What Is The Social Economy ?

The Social Economy

The social and solidarity economy refers to economic activities that are independent of the governemnent without being of the private sector.. Although they are financially viable, they do not aim to maximize profits but rather improve their communities’ or their members’ well-being.

The organizers of GSEF2016 understand that these practices are referred to differently in different countries (buen vivir, community wealth building, etc.), and wish to facilitate dialogue on the best practices of enterprises that worki above all for the interests of their communities, regardless of the terms used to describe them.

In Québec, the social economy is defined as followed by the framework legislation adopted in 2013:

  • the purpose of the enterprise is to meet the needs of its members or the community and is not just centred on monetary profit;
  • it is managed independently of the State;
  • it integrates into its by-laws and regulations a democratic decision-making process that involves users and workers;
  • it prioritizes individuals and labour over capital in the distribution of surpluses and revenues;
  • it bases its operations on principles of participation, empowerment, and individual and collective responsibility.

Dialogue and Partnership with Local Government

One of the challenges faced by the social and solidarity economy is the difficulty for government agencies, which tend to work in silo, to recognize and support the extensive economic, social, cultural, and environmental impact of individual initiatives and to adequately take into account  the multiple social innovations they generate.

For this reason, dialogue and collaboration with local governmental bodies is vital: not only does it enable the growth of the social economy, it also benefits the governments concerned because it improves the impact of public measures and enables the development of effective and oftentimes innovative initiatives to answer community needs.