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Cross Cultural Collaboration: Managing Beyond Borders

A great idea takes great implementation and working across borders (any border) is not always easy.  Theory only gets you so far when managing beyond borders, this session enabled attendees to learn from practitioners who do it everyday.

This session was moderated by Kristin Hayden, Founder/Executive Director, OneWorldNow! ), and featured:

  • Francesca Agnello, Coordinator, ACRACCS
  • Eve Blossom, Founder, Lulan Artisans
  • Andrea Coleman, Co-founder and CEO, Riders for Health

Transcript of session:

Kristin Hayden: We’re here to talk about cross cultural collaboration and although we all work internationally, which I think is the very traditional way to think about cross cultural collaboration, we would like to go a little deeper today to talk about how that shows up in all areas of our work, even when we don’t go anywhere. There are lots of cultures and worlds to step in and out of every single day and to be mindful of that and how taking on this work in a cross cultural collaborative way is actually the bigger game. And I think the question that we have asked ourselves too is why is it worth it to do this work which is sometimes actually, very uncomfortable.

I thought that yesterday. If you heard the plenary with Al Etmanski, who talked about the spiritual canoe and how there’s room for everybody in that canoe. I love that metaphor. I think that also summarizes much of our approach in cross cultural collaboration. Be he also touched on that it’s really hard and sometimes we don’t want to do it. I appreciated that he named that, that sometimes we would just say ‘it’s just difficult to work with you or I don’t understand you and I don’t want to do that’. Why would we choose anyway to move through that and do that.

I am the founder and executive director of an organization called “One World Now.” We are based in Seattle, Washington and we work with under-served high school youth teaching Arabic and Chinese and leadership and sending students to the Middle East and China. We work with students in the Seattle area. High school students, mostly low-income, minority youth in Seattle and also in Hawaii. Then, of course, we work with our partners in the Middle East and in China.

I’ll tell you what motivates me to do this work is that when I find myself in these very uncomfortable situations, my biggest motivation is to think of my students. I think to myself, “Kristin, what would you be coaching your students to do right now? You would be saying like, ‘Get over that, move through that?’” I swear, that is the motivating, guiding principal when I find myself just exasperated or that that  this is too hard. And I think, “You know what? You gotta model what you are teaching these youth and you gotta take that on.”

I had the privilege of meeting with all of these fantastic, inspiring women before this panel and it’s not that it becomes necessarily any easier, and we’ll talk about that too. It’s a choice that you just gotta choose every day. It may get more comfortable but it’s not like you just figure it out, that cross cultural collaboration thing. But it is the bigger game, and as one of our panelists said to me earlier, it’s the only way to do business in this new paradigm.

I want to introduce our phenomenal panelists and let them tell you a little bit more about their individual work. But I’ve got to say, we’ve got a great variety of perspectives here.

I just met Eve Blossom today from Lulan Artisans. She has worked all over the world. She works particularly with artisans in Cambodia, India, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam creating sustainable jobs in textiles as an alternative to them ending up in human trafficking. She’s also just launched a new venture called, “Weave,” which is bigger and is now completely global. Eve is based in San Francisco.

Francesca comes all the way from Italy and Francesca has a huge international background working in Kenya, Philippines, Cambodia, Sudan. She, about four years ago, joined Acra in Italy which was doing work in a very typical, charitable, old school way on poverty alleviation, essentially, around the world. They brought on Francesca basically to create this shift in their culture to shift their model to more of a social enterprise model. And Francesca’s been leading those efforts and she’ll tell us about that.

Then we have, Andrea Coleman, the CEO of Riders for Health which is a super cool innovative organization that basically maintains motorcycles and other transport to deliver health care throughout Africa. That’s all I’ll say. Just that in itself sounds like a pretty interesting social enterprise.

Andrea Coleman: What Riders for Health does is to run and manage the vehicles that deliver health care in rural Africa. We do that because when we first visited Africa twenty-six years ago we were very shocked to see women being taken to hospital in wheelbarrows, children not being immunized and nobody being able to get out to reach them and them not being able to get to health care.

In the Ministry of Health parking lots we saw a lot of vehicles. Relatively new, maybe five hundred miles on the clock or eight thousand. But, nevertheless, really very much under-used but broken. We thought “this is no good, this is crazy”. So why would it be us? Why would we decide to do that? Why would it be me and my husband who would decide to do that?

We both have a background in motorcycles. I was brought up in a motorcycle racing community and all my family were engineers and I started to race motorcycles. So I understand motorcycles. I know how they work. I know how engines work. But it seemed so crazy to us that here were people actually dying of easily preventable and curable diseases and other things that affect people, simply because nobody had ever been trained to run and manage vehicles.

An internal combustion engine was invented one hundred and seventeen years before. This was crazy. It made me actually very angry and I remain angry to this day. Every time I think of health workers having to walk for, you know, highly trained people who maybe have five or ten thousand people to serve. They can’t get there. They have either walk or they have to catch a bus, which usually breaks down. Or they’re away from their families for a long time. And then there are rural communities where women don’t know the what causes malaria because they’ve never had the education. Nobody’s ever been able to get out to them to tell them.

This didn’t seem reasonable to us so we began by training people to do all the practical things that you have to do to maintain vehicles: supply chain of parts from Japan, storage management and technical skills for maintaining vehicles for wheeled vehicles and motorcycles. We train men and women. We have some fantastic Muslim women in the Gambia who are terrific mechanics. We’ve got a lot of women in Nigeria who are amazing mechanics.

We started with that but from the point at which you can run and manage vehicles and they are predictable and reliable so you can make sure there are health tailored solutions to specific health issues. We’re doing simple transport that’s to do a diagnosis and making sure that specimens get to labs and the reports returned, and referring women to hospital in threatening labour and other medical issues.

The one thing I know about our organization, Riders for Health, is that we put together the very practical things that people ignore in health care. ‘Things’ are the infrastructure, the greasy hands things, the immunization can’t get into that child without those very practical things. You can’t immunize a child with a mobile phone by the way. I’m sure you all know that. But it turns out that people think, “ah well, you can leap frog this mobility thing by the mobile phone”. They’re great partners but they’re not one solution to the other.

We think about financial models. The financial models are really, really important. For me, the financial models are absolutely key because in charity people very rarely talk about the money and we talk about the money.

Francesca Agnello: I’m Francesca Agnello. I work for Acra, an Italian NGO. My background, it’s a financial background. I come from the financial world, but I’ve been now in development for fifteen years in the fields of micro-finance and business development. I worked in Kenya for three years, in the Philippines, I worked from Philippines to China and Kyrgyzstan. Then Cambodia for three years and the Sudan was my last post.

For four years I’ve worked for this Italian NGO, which, as Kristin was saying, is very traditional, used to be a very traditional NGO. It works in sixteen countries. Eighty-two projects. Six hundred staff. What my work entails is shift the organization from a very traditional international corporation activity to a more, well, we really need to change something.

Now we have tried a lot of things and one of the very exciting approaches that we are bringing forward is the support of social enterprises. I want to make a concrete example of what we do, how we bring this into our work. This all started because we met a fantastic person, Martin Burt, a very exceptional social entrepreneur in Paraguay who told us about how he started as a micro-finance institution. Then, seeing the chronic problems in education in Paraguay, started this San Francisco Agricultural School which adopted a very special model as it runs seventeen businesses within the campus and pays for itself. As a result, children from poor backgrounds can become students in the school without paying a fee and they get a very high quality education. The impact of this school is great. One hundred percent of the students are getting employment within four months from leaving the course.

When we saw this this, we thought that this is great. And we thought well, you know, we have the same problems in many countries where we’ve been for long time. We’d been working in education in Tanzania for ten years and still there are lot of problems, very similar to the ones that the school in Paraguay was attacking.

We thought, “let’s try and bring this model to Tanzania and, and of course, Tanzania is very different. It has double poverty from Paraguay. Unemployment is double from Paraguay. So maybe if you look at the numbers you’ll think, “you’re crazy, what are you doing?” But we took the risk and this was the first time that a very traditional NGO took the risk to start a social enterprise in Tanzania. It started two years ago. We had, of course, a lot of challenges because we had to adopt the model to a very different environment.

The children, after seven years of schooling in Tanzania, barely know how to write and read. So we had to add a year to the school course so the first year is focusing on the basics: math, Swahili and English. Then the other three years are on rural entrepreneurship. The poverty levels are higher. Students are more vulnerable.

So what did we do? We brought in health services for the students. Health check-ups for the students. They pay a small fee in kind to help the parents.

Local staff lacks competencies and this was a big struggle so we had to train and we have a very strong director that trains the staff and teachers.

The markets are different so the seventeen productive units are different. They do carpentry. They do hotel management. Poultry, they sell eggs and they sell chickens. Car, masonry and it depends on the month. They also stopped business which didn’t work and they moved on to another one. They constantly change the business units and the students and the teachers run the business units.

This is something that has brought us to think about cross culture management within our work, bringing different views and different cultures, and it has brought a lot of challenges.

Eve Blossom: I’m Eve Blossom and I started Lulan in 2003. What brought me to doing social entrepreneurship and all these different cross cultural collaborations was I started my career as an architect. I was living in Vietnam, renovating old French villas as offices. It was a really exciting time to be in Hanoi. It was 1995, ’96.  Vietnam was changing, it was an incredible time to be there.

One evening I overheard a European man talking about how he had bought a young girl from her father for sex. She was six years old. I’m a designer, so I don’t know this stuff. I didn’t know this existed. I didn’t know anything about it. I tried to intervene and it went terribly wrong and didn’t change any outcome whatsoever.

I started researching human trafficking and I decided that this actually could really be impacted by a very for-profit social venture model because, if you think about what the problems are, it’s an economic issue. Nobody wants to talk about it, but human trafficking is a marketplace and a human being is a product that someone is selling. I know that’s a terrible way to say it, but that’s how it’s looked at. It is a marketplace.

I believe that you have to create a different marketplace in the sense of giving economic options to these artisans. I’m about design, and the one thing you don’t want to do is walk in and start doing farming if you don’t know anything about farming. I know about design, so I worked with artisans.

We work with artisans in five different countries: Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Thailand and India. We create jobs so that they’re in a situation where they have economic options. If the father needs to sell his middle daughter, he doesn’t have to do that anymore if they’re having consistent work.

I had this idea way back in ’95, ’96 and the market did not allow for me to launch a company like that. Just because you have an idea, the market might not be ready. I hate that. But when you’re sitting there and you’re saying “when will the market be ready?, when will there be enough consumers that would want to buy these kinds of products and really want to know the story behind them?, and that they would buy because of the story?” That’s where I wanted to be. So every two years I kept researching and in 2002, on my honeymoon of all things, I realized that they were ready. So we launched the company in 2003, and that’s Lulan.

Through the last year’s ups and downs and the economies, I noticed that the future of business has to be where we can really take technology and spread it even further in scale. That’s why we launched last Tuesday at CGI ‘Weave’. Weave is this e-commerce community. We’re working with artisans all around the world now and not just textiles but, you name it, glassware, reclaimed wood.

The most exciting part is that I’m doing job creation for the United States of America even though our government is fricking shut down! Job creation right now in Europe and the United States is very much needed and it makes me very excited to help any artisan anywhere.

Makers around the world are the same. We keep thinking of artisans of somewhere way far away, like developing countries, and they’re right here in Canada, they’re right in the United States. We are all makers. We all want to use our hands. We all want to use local materials and sell them to local people and have local support. And this idea that there is an artisan far, far away is just ludicrous. We’re all artisans. We’re all makers and there are people who want to do this for a living and it doesn’t matter where you are, we will all support that.

Kristin: Thank you. So now you have a little bit of context of who our panelists are. We thought we would do audience questions later. We thought it would be helpful to us to hear from you. Of all the panels you could have gone to, a lot of different panels today, but chose Cross Cultural Collaboration! Thank you for choosing that. We would just like to hear from a few of you, especially now that you have a little bit more context about who is here, why you chose this panel and what you want to get out of it? Here’s a chance to be bold, get out of your comfort zone, stand up and tell us why.

Comment: Last summer I volunteered with a non-profit education organization and we traveled to Brazil and worked in the community. One of the main issues was actually dealing with different viewpoints. I was like really excited to come here, I’m not good with that. I’d like to learn more about differing points of view.

Comment: I work in Aboriginal communities and what we do is if communities want to share their culture or their artwork or whatever, we sort of help them with training and that kind of thing. Not everybody wants to share that so I’m also looking for people who want to help Aboriginal communities  because there are huge challenges like the remoteness to access or some have a baby and it’s hard to balance the two.

Audience Member: I feel like I’m always meeting people would like to help and don’t know how and meeting people who like would help and don’t how to get it. People have beautiful things and don’t know how to share them. I’m very interested to hear how you managed to create connections.

Kristin: Thank you, that is all very helpful. Before I ask the next question, I just want to know because there was a lot of rich questions here in context, would any of you like to address something that you’ve specifically?

Eve: When I started this company, I mean what we always do, is the first thing we do is assess an organization themselves. The cooperative movement had already locally organized, they’re self-managed, they’re self-organized, they’re self-running. Everything. And we partner with them. But when we go and we assess them the first thing I say is, “You know, I’m not here just to assess you, you should be assessing me. That if we’re doing this partnership it is a peer-to-peer partnership.”

When we start looking at the work we can do with them, first thing I do is look at the techniques they use. How many there are? Who are the people that are doing this? How many kids are, will be educated through working together? How many are men, how many are women? What does the village look like? Or, if we’re in a small town, what does it look like? What is going to be the impact with the community at large? What are the opportunities that we could have?

There’s a lot of urban migration going on and that’s where we can make the biggest difference because human trafficking is actually going into the cities. Because of that urban migration we’re actually outside a lot of outskirts of cities. That’s how we started. We flip-flopped. It’s very interesting.

The reason I bring all that up is, as a designer, I look and say “How can I best show the world your work that will have a biggest audience for the right price with the right colors that are trendy, but that are also still going to fit into your culture? They’re going to be meaningful to you, that you will be proud to do it. That would fit and make the right impact financially.”  We really do sit around and that’s how we make every decision. I know that sounds like crazy. Like how? That’s a matrix in itself.

You can’t make one decision. I can’t say to them, “You know, geometrics are in, what are you going to do with geometrics? And you know this lime green is in.” You have to think about is so if lime green is in, how is that natural dyes? No. Is that low impact dyes? What does this mean? We really have to look at what we can do and it has to really fit them still. I really mean that because what we do, even with Weave right now, I sit around, we do fit calls. That’s what we call them. Does this fit them? Do we, does this model fit them? Because if it doesn’t it’s a waste of time.

If it doesn’t fit, the most important thing you can do for a group is to say, “You don’t fit now. And let me tell you the three reasons you don’t, and come back when you do, because we can still work with you.” It’s really important because when you tell someone you don’t fit our model what does that mean to them culturally? Like ok, that’s your assessment based on your things. It has to have meaning again for them. So I think if you really are thoughtful in how you set up the whole process from A to Z, it’s really important. Really important.

Andrea: One of the things that people very rarely think about when they’re looking at a social enterprise is some of the fundamentals, some of the really very basic infrastructure issues. One of the cross cultural issues we wondered about when we first came to look at the issues we were looking at in Africa, was “is this something people want?”

People have actually said to us, “you know, Africans like walking.” Of course they love walking, but I don’t want to carry a child on my back and have water on my head, those are circumstances in which I don’t like walking. And certainly not when I’m in labor.

You have to think about “what is cultural?” Is it cultural that people don’t maintain vehicles? No. It’s because nobody has ever come along with the expertise. The industrial revolution missed Africa because everybody was dragging all the things they wanted out of it and left nothing behind and they didn’t train anybody to maintain vehicles. You can’t even build roads because the vehicles that make roads break down all the time because nobody knows how to maintain them.

There is an issue of looking at what is cultural and what is just an area of real neglect and something that nobody has prioritized or thought was important. An interesting thing about the communities you’re talking about, there’s a senator from the liberal government who contacted us, the Canadian government. She was a transport minister in the last government for you. She said we have these same problems. We have isolated communities. We can’t reach them with health care. They don’t have sanitation just the same way. Never crossed my mind. But you do have to think about what is this, what is this that we are looking at? And much of this is training.

People won’t climb out of poverty without some of the very, very basic things. Teaching people to be plumbers. Teaching people to be electricians. To be mechanics. To be road builders. Everybody’s given the aspiration of wanting to be a doctor or a lawyer. Are we creating actually a new culture that isn’t really very helpful? Why should everybody be an academic? Why does everybody have to be a doctor or lawyer? Why does everybody have to be an entrepreneur? Some people just want a job and do it really well and go home and be trained really well. While you’re looking at all the work you’re doing, what is cultural and what’s kind of just neglect?

Francesca: How do we keep an eye on local culture and make sure that in our work we take care of that? What I showed you might seem something that has brought from somewhere and thrown into a local culture without great care, and yes, we have challenged local culture. We definitely have with this model. I mean education in Tanzania is very much based on repeating and repeating lesson. Teacher says it once and the students have to repeat, repeat and repeat. We did definitely change something in there. But why do I think that we did it in the right way and we could do it because we had a ten year old partner, the Dioceses. Actually, the bishop is part of the board of the school in Tanzania. The bishop is a very trusted person in the community and he definitely made it possible to get into this community and to try to change the vocational training system there.

We did bring in Martin Burt who is in the board. We have a local entrepreneur, a Tanzanian enterprise,  director on the board. We had a mix of people with different backgrounds and cultures and challenged the local culture. But with the respect of the local culture.

Kristin: Andrea you touched on this a bit about going in and asking those questions, but what are your best strategies for approaching cross cultural collaboration, particularly in an entirely new context when you know that you have this model that has worked in other places and you’d like to bring it here. So what works for you?

Andrea: We’re in seven different countries: in Africa, in west and east and southern Africa. Not in South Africa, but southern Africa. Every single team that runs our organizations are local people, no people of nationals of the countries in which we work. We don’t have any ex-patriots working in those programs in any way at all.

I think that that’s very helpful. And it works in two ways. If I can give Nigeria as an example, one of the reasons that it’s important to have a leadership and a staff that are local is because we would get ourselves into the most awful trouble in Nigeria if we didn’t have a local staff. And, actually, we wouldn’t understand. We could get seriously into difficulties if we didn’t really understand and didn’t have people to guide us.

But we know something. We have a real key core competence. We know about vehicles. We know about training. We know about all those things. But we don’t have to say “well, we know and understand the culture we really understand everything about this”.

One of the things that we’ve had to be really careful about is what is culture and what is a bad habit? Do we think, for example, that female genital cutting is a cultural thing or is it really just a bad thing? You have to really think about “is there a conflict between ethics and what is thought to be culture?”

When we first started to train women health workers to ride motorcycles all the men said, “Oh, no, they can’t ride motorcycles.” And we said, “Well, actually, they can.” It turns out they can. You know, the traditional dress doesn’t actually make any difference. You put your over trousers and your boots and your helmet on and then you’ve got your traditional dress anyway. You’re not going to change what people do, but you are going to protect them from falling down.

Women’s status really rises with health workers. Once they ride a motorcycle their families respect them more. Their communities see them as much more important. They’re trained to a higher standard once they’re mobilized because they can do more. It has an effect on making a difference. Is that culture? I’ll leave that with you.

One of the things we do when we are working with the African government is to find somebody within the government who is going to be our coach. It’s usually a woman. My husband refers to her as “the woman with glasses.” They’re usually a person who is very experienced in the ministry. They’ve reached the glass ceiling but they know everybody and everything in the ministry. They really care about the rural communities. They understand and they’re really enthusiastic about the transport because they know it’s absolutely key.

If you’re going to reach those rural communities you’ve got to get there, so they end up being our coach: “You should see this person, I’m going to make you an appointment with that person”. They coach us through and then very quickly we have a local person, head of our program, who is the person who takes that over from us.

Francesca: Eighty percent of our work is in the water and sanitation sector. We work mostly in linking rural villages to piped water, digging wells and building latrines. We’ve done it for forty-four years. Forty percent of latrines are broken before the fourth year. Thirty percent of water taps are not utilized before the fourth year of life. That really gave us a push to challenge our work and we really think of another model. We really had to massively complement our traditional way of doing cooperation in international cooperation. We had to change our approach and our model and listen to people’s aspirations instead of pointing at their needs.

Eve: Andrea already mentioned, we have the same impact and the same results of the women and the families being more respected in the communities. The children are doing really well in school because we help pay for the school. They are also really proud of their parents. We do work with men and women.

When we go into a new country, we do not have anybody that’s ex-pat or whatever. It’s all locally managed. It’s everybody’s from that country.

Lulan has no feet on the ground, so to speak, in any of these countries. We do have one weaving center in Cambodia because I wanted to know the pain points that these groups actually go through. I think it’s really important to have one so I can say, “Oh my gosh, this flood did affect us. Oh my gosh, there’s this problem with the silk worm and so silk is twenty percent higher because of the silkworm disease that’s going on.” So I’m feeling their pain, I get it. I understand what they are up against. I think that’s really important. But beyond that, we do not have our feet on the ground so we don’t have to worry about the governments or not understanding the culture.

That said, when we need to get a well sometimes, I think it’s fascinating the differences in cultures. In Vietnam, this would not surprise you, if I walk into Vietnam and I go into the government and I say, “We want a well for the work we are doing with your people”, they say, “Yeah, get in line.” It’s better for a Vietnamese to go into the Vietnam government and get something done, something that we may need. In Cambodia that’s not true. In Cambodia if I walk into the office they actually make it happen really quick.

It’s fascinating to see the differences and to know the differences. Know that when you stick your head in something you’re going to make it worse or you’re going to make it better, and to really think about that. I really am thoughtful and I ask the people on the ground a lot of times, “when is that good and when is that bad?” And sometimes they know the answer and sometimes they don’t.

That’s when I go to my ex-pat friends that live there and I’ll say, “What has your experience been? How many years have you been here? What is your experience?” It’s almost like a guessing game in each country too. You’re not going to have the same experience everywhere. You’re not going to have the same. Here are my five ways of getting information, that may be the same, and you might go to the same points. It’s really important to keep that in mind.

Kristin: Let’s talk about those lessons that we’ve learned, because sometimes it doesn’t work and that’s how we learn. If you could share, because all of you, again, have a long experience internationally, those strategies, those approaches that just did not work and you were like, “Note to self.”

Obviously, the fact that you’re still here and doing this work, it’s all testimony to the fact that you’ve all overcome these things. But, it’s really helpful for those of us, you know we’re all still on the journey, to share how you were able to turn that mistake around. Please give a concrete example.

Eve: Mine’s really quick, but it’s going to break your heart. It broke my heart. So, in every group we tell them that we will educate their kids. We have an educational monthly amount for every child, so please tell us who your children are, tell us what school they go to and all that stuff so we can give you the money to help support children go to school. This one woman was there from the very beginning when we started with this cooperative. She heard this every six months. Just in case there’s new artisans that come and there’s new women, we want them to know and the family. This woman sat there for two years, hearing this four times.

She finally went up to my country manager, this happened in Cambodia, and said, “I have a daughter and I really want to have her you go to school but I just don’t think that you and Eve would think of wanting to educate her”. And the manager said, “well, how old is she?”, because at six is when children go to school. “Eight”. We’ve been telling her for two years and the child had lost two years of going to school.

The manager came to me and told me this story and I said “why didn’t she come to us? Why didn’t she come to us? What is, what are we doing wrong? This is terrible.” She thought that my culture would not think that an adopted child as if was her own child and that I would not educate her child. We were communicating and telling her that we would educate her child but she was looking at my culture, talk about cultural, it’s just a communication issue. She just thought that I wouldn’t think of the child the same. And we did educate that child. She is doing really great. But we lost two years.

Andrea: My story is much more about time. When we first went to the Gambia we came up with the operational model that we have. We put it in place. But what’s different about what Riders for Hope does is that we go to ministries of health to run their vehicles. Ministries of health vehicles or NGOs vehicles. When you go to a ministry of health they expect what we are offering them is an opportunity to use an outsource, to do a service provision and to have a way that’s not within the government. We thought that when we went to talk to them that this would be a quick conversation: they’d get it, they’d understand immediately why this was helpful. It took us fourteen years. Fourteen years. And just talking about a cross cultural issue.

I don’t know if anybody is an impact investor, but there’s some cross cultural issues with impact investing and social enterprise because people expect you to be able to give a return on your money very, very, very fast. When we put the program on the ground in the Gambia, from the moment we put the wheels on the ground to now, took four years. We borrowed money, not from an impact investor, by the way, from an African bank, and we paid the money back in exactly the time we said we would.

Took us fourteen years to get there. How long? You know you’ve got to think about what impact really means and just how long it takes to change things. To change thinking. To get people, you start a conversation at a very, very different point when you start working in other countries. We, by some sort of osmosis, understand all about money and about repayment and public / private partnerships and outsourcing and all those kinds of things. That’s not something that governments, certainly in Africa, maybe in other countries, I don’t know, but that’s not where the conversation can start, you have to start somewhere else. You have to expect it to take a lot more time than you hope it will.

Francesca: Timing for us was a challenge in changing the way we do our work. We are lots of people. We are six hundred people on the staff. And then it takes a real mind shift to change things it’s taking us longer than we thought to change the way we are doing things. We thought it was going to happen much faster. It’s taking us longer with a lot of effort.

More About SEWF

sewfThe Trico Charitable Foundation was honoured to host SEWF 2013. It made history in a number of ways – it was a first for Canada and attracted a record number of speakers and attendees (1,000 individuals from more than 30 countries and over 100 speakers from 20 countries) – but we are most proud of the quality of the discussions on Skills Building, Social Finance, Indigenous Social Enterprise, Collaboration, Policy and Research, and Social Innovation.

A special  thanks to Photos With Finesse by Suzan McEvoy for the pictures, BizBOXTV for producing the videos, and Employment and Social Development Canada for helping to make this post-event coverage possible.

We would also like to thank the following partners for making SEWF 2013 possible:

Organizing Partners:

Lead Sponsors:

Presenting Partners:

Supporting Partners:

Friends of SEWF:

Media Partners:

Each year SEWF gives a different host country an incredible opportunity to celebrate and nurture its own social enterprise movement. The inaugural SEWF met in Edinburgh, Scotland. Since then it has been to Melbourne, Australia; San Francisco, U.S.A; Johannesburg, Africa; and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Learn more about SEWF’s history here.

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