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CEO, Claire Pattullo represents members at SEWF Down Under!

Mantua Sewing Studio, Brisbane

October 2022

CEO, Claire Pattullo represents members at SEWF Down Under!

Edinburgh Social Enterprise is delighted that I was able to represent members at the Social Enterprise World Forum in Brisbane last month, having received funding from the Scottish Government, via a SEWF bursary, and a contribution from SES to be able to attend. The ESE board is very grateful for this support.

The conference was a fantastic opportunity to learn new ideas, connect with people and organisations from across the world and gain an insight into how social enterprise is developing globally!

Of particular interest was the dialogue regarding tighter definitions of social enterprise. Whilst there was agreement that impact and (social) primacy of purpose were high priorities it was felt that it was important to be able to clearly define social enterprise “…as corporates don’t have time to work out who is or isn’t and navigate this…need to make it easy for buyers” (Joanne Kennet, Transport for NSW), but it was strongly argued that these definitions should come from the grassroots up “Nobody should define Social Enterprises other than Social Enterprises”. (Alfie Othman, raiSE, Singapore).
There was debate around whether or not legal structure matters, as long as you are creating social impact. As a SEN, ESE upholds the values and principles of the grassroots social enterprise movement in Scotland which is clear that there needs to be an asset lock and distribution clause that ensures no private profit for individuals. Debate with Scottish and international colleagues on this matter helped hone my thinking which I have applied to my work here in Scotland.

Another theme that was prevalent throughout the conference was the emergence of new networks and intermediary support bodies around the globe. I spent some time, along with GSEN Director Jennifer Robertson and SES Membership Director Kim Wallace, talking to Social Enterprise Network Victoria, Social Traders, Social Enterprise Australia, Social Enterprise NL and others, building connections for Scottish SENs. I am particularly excited about a prospective collaboration with Start Some Good to create further opportunities for ESE’s imminent Good Stuff Network membership. Many countries are only now thinking about developing strategic plans and I had some interesting conversations and participated in excellent workshops on this subject. In much of the work I have outlined, it was reassuring to see that Scotland is still regarded as leading the way, but we must ensure that we do not become complacent.

As well as time spent in the conference centre, it was great to get out and about around Brisbane and the Sunshine Coast to visit a number of Social Enterprises and hear about their amazing work. I was particularly inspired by the work of the Lovewell Foundation who work with women who have experienced domestic abuse and violence to rebuild their lives by offering opportunities train and reskill at the Lovewell café. I was also fortunate enough to see a koala whilst visiting Lovewell as rescued orphans are released in the woodland near the café.
It was great to learn about Mantua Sewing Studio which provides people with refugee and migrant backgrounds, Jigsaw which has revolutionised the way people with disability prepare for the workforce, Food Connect Shed where over 20 good food organisations and businesses are co-located, Bee One Third who work with local beekeepers and the surrounding community to increase the local bee population, Worlds Biggest Garage Sale a recycling initiative and EATS restaurant, a social enterprise restaurant focused on empowering youth out of generational poverty through education, microfinancing opportunities and mentorship. There were many similarities with ESE members, and it was reassuring to see that the types of issues Social Enterprises are addressing in Edinburgh are also being supported by similar approaches in Australia and I’d love to help build peer connections across the two communities to explore the successes and challenges more deeply.
The visit to Galeru Forever Fruits powered by SevGen was highlight where we all enjoyed a traditional welcome, followed by amazing high tea in the woods, made with native produce grown in the bushtucker orchard.

The SEWF was a fantastic opportunity to make connections with like-minded, passionate Social Enterprises and support bodies from all over the world and learn and develop new approaches and practices that will benefit members and the network moving forward.

The optimism of the World Forum has come at a great time with the launch of The Good Stuff Network Edinburgh in November!

ESE is ensuring that the organisation continues to be the best it can be for the sector with SEs core values and principles at the heart of what we do. The SEWF definitely emphasised that we are moving in the right direction!