offered free talks, tours of locally operating social enterprises and events to local people and visitors alike.

SEWF 2017 was the largest conference hosted in Christchurch since the 2011 earthquake, embracing a range of stunning venues and opportunities for engagement with local people.


Why Christchurch?

The Forum’s theme ‘Ka koroki te manu – creating our tomorrow’ is very fitting for Christchurch. It comes from a Maori prayer that, in a social enterprise context, refers to a wakeup call and a welcome to the challenges and glories of a new day.

Organisers saw Christchurch as an emblem of what the Forum was about: a learning environment for community resilience and innovation and a place to discuss new solutions to current global problems.

Christchurch’s social enterprise network was boosted by the disruption of the post-quake environment. The city’s connected, collaborative approach helps support a wide range of social enterprises. The culture of ‘thinking outside the box’ that developed out of necessity from 2011 has since thrived and is something that both inspires locals and attracts people from overseas to set up shop here.

Conference Innovators Event Manager Terri Lowsley who worked alongside Ākina Foundation for two years to organise the conference said feedback from delegates was extremely positive.

“Delegates thoroughly enjoyed the forum content, networking opportunities and the Christchurch hospitality,” she said.

Terri also found the collaborative nature of Christchurch venues and suppliers was a real benefit.

The city with a heart is in the heart of New Zealand’s South Island, offering conference delegates the chance to experience the landscape, adventure and stunning scenery of this exciting destination.

The level of collaboration allowed us to do some really innovative things at the forum such as using as many social enterprise suppliers as possible and minimising our carbon footprint through offset, landfill diversion and using recycled or reusable materials.
Terri Lowsley, Event Manager, Conference Innovators

Economic Benefit to the City

With 1,600 attendees from New Zealand, Australia and around the world the economic benefit to Christchurch is conservatively estimated at over $2 million (MBIE Convention Delegate Survey 2017).