The Long Road To Mandalay (via Hong Kong) Part 3
We then took the Star Ferry from Kowloon over to Central and had a candlelight dinner in a trendy roof top restaurant – not sure how that went down with the better halves back home.
Angus, 26th September
Sun 25th Sep 2016
So after lunch a short walk to the venue for the SE World Forum, the Hong Kong Convention & Exhibition Centre. This was stunning modern building and despite our event having over 1000 delegates, we were only one of a number of large events taking place there that day.
The Opening Ceremony was a series of introductions to various officials, lots of speeches and loads of clapping. I was struck. There was a rich ethnic mixture of people at the event, and found out later that they came from some 30 countries.
Our tour party then proceeded by bus to an evening reception and meal held by the British Council. As we drove along I was struck by the sheer density of living, with high rise blocks built so close to adjacent blocks that I’m sure neighbours could reach out to each other and shake hands. The meal was at a fantastic older building (40 years old, which is very old in HK terms) that housed a restaurant that was predominantly staffed by older people. This restaurant was again trying to give older people a valued role and to demonstrate more widely, the great service that they can offer.
Mon 26th Sep 2016
Another night of disturbed sleep and then early start for the first full day of the World Forum. We travelled on the underground and although everyone was very polite and orderly, the way folk were packed on was quite unnerving.
The SEWF is an international event for social enterprises all over the world, which allows them to come together, discuss policy, to learn from one another and share practice. The initial SEWF was held in Edinburgh in 2008 and has subsequently been hosted in different cities across the world and returns to Edinburgh in 2018.
We were straight into a wide variety of lectures, workshops and plenaries. It would be impossible to do justice to the range and variety of information on the ways that SE is changing lives across the planet – so thought it would be best to give a few observations or key messages that I picked up:
‘Social Enterprise is not a noun, it is a verb’ – i.e. It is a way of doing things. Despite the varying world wide interpretations of organisational structures or legal obligations that are associated with social enterprise, all shared the common belief that it is fantastic way of creating social and environmental impact. (However Kate you will still need an asset lock to join DSEN)
That afternoon Derek and myself decided to take a wee bit of time out, as the schedule and jet lag were really beginning to take its toll.
On our taxi journey back to the hotel I asked the driver about his views on where HK was at. He said that he appreciated things would be different when China took back the territory, but that he felt the influx of Chinese investment and people had for him adversely changed his way of life. We then took the Star Ferry from Kowloon over to Central and had a candlelight dinner in a trendy roof top restaurant – not sure how that went down with the better halves back home.
Tues 27th Sep
Day 3 of the SEWF and again a packed agenda, which included a wonderful presentation by Prof Kee from the HK Baptist University. In his 15 min presentation he packed in a stupefying amount of information/data, including some 30 slides with graphs, pie charts and statistics tables. He gave some insightful observations, including, that a customer will only buy once from a social enterprise – if the quality is not good. He also mentioned that inefficient SEs needed to “be eliminated” – as a SE development officer I winced at that thought of culling such organisations. He also highlighted that HK ranked 6th in the world wealth tables, but only 76th in the world happiness index – As he said “something is going wrong”. Money can’t buy you happiness ???
One other highlight from the Forum (out of many) was the presentation by Eriko Yamuguchi who was an accomplished designer who went to live and work in Bangladesh. She took people that had been hitherto working in really poor conditions and created the Motherhouse SE. She then worked closely with them to design and produce a range of clothing and accessories that used iconic local materials (mainly Jute). She replicated this model working in other neighbouring countries (utilising their key local materials) and now sells the products in high end stores in Tokyo, with further outlets planned for other top cities. Fantastic improvements to people’s everyday lives and facilitated via high quality enterprising.
We then returned to the hotel and left on the journey out to the airport for our flight to Myanmar. On the trip I checked my rucksack for my passport – not there – definitely would be in my suitcase – surely? When we got to HK airport I opened the case and started to hurriedly search for the passport, in full view of people waiting at check in. I couldn’t see it and felt the panic starting to rise, my mind racing to doomsday scenarios, whilst people looked away rather than watching a grown man in melt down. Fortunately an Australian guardian angel Anne appeared, calmed me down and found the missing passport within seconds – instant relief, but not quite the final moments I had expected in Hong Kong., but at least I would be able to move on to the next exciting part of the tour.
Till the next blog!
See part four HERE!
Important: Opinions expressed by bloggers are their own and don’t represent those of the Dundee Social Enterprise Network organisation,