For those of us experiencing an extreme condition called “SOCAP withdrawal” after last week’s gathering in San Francisco, the following is a list of 5 upcoming events worldwide that are designed to bring together the most passionate and intelligent folks who care about creating long-lasting, positive changes in society. Consider this a warning, however, because history tells us that attending these events may provide an emotional – in other words joyful, tearful, empowering, inspiring – rollercoaster that may change your life forever.
1) Social Enterprise World Forum 2012 (October 16-18, 2012)
The Social Enterprise World Forum (SEWF) is an initiative of NESsT, an international company that offers support to social enterprises in the planning, incubation, and expansion phases. SEWF focuses on building global awareness of the effectiveness of social enterprises in solving social problems. This year, it takes place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and includes keynotes from social enterprise pioneers and investors, training workshops, presentations, a social enterprise marketplace, a social enterprise awards gala, and live entertainment. Participants are also able to attend site visits to social enterprises in Rio de Janeiro. Attendance is estimated to be over 700 people from more than 30 countries.
This will be the 5th SEWF. The first one was held in Edinburgh, Scotland in 2008 and has since traveled to Melbourne, Australia (2009), San Francisco, California (2009), and Johannesburg, South Africa (2010). SEWF 2012 will focus on “impact investing”, which is an asset class expected to rise globally. Registration for this event is still open.
2) Social Finance Forum 2012 (November 8-9, 2012)
Over in Toronto, Canada, the 5th annual Social Finance Forum hosted by the MaRS Centre for Impact Investing is a 2-day impact investing program that will examine the opportunities and challenges surrounding impact measurement, what makes a good deal, and how existing market opportunities measure up. The momentum for impact investing has been building over the last few years, but key questions still need to be answered: What is impact? How is impact measured? How should we value impact? What is a good deal? Who is impacted?
There will also be pitch sessions from social ventures and workshops for skill-building. By bringing together investors, finance professionals, academics, representatives from government, impact measurement practitioners, and organizations with social missions such as social enterprises, the Social Finance Forum is a place to connect and move ideas forward. Registration for this event is open until November 7.
3) Global Social Business Summit 2012 (November 8-10, 2012)
The 4th annual Global Social Business Summit (GSBS) takes place in Vienna, Austria. “Social business” is a term coined by Nobel laureate Professor Muhammad Yunus to describe a non-loss, non-dividend company with a social objective. Created by Muhammad Yunus’ Grameen Creative Lab, the GSBS brings together experts from corporations, civil society, governments, and academia to foster innovative ideas for social business to serve society’s most pressing needs.
This year, the focus is on creativity coupled with the advantages of technological progress. Numerous international social business entrepreneurs will be present to share their expertise and exchange groundbreaking ideas. Registration for this event is still open.
4) Make a Difference Asia 2013 (January 25-27, 2013)
Since 2010, Make a Difference (MaD) Asia has been putting together an annual forum for over 1,200 difference makers aged 16-35 with a goal of inspiring young people to create positive change in society. The event is held in Hong Kong and divided into four activities: MaD Dialogues is a conversation with seasoned movers and shakers, MaD Studios offers an opportunity to learn methods to create real impact in communities, MaD Experiences is a wide range of experiential activities designed to inspire and empower, and MaD @ West Kowloon takes over the West Kowloon Waterfront Promenade with art, performances, workshops, and other creative activities to foster co-creation.
This year, there will also be a “MaD Venture Fellows Programme” on January 24-27 that will invite social entrepreneurs from around the world to discover investors, partners, and opportunities to take their businesses to the next level. A highlight of the Programme is the “MaD Ventures Salon” which will select six finalist Fellows to pitch their ventures to potential investors and partners. Out of the six finalists, three winners will be invited to present at the main forum. To encourage applications from abroad, Fellows may be eligible for full or partial travel subsidies. Applications are due October 28, 2012.
5) Skoll World Forum 2013 (April 10-12, 2013)
If you want to attend an event that has a high probability of putting tears to your eyes and filling your heart with joy, the Skoll World Forum is the perfect one. An initiative of the Skoll Foundation, the Skoll World Forum was created to recognize and support the world’s leading social entrepreneurs – many of whom have a story to tell about their triumph over adversity. The Forum gathers 900 key government officials, social finance professionals, academics, philanthropic funders, and other key players to tell these stories.
Over three days, attendees engage in debates, discussions, and work sessions aimed at innovating, accelerating, and scaling solutions to social challenges. The Skoll Award For Social Entrepreneurship recipients will also be announced at the gathering. This time, the Skoll World Forum will take place once again in Oxford, UK and will be in its 10th anniversary. Though it is an invitation-only event, applications to attend will be accepted and will open later in the year.
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