WildHearts Group is a portfolio of companies that, through their activities and profits, create global social change. In 2017 WildHearts set an ambitious goal: to transform one million lives by the end of 2020. On March 26th we achieved that goal. One year and nine months ahead of schedule.
A key strand of this impact has been achieved through our StartHer in Health initiative. The programme manufactures and distributes safe, reusable sanitary pads for girls, helping to keep them in school.
The Social Enterprise World Forum was a timely opportunity for us to share our experience of this significant growth and connect with other Social Entrepreneurs.
Dr Mick Jackson, WildHearts Founder and CEO joined the ‘Best Practice in Corporate Engagement with Social Enterprise’ panel alongside; SAP, Vodacom and Reach for Change, to share WildHearts experience of building successful corporate partnerships. Medha Wilson, WildHearts’ Global Head of Microfinance, joined a panel for the animated discussion on the ‘The Changing Face of Social Investment’. Morven Cameron, from our Project Development team, also joined a panel to discuss WildHearts impact in empowering women and girls through our StartHer Strategy. All three panels provoked dynamic Q&A sessions with the audience.
The frequent networking opportunities at the forum were hugely valuable. The WildHearts Team’s most significant connections and collaborations were formed beyond the panel sessions. The lunchtime networking, social enterprise stands and in particular, the corporate presence during the breaks, enabled WildHearts to reiterate our credible global impact to our partners including Johnson & Johnson and SAP.
Whilst WildHearts continues to expand its Business for Good vision, the conversations throughout the summit provided an opportunity to reflect on our achievements so far.
Some of the key learnings and opportunities we took back to the UK:
A key focus of the conference was the role of Social Enterprise in driving the fight for gender equality.
Throughout the discussion it became clear that the recurring obstacle both delegates and panellists faced whilst trying to implement female-focused initiatives, were cultural barriers. It was agreed that social, tribal and religious influences within each country presented unique challenges and there is no one size fits all solution.
In light of this, the panel acknowledged that it is the responsibility of all social enterprises and NGOs operating around the world to share knowledge and best practice on how to approach these often ‘taboo’ topics. Dialogue between organisations working towards the same mission needs to be improved. Summits like the SEWF are valuable platforms for collaboration. During the event we met other organisations working in this sector and swapped advice on fabric suppliers, distribution techniques and menstrual health education programmes.
Opportunities for Collaboration
Following each of WildHearts panel sessions the team were approached by delegates and other speakers with ideas and potential opportunities for collaboration. There was particular interest in WildHearts StartHer in Health initiative. As a result, we have connected with other organisations working in this space. It was also suggested that due to the ethical production the pads, StartHer could apply for a partnership with Fairtrade.
Concluding Thoughts from Across the Sessions
The strong diversity in social enterprises, not only in the UK but across the globe, demonstrates the sector is well placed to tackle some of the world’s biggest challenges. However, to be taken seriously, we must be able to compete with for profit entities; delivering quality products and services whilst leading social and environmental innovation in our industries.
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