SES 2014 Recap on Final Thoughts & Policy Dialogue
From：SES Secretariat View：530 Date：2014-11-20
Final Thoughts by Dr. K K Tse
The Social Enterprise Summit held earlier this month in Hong Kong was another spectacular success. To most participants, the Summit was a two- or three-day event. By contrast, I have had the fortune of having six days of the Summit in one go. No wonder I felt blessed that I benefited so much from it. I am sharing with you below what I experienced and gained in these six days in the hope that you have an equally rewarding Summit in the coming years.
The first day of the Summit, Monday, November 3
In the morning, I met with Caroline Watson of the Beijing-based social enterprise Hua Dan to explore the possibility of bringing it to HK. I was much impressed by Hua Dan’s success in using participative theatre to train up female migrant workers to become performers, directors, and trainers. The model should also work in HK engaging other disadvantaged women.
In the afternoon, the Summit commenced with three keynote speakers, Jenny Bowen of Half the Sky Foundation, Scott Sherman of Transformative Action Institute, and Meera Shah of Shell Foundation. I was particularly impressed by Jenny and Scott, although it was heartening to hear Meera representing a commercial organization so much involved in social entrepreneurship.
This was followed by the Dinner to Remember, held on the floating restaurant in Aberdeen. The Dinner has now become one of the most memorable events of the annual Summit. This year also witnessed the staging of Grand Silence by Dialogue in Silence, during which a large team of hearing-impaired friends entertained the guests with a silent performance.
In my table, we were honored to have a special overseas guest, Amy Neugebauer, Deputy to the President of Ashoka. She had come to HK specifically for the Summit and I was too busy to arrange a meeting with her that I invited her to join our table. She was much impressed by what was happening in HK in the social entrepreneurship field.
Tuesday, November 4
I was the facilitator of the session on Changemakers in Asia in which two distinguished social entrepreneurs from Singapore were the speakers. They were: Benny Se Teo, Founder and Head Chef, Eighteen Chefs, and Koh Seng Choon, Executive Director, Project Dignity. To say that they were impressive would be an understatement; they were both extremely inspirational, highly entertaining, and provocatively creative. As we know, the single largest category of social enterprises in HK is catering. But none of our businesses comes close to these two examples from Singapore in terms of scale and social impact. Unfortunately, I did not see too many operators of our catering social enterprises present at this sharing. Roger Lai of Gingko House was the only one I spotted at the audience.
The HSBC sponsored Business Luncheon on Technology for Social Enterprise was another highlight of the day. The speaker was Catherine Bracy of Code for America. For those who know about the power and impact of Teach for America founded by Wendy Kopp, you would appreciate the potential impact of Code for America. One figure that Catherine mentioned struck me absolutely: for government IT projects with budget of over US$10million, 94% failed. I do not know the corresponding figure in HK, but I presume it would also be very high. This was certainly my experience when I was a management consultant back in the 1990s. This demonstrates how much we could do from the civic sector, including giving a hand to the public sector in shaping and enhancing its service.