About GEF 2015

The Global entrepreneurship forum : “Innovation In Social Enterprise”


The Global Entrepreneurship Forum (GEF) is an annual event that gathers international leaders in business and entrepreneurship in one location for the purpose of sharing insights, exchanging best practices, and generating exposure for the latest trends and innovations in the global community of entrepreneurs. The Centennial Fund (TCF) launched this initiative in 2011 as an extension of the annual HRH Prince Abdulaziz bin Abdullah International Award for Entrepreneurship.

The theme of this year’s forum is Innovation in Social Enterprise, as the GEF explores the viability of solving a variety of social issues, both locally and globally, through the vehicle of entrepreneurship.

In contrast to typical entrepreneurs who focus primarily upon their financial bottom line, social entrepreneurs take a wider world view into account and focus on a triple bottom line (TBL) of planet, people, and profits. The principles of social enterprise can thus be applied to organizations of varying sizes and structures. As a result of this broader societal focus, social enterprise is often associated with charities, non-profits, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs), though the impact of social enterprise extends far beyond these sectors.

In an effort to guide social entrepreneurs towards achieving this TBL success, Nobel Prize winner and founder of Grameen Bank Professor Muhammad Yunus has established what he calls the Seven Principles of Social Enterprise:

  • The business’s objective will be to overcome poverty, or one or more problems (such as education, health, technology access, and environment) which threaten people and society, not profit maximization.
  • Companies should focus on both financial and economic sustainability
  • Investors are repaid only the amount of their capital investment. No additional dividend is paid out to investors.
  • After debt financing has been repaid, the company should retain its profits in order to reinvest in expansion and improvement projects.
  • Work environments should be gender-sensitive and environmentally conscious.
  • Employees should be paid the market wage while enjoying better working conditions
  • ...Do it with joy

Who are Social Entrepreneurs?

Social entrepreneurs are people who pursue innovative ideas with the potential to solve community problems. These individuals are willing to take on the risk and effort to create positive changes in society through their initiatives, and as such, they pave avenues of opportunity for those who would, otherwise, be locked into lives without hope. Social entrepreneurs are society’s change agents, creators of innovations that disrupt the status quo and transform our world.

Examples of social entrepreneurship include microfinance institutions, educational programs, providing banking services in underserved areas and helping children orphaned by epidemic disease. The main goal of a social entrepreneur is not to earn a profit, but to implement widespread improvements in society. However, a social entrepreneur must still be financially savvy to succeed in his or her cause.


  • Ambitious: Social entrepreneurs tackle major social issues, from increasing the college enrollment rate of low-income students to fighting poverty. They operate in all kinds of organizations: innovative nonprofits, social-purpose ventures, and hybrid organizations that mix elements of nonprofit and for-profit organizations.
  • Mission driven: Generating social value —not wealth—is the central criterion of a successful social entrepreneur. While wealth creation may be part of the process, it is not an end in itself. Promoting systemic social change is the real objective.
  • Strategic: Like business entrepreneurs, social entrepreneurs see and act upon what others miss: opportunities to improve systems, create solutions and invent new approaches that create social value. And like the best business entrepreneurs, social entrepreneurs are intensely focused and hard-driving in their pursuit of a social vision.
  • Resourceful: Because social entrepreneurs operate within a social context rather than the business world, they have limited access to capital and traditional market support systems. As a result, social entrepreneurs must be skilled at mobilizing human, financial and political resources.
  • Results oriented: Social entrepreneurs are driven to produce measurable returns. These results transform existing realities, open up new pathways for the marginalized and disadvantaged, and unlock society’s potential to effect social change.

Why has the Global Entrepreneurship Forum chosen “Innovation in Social Enterprise” as this year’s theme?

The idea of “social entrepreneurship” has struck a responsive chord. It is a phrase well suited to our times. It combines the passion of a social mission with an image of business-like discipline, innovation, and determination commonly associated with, for instance, the high-tech pioneers of Silicon Valley. The time is certainly ripe for entrepreneurial approaches to social problems. Many governmental and philanthropic efforts have fallen far short of our expectations. Major social sector institutions are often viewed as inefficient, ineffective, and unresponsive. Social entrepreneurs are needed to develop new models for a new century.

This acknowledgement underscores the rationale for dedicating this year’s event to social enterprise, with an emphasis on innovation.

The goals of this year’s Forum are to:

  • Increase domestic awareness about social enterprise
  • Create an opportunity to exchange best practices in establishing a social enterprise
  • Draft a strategy to increase the number of successful social enterprises in Saudi Arabia
  • Deliver a workshop entitled: How to Start a Social Enterprise.


In order to generate interest in and awareness of the potential impact of social enterprise, we have invited a number of successful social entrepreneurs from around the world to share their inspiring stories. In general, the Forum will have the following format

  • The two-day Forum, spread over four sessions, will include open lectures and a panel discussion. The second day will be highlighted by a specialized workshop entitled: How to Start a Social Enterprise.

Who should attend?

The Forum will appeal to an eclectic audience from diverse professional and educational backgrounds. Anyone interested in creating a business with a social mission will find inspiration in this year’s Forum.


Session One:


This session will highlight international experiences in social enterprise, paying special attention to some of the major characteristics of social entrepreneurs who are pioneers in the field today. Panelists will discuss the best practices in establishing and managing successful social enterprises, along with the latest international trends in social entrepreneurship.

Several international experts in social entrepreneurship will participate in this panel, sharing their experiences in places.

The outcomes of this session will be exchanged expert knowledge of successful social enterprise and examples for local implemention.


Session Two:


This session will explore opportunities for social enterprise to influence private sector organizations to play a more significant role in the prosperity and well-being of our societies. Several key topics will be discussed during this session, including the establishment of initiatives and social entrepreneurship in education, health, and housing. The emphasis will go beyond the superficial CSR initiatives that are now en vogue. The session will include several industrial and business leaders.

The outcomes of this session will be recommendations for private sector business leaders to adopt the best social enterprise practices in their organizational action plans.


Session Three:


This session will clarify the responsibility of government to support social enterprise. High ranking government officials, including several ministers, will expound the government’s position with respect to the development of a domestic eco-system of social enterprise.

The outcomes of this session will be recommendations for government leaders to adopt policy changes that and initiatives that support the development of a domestic eco-system of social enterprise.


Session Four:

“SOCIAL ENTERPRISE AND LEADERSHIP” – an interview with Dr Mahathir Mohamed

Dr. Mahathir Mohamed, the former Malaysian Prime Minister, was a dominant political figure, winning five consecutive general elections in Malaysia. During this session, Dr. Mahathir will provide insights to the remarkable strategy he employed to lead his country to significant economic expansion – an 8% increase over 8 years – that doubled his nation’s per capita income over the same period.