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CQU social entrepreneurs showcasing big impact at Social Enterprise World Forum

Published:06 September 2022

A composite image of four people.

SEWF participants (clockwise from top left) Steve Williams, Jasmine Healy-Pagán, A/Prof Olav Muurlink, and Ricky Esterquest.

CQUniversity students, alumni and leaders will be taking their social impact global with this month’s Social Enterprise World Forum (SEWF), while driving holistic wellbeing for the changemaking event.

The international event is being held in Brisbane from 28 to 29 September, where more than 100 presenters and 1500 participants will gather to explore and grow social entrepreneurship.

CQUniversity’s Office of Social Innovation will host a stall at the event, and Program Manager Steve Williams is looking forward to growing CQU’s connections in the exciting and expanding sector.

“This is the first time CQUniversity will attend the Social Enterprise World Forum, and we’re attending as Australia’s first social enterprise university, certified by Social Traders,” Mr Williams said.

“It’s a huge opportunity to showcase not only CQU’s services as a social enterprise, but also the vital work we’re doing in training a new generation of social entrepreneurs, and socially innovative young people.

“It’s also very exciting to be attending alongside CQUniversity students, alumni and partner organisations, and to see many of them promoting their own social enterprises that they’ve developed with CQU support.”

CQUniversity was certified as Australia’s first social enterprise university earlier this year, and since 2015 has inspired and supported thousands of students, staff and stakeholders to drive social innovation and social enterprise in their careers and communities.

Mr Williams, who also runs yoga and mindfulness social enterprise Mind Flow Grow, will also be guiding meditation for SEWF, so attendees can recharge and rejuvenate at the busy event.

“It’s a credit to the leadership of the Social Enterprise World Forum and the Australian event lead White Box Enterprises that they have included self-care and wellbeing in the program,” Mr Williams said.

CQUniversity will also feature in the Social Enterprise Academic Symposium on 27 September, at the QUT Gardens Point Campus and hosted by the Australian University Social Enterprise Alliance.

For the session, titled Co-creating the future, CQU’s Associate Professor Olav Muurlink will chair the Social Innovation and Social Enterprise – Teaching and Practice stream, alongside co-chairs Associate Professor Bert Verhoeven from Flinders University, Dr Greg Harper from Torrens University, Dr Judy Beausang, from QUT and Mr Williams.

An experienced entrepreneur and changemaker, Assoc Prof Muurlink said he was looking forward to sharing his insights from CQU and beyond.

“Hitching social change to the engine of commerce is really what social enterprise is about and the need for change is probably more acute now than ever,” he said.

“Teaching social enterprise can be particularly tricky as the target audience are people itching to get their hands dirty in the real world—so you have to design curriculum that is hyper engaging, practical, action based.”

The symposium aims to engage academics, educators, students, scholar-practitioners, policymakers and those working with or in social enterprise in conversations that are ambitious, curious and optimistic.

Also among CQU attendees will be members of the iActivate Townsville cohort; social entrepreneurs who have graduated from CQU’s innovative social enterprise design course.

They include Youth RESET founder Jasmine Healy-Pagán, owner of Parentmedic North Qld Loretta Woodford, and Towards Better founder Ricky Esterquest.

CQU Cairns student and enthusiastic Social Innovation Network member Shane Cuthbert is also excited to attend, after being awarded a Rural & Remote Bursary donated by Hand Heart Pocket.

CQU Brisbane is also sponsoring local students to attend the SEWF Youth Forum on Tuesday 27 September, with applications still open here.

SEWF is the flagship event for the global social enterprise community, providing space for purpose-led people, policymakers, philanthropists, intermediaries and entrepreneurs to connect, learn and be inspired.

SEWF events have brought together thousands of people from around the world to build the community, capacity and capability within the social enterprise sector.

The Brisbane event features headline speakers including Paralympian, human rights advocate and Australian of the Year Dylan Alcott AO, ThankYou co-founder Daniel Flynn, and Clothing the Gap CEO and founder Laura Thompson.

SEWF Managing Director and Founder Gerry Higgins said that 2022 marks the first year SEWF will be held in-person since the pandemic began.

“This will have a positive impact as the social enterprise sector has been central to COVID-19 response efforts worldwide … the stories will be richer and convening will be more inclusive,” he said.