On Wednesday 20 May 2015, a press conference for the launch of the China-UK Social Enterprise and Social Investment Research Centre, the first research centre of its kind to focus on the social sector, was held at the British Council offices in Beijing.

The research centre will engage in awareness raising, capacity building and policy research activities so as to drive forward the development of social enterprise and social investment in China. The British Council’s role will be to help establish connections between relevant Chinese and UK experts and organisations and facilitate exchange between them.

As a joint project between the British Council and the China Philanthropy Research Institute of Beijing Normal University, both Carma Elliot, China Country Director at the British Council, and Wang Zhenyao, Dean of the China Philanthropy Research Institute, gave speeches at the launch event.

The event was also attended by 15 members from various Chinese media outlets, including journalists from China Daily, the Beijing Times, China Youth Daily and Economic Daily.

In her opening speech, Ms. Elliot said that “the scale and cost of addressing [social] issues require a joined up response from a wide variety of actors…Social enterprise is able to bring these different parts together and provide innovative solutions that improve people’s lives in our communities and societies.”

Dean Wang called the establishment of the research centre “extremely significant”, and said that it would “have a positive influence on the future development of business culture in China, the UK and internationally.”

Both Ms. Elliot and Dean Wang then took part in a discussion hosted by Jack Yu, Director of Society at the British Council. The discussion covered topics such as China-UK exchange and the future prospects of China’s social enterprise sector.

During the discussion, Ms. Elliot highlighted the exchange element of the centre’s work, saying that “this research centre will enable us to connect those in need of assistance with those able to provide assistance.”

The assembled media were then given the opportunity to put some questions to both Ms. Elliot and Dean Wang.

Responding to a question about the relationship between charity and social enterprise, Dean Wang said that “Chinese philanthropy organisations must improve their income from services, and not rely so much on donations.

"By building on the foundation of social enterprise, we are able to use business methods to solve social problems.”

Source: British Council Society Team

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