The Ultimate Guide to Social Enterprise Conferences

An entrepreneur is an individual who manages a new enterprise (very often a business) of their own creation, whilst assuming the risks of this new venture.

A social entrepreneur, then, is an entrepreneur who drives for social change and progress. Social entrepreneurs have innovative ideas and solutions to the social problems in society. They are capable of identifying the social problems at hand and are driven to create positive social change within society.

Unlike business entrepreneurs, social entrepreneurs seek the value in changing the societal problems of a community and furthermore society overall. Social entrepreneurs seek the value of social change, as opposed to business entrepreneurs who seek the value in profits. Social entrepreneurs spearhead innovative methods of helping those who are disadvantaged and marginalized, and with the impact of social entrepreneurs, the means to successfully effect social change in a society are realized.

Why Should You Attend Social Entrepreneurship Conferences?

Social entrepreneurship conferences, or social enterprise conferences, are comprised of a variety of individuals, including professionals, students, and speakers, who seek to educate, learn about, network, and collaborate on social entrepreneurship ventures. Social enterprise conferences are a great tool for any social entrepreneur to expand their knowledge about social enterprise and network with other social entrepreneurs.

Social enterprise conferences are beneficial to anyone working on a socially responsible business idea, seeking a career with a non-profit working on social change, or otherwise using innovative ideas to promote change to society’s social problems. At a social entrepreneurship conference, social entrepreneurs can learn about ways to establish effective social change. No matter what stage of social entrepreneur you are, social enterprise conferences will prove to be beneficial to you.

Social entrepreneurship conferences help beginning entrepreneurs gain knowledge and tools to successfully start social enterprises, help social entrepreneurs already working with a business or non-profit to learn about the best practices to successfully effect social change, and help advanced entrepreneurs to network with others, learn from each other, and gain support for their social enterprise. By building a connection with others at a social enterprise conference, social entrepreneurs can advance social enterprise and gain access to additional capital, opportunities, and resources.

Social Enterprise Conferences

The following social enterprise conferences are excellent for all levels of social entrepreneurs to attend, learn from, network, collaborate, and share ideas. These social entrepreneurship conferences host an abundance of information and resources to spread the ideas of social change and to help social entrepreneurs to advance their innovative socially conscious ideas.

The Social Enterprise Conference at Harvard Business School and Harvard Kennedy School


The Social Enterprise Conference features over 100 speakers and panelists sharing a wealth of information and knowledge on addressing social issues and advancing as a social entrepreneur. The conference participants, which number over 1,000, include professionals, students, and alumni. The participants have a chance to network with other social entrepreneurs, learn from experts in the field, and explore career opportunities. The Social Enterprise Conference has workshops and small group lunches with leaders in non-profit, public, and private fields, as well as the Social Enterprise Career Fair and the Pitch for Change competition, in which entrants submit proposals and pitch their ideas for new social enterprise ventures. The Social Enterprise Conference was last held on February 27th and 28th 2010 at Harvard Business School and Harvard Kennedy School in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Social Enterprise Summit and World Forum


The Social Enterprise Summit and World Forum is a 3 day conference of panels and sessions that brings together social entrepreneurs from over 30 countries around the world. The hundreds of people attending the Social Enterprise Summit and World Forum learn about social entrepreneurship, share ideas with other social entrepreneurs, network, and make connections. There were over 40 panels and workshops at the 2010 Social Enterprise Summit and World Forum held April 28-30 in San Francisco, California. There were also tours of social enterprises based in San Francisco, as well as the Social Enterprise Leadership Awards to honor the most inspirational social entrepreneurs. In 2011, the Social Enterprise Summit and World Forum will be held in Chicago, Illinois.

Columbia Business School Social Enterprise Conference


The Columbia Business School Social Enterprise Conference brings together thought and industry leaders along with industry professionals, including social sector and business leaders, entrepreneurs, and investors, to continue maturing the field of social enterprise. The 2011 Columbia Business School Social Enterprise Conference is a one day event held on October 7th in New York, and the focus of this year’s Social Enterprise Conference is “Redefining Return: Financing and Scaling Social Innovation.”

Social Venture Capital/Social Enterprise Conference


The Social Venture Capital/Social Enterprise Conference seeks to advocate economic development and social enterprise locally in Miami, Florida, where this conference for social entrepreneurs takes place. The 2011 Social Venture Capital/Social Enterprise Conference, which will be held April 4-6, 2011 at the Miami Beach Convention Center, focuses on the theme “Get Connected,” connecting to such things as knowledge, capital, the best practices, metrics, and the Latin American/Caribbean Diaspora, which is connected with the Miami area through social enterprise leaders, capital, and organizations. At this 2011 conference for social entrepreneurs, there is expected to be at least 1000 leaders from over 40 countries, connecting on social enterprise issues, tactics, and ideas.


Emerge is one of the leading conferences on social entrepreneurship for students and it happens every year at the Saïd Business School, University of Oxford. It is organized by the Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship, Oxford University and StudentHubs and is open to all students everywhere. Emerge brings leading social innovators to Oxford to inspire and inform students through their stories of impact. The event supports students pursuing careers in social entrepreneurship with workshops and networking opportunities.

Emerge also features an Ideas Competition, which identifies budding social entrepreneurs and helps launch their ideas into viable businesses. Emerge 2010 will be held November 27-28th in Oxford.

Social Venture Partners Conference


This conference for social entrepreneurs connects the Social Venture Partners annually. The Social Venture Partners are a collection of individuals who use philanthropy to make the world a better place for everyone by promoting positive social change. The 2010 Social Venture Partners Conference will take place from October 21-23 in Long Beach, California. This social entrepreneurship conference helps attendees collaborate, connect, and network with one another to promote collective positive social action amongst non-profit organizations through breakout sessions, plenaries, and keynote speakers.

Skoll World Forum on Social Entrepreneurship


The Skoll World Forum on Social Entrepreneurship is a joint venture between the Skoll Foundation and The Skoll Center For Social Entrepreneurship at Saïd Business School, University of Oxford. The Skoll World Forum seeks to encourage collaboration among social entrepreneurs, social investors, and other thought leaders in the quest for effective solutions to the world’s most serious problems. In addition to the speakers and panelists, the Skoll World Forum hosts the Skoll Awards for Social Entrepreneurship. 2010 Awardees included the founders of Telapak, a social enterprise working to fight deforestation in Indonesia, Imazon, an independent monitoring system for the Amazon Rainforest, and the One Acre Fund, an enterprise working to empower rural farmers in Africa. The 2011 Skoll World Forum will be held March 30-April at the University of Oxford.

Global Social Venture Conference


The Global Social Venture Conference is a two day conference held in Berkeley, California and organized by the University of California Haas School of Business. The event combines a social enterprise conference with the awards ceremony for the annual Global Social Venture Competition, a student-led business plan competition that provides financial rewards, publicity, and mentoring for winners, such as Re:Motion Designs, a company that provides high performance, low cost prosthetic limbs to amputees in the developing world. In addition to the awards dinner, the conference includes a symposium, panel discussions, and speakers. The 2010 conference was held April 22-23, 2010.

SHINE Unconference for Social Entrepreneurs


The SHINE Unconference for Social Entrepreneurs seeks to provide a “mini business school” to beginning and experience social entrepreneurs alike that will provide practical tools and advice, mentorship, and networking opportunities to help social enterprises succeed. A unique feature of the conference is its one-on-one advice sessions, pairing new entrepreneurs with experienced mentors to work on topics such as marketing, funding, investment, and more. The 2010 SHINE Unconference was held May 13-15, 2010 in London, England.

Satter Conference on Social Entrepreneurs


The Satter Conference on Social Entrepreneurs features experts from the fields of academia, non-profit, and for-profit business discussing knowledge, theories and strategies for social enterprise success, with a focus on measuring social impact and fundraising. The conference emphasizes practical, hands-on solutions and instruction for attendees and will be held starting November 5, 2010 at New York University’s Stern School of Business.



Voice10 is the annual conference of the UK-based Social Enterprise Coalition. The 2010 conference, which was held February 1-2 in Cardiff, Wales, attracted nearly 1,000 delegates and exhibitors to a wide variety of panels, discussions, and breakout sessions exploring everything from the basics of starting and setting up a social enterprise to expansion, mergers and acquisitions, and more. Voice10 also offers free “surgery” sessions for social entrepreneurs seeking customized business, financial, or legal advice.

Social Capital Markets


Social Capital Markets, commonly known as SOCAP, is an annual conference focusing on “the intersection of money and meaning,” including social investing, corporate philanthropy, and social entrepreneurship. The schedule features seven “tracks,” including tactical philanthropy, mobile technology, food systems, innovation in international development, impact investing, new money, and metrics and systems thinking. SOCAP10 will be held October 4, 5, and 6th in San Francisco, CA.

The Unite for Site Global Health and Innovation Conference


This social entrepreneurship conference connects leaders, change makers, and other participants from the field of social entrepreneurship as well as the fields of global health and international development. The Unite for Site Global Health and Innovation Conference consisting of over 2,000 participants from over 55 countries connects individuals who seek to use social entrepreneurship to identify global issues and create positive social change. This 2011 conference for social entrepreneurs will take place on April 16th and 17th in New Haven, Connecticut.

The Social Enterprise World Forum

The Social Enterprise World Forum (SEWF) focuses on the practical, how to side of running a successful social enterprise and includes opportunities for networking and marketing as well as panel discussions, presentations, keynote speakers, and other events. The 2011 Social Enterprise World Forum will be held April 5-7 in Johannesburg, South Africa and will focus on social enterprise as a catalyst for sustainable development.

Main Image Credit: Renjie Butalid

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  1. […] can find about various business plan competitions from friends or by attending social enterprise conferences. You could also try our list of business plan competitions for social entrepreneurs from around the […]

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