On 18-19 June 2015, the first China Social Enterprise and Social Investment Forum (CSESIF) was held at the InterContinental hotel in Shenzhen, Guangdong Province. The Forum was jointly organised by Xu Yongguang, President of the Narada Foundation, and Zheng Weining, President of Canyou Group, as well as 15 other founding member organisations, including Dunhe Foundation, Jack Ma Foundation and Yifang Foundation.
The event was organised with the goal of facilitating cross-border communication and collaboration, promoting the growth of the social enterprise and social investment industries in China and supporting an external environment conducive to the development of these industries.
The forum was attended by over 500 entrepreneurs, investors, scholars, philanthropists and media members from a range of different countries and backgrounds. Over the two day event, various lectures, presentations and panel discussions took place on a wide range of topics related to social enterprise and social investment, both in China and around the world.
Also in attendance was Cliff Prior, CEO of UnLtd UK, who gave a talk on the establishment of a global social enterprise network.
Following the first day of lectures and discussions attended by all participants, the second day consisted of a number of sub-forums on varying topics. As a supporting organiser, the British Council hosted a sub-forum to share UK social enterprise and social investment experience, including talks from Tristan Ace, Global Programme and Partnerships Manager at the British Council, Jessica Stacey, Partner at Bethnal Green Ventures (BGV), and Robin Zhang, Founding Partner of Yu Venture Philanthropy.
Mr Ace talked about the UK’s booming social enterprise sector, saying that “the UK has a distinct offer to act as a global hub for social investment.”
Following this, a panel discussion took place on the potential establishment of a ‘Social Innovation Silicon Valley’ in China. The panel consisted of David Miller, founder of the successful London-based social enterprise ‘Bikeworks’, William Wang, Investment Partner at Yu Venture Philanthropy Fund, Zhang Gaorong, Assistant Dean and Director of Research at Beijing Normal University’s China Philanthropy Research Institute, as well as Ms Stacey from BGV.
The panel discussed supporting mechanisms available in the UK and explored incubation ideas for accelerator programmes to be set up in China. The British Council sub-forum came to a close with a speech from Xu Yongguang, one of the primary organisers of the event.
Discussing the future of social enterprise in China, Mr Xu said he hopes that “China can learn from the best examples from the UK, to bring the best methods and models to China, and to grow and develop them in a way that inspires people to join in and make a difference in their society.”