Become Charlie at a Sustainable Chocolate Factory

As the countdown towards Social Enterprise World Forum 2017 continues we’re excited to let you know about the plethora of excellent activities to engage in before the Forum. 

To give you a better understanding of the Christchurch social enterprise sector, we offer you the opportunity to join us for tours of local social enterprises to experience their work first-hand, in the two days preceding the forum (September 25th and 26th). Click here to read more about the local tours.

New Speakers Confirmed

Along with great pre-forum events, the forum itself it getting better and better. We’re pleased to announce our new speakers. Each of them have valuable experience in the world of social enterprise and are looking forward to networking with you and passing on their pearls of wisdom.

Speaker Feature: Geoff White, CEO of Trade Aid Importers Ltd

In a Social Enterprise World Forum 2017 first, here’s a feature on one of our speakers. Geoff White is the CEO of Trade Aid Importers Ltd, New Zealand’s largest and oldest fair trade company. We asked Geoff a few questions so you can get to know him better.

Q: Tell us a bit about your background? 

A: On leaving school, I attended Teachers Training College but did not complete the course after realising a big part of the role involved working with children all day. My first “real job” was working for a sports wholesaler where I progressed from the warehouse to sales and ultimately to South Island Manager. I left to establish Seventh Wave, a wetsuit manufacturing business with wholesale and direct retail distribution. During this period I become involved with, and ultimately chaired, a Trade and Industry export initiative for the outdoor industry. As a result, I became very interested in international trade issues and specifically the impact of trade rules on developing country economies. After 14 years I sold out to my business partner and after a short period took up employment at Trade Aid, a move that aligned my personal values with my day to day work. I am currently CEO of Trade Aid Importers, Vice President of the World Fair Trade Organisation representing 400 fair trade organisations from around the world and Board Director of New Internationalist NZ, part of a global independent news magazine uncovering the relationship between the powerful and the people they exploit everywhere on earth.

Q: What is your personal take on this year's Forum theme ('Creating our tomorrow') and what contribution will you make?

A:  I really like the theme “Creating our Tomorrow”. I believe there is a growing understanding that business is not divorced from society and the environment in which it operates and that the current exploitive model is fast reaching its use by date. Around the world there is a vacuum of discussion on alternative models and as a result we are witnessing nationalism and isolationism filling that space. The Forum gives us an opportunity to have a discussion on what tomorrow could look like and to present a social enterprise business model as a viable way of creating that tomorrow. I will be contributing the experience and knowledge Trade Aid has gained over 43 years as a successful social enterprise operating as fair trade business. I will be sharing our story, the development of the organisation, our successes and failures, the checks and balances we have in place to ensure we maintain our social objectives, how we measure success and what we see as our future.   

Q: What are your hopes for Social Enterprise World Forum 2017?

A: I hope first and foremost it is a place to meet new people, to learn from them, to share with them and to gain encouragement and energy from each other. Second, that it is a forum for learning about the development and growth of successful social enterprises in New Zealand and the wider world. Third, the forum is a catalyst for the growth of social enterprise in New Zealand. Fourth, that it is an opportunity to engage in public discussions on alternative business models that will help build a better world.

To see our speakers, click here and be sure to keep checking back here for future speaker features.