On November 11, the first Social Entrepreneurship and Social Venture Summit was held in Shanghai, China. Jointly organized by the Social Enterprise ResearchCentre (SERC), the Knowledge and Innovation Community, and the 21st Century Business Herald, the event attracted over 260 guests from corporations, NGOs, social enterprises, and academic institutions as well as investors, government officials, and over 20 mainstream media organizations.
The forum aimed to set up a communication platform for social capital and social enterprise– a great need in this region. Social entrepreneurs attended not only to connect with investors but also to participate in the knowledge sharing of other practitioners in the field. Zhu Xiaobin, the Director of SERC, highlighted the timeliness of this convening in his opening speech: “We have strong faith that social transformation and social innovation will stand out for the next 30 years. How to solve emerging social problems … by effective commercial means … has become the issue which social entrepreneurs, social investors as well as the government are all concerned about.”
A keynote speech by Luo Jiade, a professor in the Department of Sociology at Tsinghua University, also emphasized the importance of this trend in China. He made the point that positive social relations and well-established social networks will bring a thriving market as well as a healthy civil society. And the vigor of a country’s civil society plays no less an important role than the institutional reform at its highest levels, he concluded. By facilitating this process, the forum advanced the concept of social enterprise to the mainstream market as well as to the public.
A social entrepreneurship exhibit also provided a platform for organizations to showcase their work. Fourteen projects were featured in a “pitching” session.
For entrepreneurs, it was an excellent opportunity to present their work to an audience of interested investors and supporters. Those simply wishing to learn more about the field found an abundance of insight and expertise from the forum’s presentations. Despite being the first event of its kind held nationwide, feedback from attendees was positive and, more importantly, reflected optimism about the flourishing of social enterprise in China.