This week 50 social enterprise leaders from 12 countries are uniting in Scotland ahead of the 2018 Social Enterprise World Forum in Edinburgh. This marks the first time the Social Enterprise Academy, started in Scotland in 2004 and operating in Australia since 2014, has brought together its international partners.

Global movement

Social enterprise has spread around the world, gaining momentum over the last 20 years as a new way of doing business and tackling social and environmental issues.

Social enterprise support in Australia

Social Enterprise Academy, operated in Australia by the Australian Centre for Rural Entrepreneurship (ACRE) since 2014, has grown as part of Australia’s ecosystem of support for people leading social and environmental innovation in its communities. Alongside other social enterprise support organisations, the Academy delivers leadership, entrepreneurship and impact measurement programs, responsive to local needs and facilitated by local entrepreneurs.

‘If we are to meet complex social and environmental challenges, investment in the people leading change is essential’, says Matt Pfahlert, Hub Manager of Social Enterprise Academy Australia.

In a world first Australia has now signed a social license agreement with the Social License Academy in Scotland which will allow ACRE to access with certainty the world class learning and development materials SEA have created over the years. It also marks an important milestone after two years of pilot programs, sharing information and experiences and collaborating locally and internationally.

Both the Social Enterprise Academy and ACRE have a shared sense of values around being collaborative and a catalyst for change, being nimble whilst remaining independent, being entrepreneurial and ready to try new ideas.

Both parties grow communities through the vehicle of social enterprise. Using social enterprise, communities build sustainable approaches to increasing their social and economic capital simultaneously. Beyond just skills and knowledge, the Social Licensee’s community development approach fosters the trust and collaboration needed to build networks and an embedded culture.

Learning to change the world

Since 2012, the Academy has responded to demand to replicate and share its model as part of a growing global movement.

Alongside Australia, Malawi, Zambia, South Africa, Malaysia, China, India, Pakistan, Wales, New Zealand and Canada are all countries with SEA teams in development. Exporting learning programs, often in partnership with the British Council, the Academy finds a local partner to adapt its model for the local context under a ‘social licence’.  By cascading skills and a business model and sharing systems, its core team supports 90 Associate Learning Facilitators and 60 staff around the world.  Together they have reached almost 3000 learners with transformational learning experiences since 2012.

Growing an international social enterprise

Building social enterprise supply chains, global model with local adaptation, the Academy aims to operate sustainably in each country to meet local needs.