Seoul forum shows how social business can cut poverty

Nov 6, 2013


Korean and international policy-makers and social innovators discussed how socially oriented business can help cut poverty at a major international conference in Seoul today.

‘Social enterprises’ use commercial strategies to boost improvements in human and environmental well-being, as well as making a profit.

Nicolas Kroger, Head of UNDP’s Poverty Reduction and Environment Unit in Timor-Leste, explained UNDP’s support to social enterprise in Timor Leste:

‘UNDP, with support from the Korean Government, is promoting social business to help Timor-Leste meet the Millennium Development Goals. To date, 300 women, men and young people have got back into employment and 200 now benefit from service provision’ he said.

‘Our joint work has also led to the creation of a new national coordination platform between the government and the private sector’. 

The UNDP Timor Leste project also supports existing social businesses with business, marketing and technical advice. 

The session on social enterprise for poverty reduction was one of many that made up the two day ‘Global Social Economy Forum 2013,’ held at Seoul’s city hall.

Participants from Korea and 30 other countries shared local government led urban innovations, worked to build partnerships for social business and shared knowledge and experience.

’It is time for the international community to move beyond growth and dream the dream of happiness for all. That means promoting the value of cooperation rather than competition and enhancing development with the aim of meeting societal challenges’ said Mayor of Seoul Park Won soon in a welcoming statement.

This forum represents a valuable opportunity to strengthen mutual cooperation and international solidarity on social economy issues’ he added.

Artemy Izmestiev, Policy Specialist at the UNDP Seoul Policy Centre, gave an overview of UNDP’s global work and the aims of the Seoul Centre.

We recognise the dynamism and innovation the private sector brings to development. Globally, and in a range of countries, we have many new initiatives to boost inclusive employment and social partnerships’ he said.

Citing projects in Uzbekistan, he explained how UNDP, the Government and civil society partnerships are helping victims of trafficking, single mothers and other marginalized groups get back to work.

He also called for more partnerships with the Korean and international private sector.