A policy dialogue titled ‘Social Enterprise: Impact and Opportunities’ took place from 24 to 25 February 2016 at the British Council, Bangladesh Fuller Road auditorium in Dhaka. Policy experts, social enterprise and social investment intermediaries and practitioners from Myanmar, Malaysia, India, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and the UK attended the event. The objective of the event was to focus on the impact and opportunities that social enterprise sector offers, gathering experience from other countries and developing a comprehensive set of policy recommendations for the Government to support the sector’s rapid growth in Bangladesh.
A total of nine sessions involving 33 eminent panellists with invaluable experiences in relevant sectors brought up and talked about issues that are pivotal when it comes to social enterprise. Discussions on health and social enterprise, agriculture and social enterprise, impact measurement, technology and its application in social enterprise, the creative industry and its relevance to social enterprise, communicating social enterprise impact and a session on policy support provided everyone with extensive knowledge and recommendations on how to deal with these issues.
It is fantastic to see this social enterprise program continue to get bigger and better. It is very clear that the world economy is slowing down and you only need to look at the newspapers to see for yourself. There are 70,000 social enterprises in the UK employing more than a million people, most of which outperform smaller medium enterprises. This sort of growth did not happen on its own accord. The government has helped to a great deal with the intent to incubate the growth of social enterprises. Social enterprise brings people from a whole host of other countries, not just Bangladesh and the UK.’’ - Mark Clayton, Deputy High Commissioner, British High Commission in Bangladesh
The policy dialogue facilitated a continuation to the development of a network of policy influencers, social entrepreneurs, academia and private sector enterprise specialists in East Asia, South Asia and the UK. Hedayetullah Al Mamoon, Senior Secretary, Ministry of Commerce, inaugurated the policy dialogue as the chief guest. Mark Clayton, Deputy British High Commissioner in Bangladesh, Barbara Wickham, Country Director of the British Council, Bangladesh, Dave Dawes, Director of Possibilities for Community Health Innovation (CHI) of the UK, Lora Prabhu, Director of CEQUIN (Centre for Equity and Inclusion) of India were also present among others.
Barbara Wickham, Country Director, British Council, Bangladesh said, '' A year ago, we held the first of the Social Enterprise policy dialogues and it proved to be a real accelerant between our countries. Since then, with the generous support of the representing organisations who have made this possible, we’ve launched two capacity building programs to support social enterprises in Bangladesh. The first is the Business and Investment Readiness program. The second is called Innovate, Incubate and Grow. After the last policy dialogue, we have also met separately with the counterparts from the Central Bank and the Ministry of Finance to figure out how we can create an ecosystem for Social Enterprises in Bangladesh.''