Solutions for the Planet was shortlisted for a Social Enterprise UK Award in the Education, Training and Jobs category. As a result we received a scholarship from the British Council to attend the #socialenterpriseworldforum 2020 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
So in October I packed my bags and headed to Ethiopia on behalf of Solutions for the Planet (and thanks to the British Council). It was an incredible cultural and collaborative experience with Social enterprises on a global stage. We forged links with organisations in Rwanda, Jamaica, New Zealand, Ethiopia, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Taiwan and many more. Over 1300 delegates from 71 countries and territories. It was incredible with 1,200 delegates from over 70 countries. We talked everything from the definition of social enterprise to procurement from social enterprise, understanding our markets, our unique selling points to working with corporates (one of my personal favourite topics!) We networked with organisations in Uganda, Jamaica, New Zealand, Australia, Italy, India, Scotland the list goes on and made some really exciting connections for the future.
My key take aways:
- Buy Social: Solutions for the Planet has a commitment to buy from other social enterprises where possible and it’s so important to work with integrity. On the back of this, all of my Christmas presents this year were bought from some fantastic Social Enterprises across the UK.
- Connect and Collaborate: how can we connect and collaborate better. The conference felt like a steppingstone for connections internationally. I left the conference with leads in Australia, Uganda, India, Scotland and the US to name just a few!
- Be sustainable: In all honesty it’s been really challenging to turn Solutions for the Planet from a grant funded to trading funded social enterprise but profit is a key pillar of social enterprise: People, Planet and Profit. We can’t expect to continue to have the great impact that we do if we do not secure sustainable income.
In early December Sarah, Tim (Tarmac) and I attended the Social Enterprise Awards at the Guildhall in London. We were in the company of some inspirational social enterprises and although we didn’t win, we came away inspired and motivated to be working in the space. Being shortlisted in the Education, Training and Jobs category was an honour and a solid recognition of the careers, mentoring and educational outcomes for both the young people and the mentors involved in our Big Ideas programme. The night was a celebration for all involved with Solutions.