Only two months after wrapping up a successful 2016 AVPN Conference in Hong Kong, it’s hard to believe we are back at it — kicking off the planning for our 2017 Conference in Bangkok!
In 2016, after 3 years in Singapore, AVPN decided to ‘take the show on the road’ to Hong Kong and it was our biggest and best conference yet, bringing in more delegates and more members from Northern Asia than ever before. Through keynote speakers such as Bernard Chan, Chairperson of the Hong Kong Council of Social Service, and John Tsang, Financial Secretary of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, the conference highlighted some of the successes and opportunities in the Hong Kong social sector. Additionally, through our Investment Showcase and media outreach we were able to feature several impressive Hong Kong-based social enterprises—all of this spotlighting Hong Kong’s important contribution to the social sector in Asia.
In carrying on with the idea of expanding AVPN’s network across Asia, and showcasing the unique successes and opportunities of different countries across this diverse region, we have decided to focus on Southeast Asia for 2017 and are delighted to be hosting Asia’s now largest Social Investing Conference in Bangkok. Given the desire for a special focus on our host country the team felt it was important to provide a forum for our Thai members to share what is relevant to them and suggest content and formats that would be most productive for 2017.
To that end, the AVPN team visited Bangkok last week and hosted a gathering of members and friends at the beautiful offices of Thomson Reuters Foundation overlooking Lumphini Park. This intimate gathering was a great opportunity for the AVPN community to connect and share with one another, as is the case for so many of AVPN’s events. But, what made this event noteworthy was the energy and passion that filled the room when we began to talk about what our Thai members wish for the AVPN conference next May.
As a relative newcomer to AVPN, I was blown away by the level of interest this group had in helping to shape the social sector in Thailand, and the AVPN conference itself. Having spent the last decade in marketing for the luxury and consumer goods sectors, I warned my colleagues to keep the presentation short and let members mingle, drink and eat, since in my experience this was the draw at these kinds of gatherings. However, I was happily proved wrong when as we wrapped up our AVPN updates and encouraged our guests to enjoy themselves, no one made a break for the wine or snacks or private conversations, instead the entire group sat riveted as the real discussion began.
There wasn’t a quiet person at the table as this diverse and knowledgeable crowd shared their insights and hopes for Thailand and the social sector in general. From how to better prepare social entrepreneurs and engage corporates in strategic philanthropy, to multisector collaboration or industry-focused working groups on education, agriculture and tourism—the discussion was the highlight of the event.
I can say with confidence that everyone left the evening feeling energized and excited about the 2017 Conference with many ideas on how to contribute. The AVPN team and I are looking forward to many more riveting discussions in Bangkok and across the region in the coming months as we begin to map out the topics, formats and participants for next Spring.
For a sneak preview of our discussion see the audience-ranked conference topics below and let us know your thoughts. We would also love to hear from your organization if you have ideas to contribute to this early list…
Top Conference Suggestions:
1. How does Social Investment Reduce Poverty?
2. Women Social Entrepreneurs in Asia
3. Digital Transformation and the Use of Technology to Drive Impact
4. Impact Measurement – too early for Southeast Asia?
5. Capacity Building and the need for more Social Incubators
6. Social Innovation Project for the Disabled and Elderly
7. Energy Access and Renewable Energy
8. Moving from Philanthropy to Impact Investing