An ecosystem-creating conference of disruption: Have I Got Social Enterprise News For You


If you are reading this on Friday, chances are that you are not at Skoll World Forum. That’s alright, I’m not either. I wasn’t invited. But that’s ok, because I’ve decided to start my very own social enterprise conference, and you are invited. It’s going to be big – and I’ll save money by excluding the cheap poster prints the Skoll World Forum loves to blanket its conferences in. You can read a sneak preview below.


We’re going to create an ecosystem.

To be honest, it doesn’t matter what that ecosystem is – an ecosystem of support, an ecosystem of investment, an ecosystem of ecosystems – the main thing is that in 2016 at a social enterprise conference you have to have an ecosystem that you can talk about. I think for this conference we’ll create an ecosystem of hope. I’ll start: I hope that you win Elevator Cafe’s April 2016 competition offering over £850 worth of prizes.

We’re going to have a celebrity keynote speaker.

Skoll had Al Gore. Not bad. Davos had Kevin Spacey. South by Southwest managed to pull in both Michelle and Barack Obama. That’s pretty impressive. But we can blow all of those out of the water: Ladies and Gentleman, I can exclusively announce that our keynote speaker will be none other than Chief Executive of SSE, Alastair Wilson. Wowsers. He’ll be discussing ‘Social entrepreneurship: a different lens of merit‘. They’ll be queueing for miles.

But now we need a sponsor.

We’ve blown the budget on our keynote speaker. Perhaps I could get in touch with United Way, who are currently offering grants of either £1000 or £10,000 if I apply by April 25th. I did also look at The Discovery Foundation’s grants of £5000 but apparently they won’t fund events, conferences or sponsorship. Meanies.

We’re going to disrupt something.

Similar to an ecosystem, it doesn’t matter what you plan on disrupting at a conference as long as you are disrupting something. Back in the real world, actually doing something properly disruptive is SSE Fellow Naomi Mwasambili, who has just launched MyGuvu. MyGuvu is a wellbeing online platform that enables the public to find and book individual and group appointments from the full range of health and wellbeing services, everything from personal trainers, yoga teachers and support groups, to psychologists, counsellors and arts therapists. They are currently seeking practitioners for the platform and would love a wide range of health and wellbeing providers on there across the UK.

We’re going to ask difficult questions. 

Such as this one from our friends at CAN: What keeps you awake at night? If you can help them out by answering it, you could win one of fifty prizes of a £50 Amazon voucher.

We’re going to welcome delegates from around the world.

When you’ve got a ecosystem-creating conference of disruption featuring a speaker of such magnitude people are going to travel. But it’s not just this conference that people will travel for: if you know a university student who may be interested in a social enterprise work-study programme in Canada this summer point them in the direction of the British Council’s Students for Social Impact Programme (by Sunday). They are also looking for UK social enterprises to offer work placements to students from Canada this summer – if you are interested contact me by email and I’ll pass on the details.

There will be amazing breakout sessions.

Extreme impact measurement. Social investment bungee jumping. Scuba diving with Big Society Capital. These will all be happening. If you are looking for something a little more sedate, however, why not visit the Social Enterprise Arts and Craft Zone? If you’re 16-24 and find you have some stitching skills then you might want to apply to be a Creative Craft Paid Intern at Citizen Coaching in Birmingham. Citizen Coaching was founded by SSE Fellow Martin Hogg and the internships are open to 16-24 year olds currently unemployed or economically inactive.

We are going to get huge press coverage.

CNN. BBC. ITN. NBC. All the three initial news organisations are likely to be in attendance. If you’re coming along, get some media training just in case, or maybe contact Rianna Raymond-Williams of Shine Aloud, who was recently featured on London Live.

We’ll be livestreaming.


Which does rule out hosting it at SSE because our internet connection pre-dates Microsoft. I actually started sending this last Wednesday and you’ve only just got it. Using the web more successfully is Charlie Mitchell, who has just launched two new online accessible courses that are aimed at staff, volunteers and board members of social enterprises and not-for-profit organisations.

There will be a goodie bag.

Perfect to carry all those flyers and business cards that you’ll pick up and never look at again. Dig around and you may find a copy of social enterprise news magazine Pioneers Post – if you like it don’t forget that subscribers of Have I Got Social Enterprise News For You can pick up a discounted subscription. Visit and use the code SSE to grab a discounted rate of £79.

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