The British Council organised a two-day long policy dialogue, ‘Collaboration for Impact’ - the third annual social enterprise forum in Bangladesh on 22 to 23 February 2017 in collaboration with Betterstories, Dnet, Future Startup, mPower and Team Engine and in partnership with the Access to Information (a2i) programme of the Prime Minister’s Office.
This year’s dialogue brought together social entrepreneurs, development professionals, social investors, policy makers, practitioners and stakeholders from Bangladesh, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, and the UK in order to share and learn from experiences and to identify opportunities to accelerate the growth of social enterprise.
Kabir Bin Anwar, Director General (Admin), Prime Minister's Office, Government of the People's Republic of Bangladesh Project Director, Access to Information (a2i) programme inaugurated the event as the chief guest. David Ashley, Deputy British High Commissioner, British High Commission in Bangladesh and Barbara Wickham, Director, British Council were also present as special guests. Peter Holbrook, Chief Executive of Social Enterprise UK presented keynote speech for this event to share the UK’s policies and best practice around the Social Enterprise sector.
Over the course of the two days, a total of seven sessions, involving 24 eminent panelists with invaluable experience in relevant sectors, talked about issues that are pivotal when it comes to social enterprise, and about collaborating with each other to build a sustainable eco-system.
SessionS on first day
In the first panel session of the event that centred on enhancing collaboration to develop more impactful policy, panelists stressed on reasons why the government should recognise the need for social enterprises, and what steps can be taken to create an enabling environment. The second session was titled 'Buy Social: Role of Government, Business, and Consumers' where esteemed members of the panel discussed the difficulties faced by all public and private sectors when it comes to sustainable procurement, and how the process can be made more transparent in nature. In the last session of the inaugural day, panelists discussed the findings from a survey on the state of social enterprise in Bangladesh.
SessionS on second day
The sessions for the second day convened with a brief recap of the proceedings from the first day. The following session revolved around issues relating to developing the capacity of social enterprise leaders in South Asia. The panel covered the basics to build a sustainable social enterprise ecosystem and factors that contribute to the development of social enterprise leaders - access to information, updated infrastructure, clarified task management, and proper mapping of the problem to be solved for compatible solutions were prioritised.
The subsequent session focused on growing the social investment market in Bangladesh where panel members discussed the challenges faced by entrepreneurs in terms of investment and how to overcome them. The panelists consisted of people from the government sector, financial sector and legal sectors; therefore the discussions were thorough in terms of the legal and financial aspects where most agreed on the need for a legal framework which supports social investment. The next discussion linked social enterprise and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), where social enterprises were advised to focus on multiple SDGs in the long-term, keeping their core purpose intact after discussing the impact of their goals on society.The final session consisted of an interactive workshop between the participants at the dialogue to develop a social enterprise strategy for Bangladesh.
Finally, the policy dialogue concluded with the discussion of the outcomes, recommendations and the hope of collaboration – building an inclusive community to further the growth of the sector, for a brighter future.