Our vision for a youth positive SEWF

Our ideas for how we can make the Social Enterprise World Forum more youth positive. 

We have just landed back after a fantastic week at the Social Enterprise World Forum! It was an awesome opportunity for us to reconnect and deepen our connections with some of the DfC community, build our networks with other young people and be further inspired and engaged by social entrepreneurs and sector influencers from all around the world! We were especially delighted that three of our international DfCers were able to join us, coming in from as far as Egypt and South Africa for the occasion – shout outs to Wael, KG and Aseel!

The week started with a Young Talent fringe, where just under 100 young aspiring social entrepreneurs gathered for 2.5 days of educational and inspirational workshops. These sessions and the speakers really resonated with many of our group. Adele Peek from FYA was particularly memorable. Her unfiltered talk, packed full of sage advice and genuine belief in the ability of everyone in the room, left the group lifted, focused and ready to hustle. Ali from School for Social Entrepreneurs also contributed some priceless advice about gathering feedback and bringing people on-board with new ideas. His years of exposure to new ideas made his words all the more poignant and really got us thinking about how we could maximise the networking opportunities in the coming days.

DfC at Social Enterprise World Forum 2018
DfC at the Social Enterprise World Forum 2018

As Wednesday lunchtime arrived we merged with the main event and our small and tightly-knit group was engulfed by the 1,500 other delegates from all over the world! This was very exciting. It presented some amazing chances to hear from people at the top of their game and to network in a truly global space. As a result, we’ve come away with loads of great connections and new ideas and are more ready than ever to put our ideas into action.

As great as everything was, we also noticed that the main conference lacked young delegates and we also felt that much of the content was not pitched in a way that made it as inclusive or interactive as it could be for a young audience. If the social enterprise movement is to achieve its potential impact, we think it’s important that we get better at engaging young people at events like SEWF. So, we decided to have a brainstorm with our DfCers and come up with some ideas for how to make it more engaging in future years!  Here’s our starter for 10… 

Better utilise the app

  • The app was a great addition to the conference, however, it sometimes cut out opportunities for people to interact rather than add them.  It could be used to engage the audience more through ongoing polls. Additionally, speakers could also include the name of the person who suggested the question itself. It would also be useful if the audience had the chance to up-vote the questions they want to have answered, as this would keep the audience more engaged throughout the presentations. We also felt that questions from the floor should always be welcomed alongside the app, as this allows the audience to hear other people’s voices and makes the conversation more dynamic!

More facilitated conversations

  • It would be great to see more open discussions on topics, rather than just people talking to an audience. This could be through structured networking events or additional fringe events alongside the main sessions. Or perhaps the main sessions themselves should all have an interactive element, even if it was just to talk to the person sat next to you for a couple of minutes. It would be great to see more young people take to the stage too, perhaps a way of doing this is to keep a seat free in some of the panel sessions for a young person to join the stage or even have a young person host some Q&As and debates? 
The dream DfC panel - young, diverse and female
The dream DfC panel – young, diverse, female – we saw an empty stage and had to create what we hope to see next year!

Networking effectively 

  • It would be great to find a way of supporting people to build specific partnerships and to network more effectively. Perhaps a match-making feature on the app, themed networking events e.g. ‘social enterprise and food’ or ‘social enterprise and tech’ or ‘zero waste’ speed networking events, or perhaps you could categorise attendees into themes such as tech/ food/ wellbeing/ design/ education/ youth/ environment/ policy/ arts/ investment via colour coded badges or lanyards to help people maximise the available networking opportunities.

Group the talks 

  • It would be good to see the events that follow on from each other in the schedule begin to build a conversation. This would avoid people hearing the same info each time and build the conversation. It could be aided by talks being themed, so people can easily identify where they’d be a cross over of content and a chance to further develop knowledge on a particular subject.

Make it more educational

  • We found that some people weren’t open to talking to the Young Talent group. One of our entrepreneurs asked a woman a question to which she replied: “I’m not here to educate you”. That attitude stinks. It doesn’t help anyone. We’d love to see more activities where those from the main forum are encouraged to talk to the younger delegates. Perhaps something like the photo challenge, but where the wider conference attendees have a challenge to maybe network with a certain amount of young people or to buddy with a young person for an afternoon could help to make the young and aspiring entrepreneurs more included?

Make better use of the hive mind

  • We had the greatest social entrepreneurs and thinkers of the global social enterprise movement in one place, it would be awesome to use that collective knowledge to help aspiring social entrepreneurs with their ideas. Perhaps some optional focus groups and feedback sessions could be included in future years? Something that will help to curate the future speakers for SEWF and build the movement. 

We hope these ideas are read by some of the organisers of SEWF and if anyone from SEWF is reading, we’re available for consultancy and can recommend some really kick-ass young social entrepreneur speakers!