Category Archives: News

Eurocat: Interest-free money to finance Catalan small businesses

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This event took place on 04th April 2014 at PIMEC, Barcelona with the aim to present Euro-cat, a new complementary currency which will start working in June all over Catalonia (Spain).

The first speaker who appears after welcome greetings was Ernest Maragall, Vice president of the Fundació Catalunya Europa, who gave the presentation titled “Money and bank: cause or effect of the crisis?”. He started by mentioning that the productivity growth in the US in the last 20 years doesn’t correspond to the median family income, showing that employees in Spain are less paid than European average in terms of the compensation and in the US the percentage of top 10%’s income has increase from 35% to 50% between 1982 to 2007.  He argued that the concentration of the wealth created the bubble and therefore the crisis, criticising the cowardness, spider web effect and the lack of regulation.  He also presented that Germany improved its commercial balance while Spain worsened it after euro was introduced and finished by underlying the importance of regulations and institutions.

The second speaker was Marcel Coderch i Collell, former vice president of the CMT and an Eurocat promoter, who told about “What is money? Where does it come from?”. He started by quoting the phrase of Mayer Amschel Rothschild, founder of the Rotschild family: “Let me issue and control a nation’s money and I care not who writes the laws” and that of Henry Ford: “It is well enough that people of the nation do not understand our banking and money system, for if they did, I believe there would be a revolution before tomorrow morning,” implying the currenet system’s unfairness. His presentation was based on the two books: “Where does money come from?” and “Modern Money Theory,” said that the Bank of England has just published two reports, i.e.: “Money in the modern economy: an introduction” and “Money creation in the modern economy” in which it admitted that most money is created as debt, accentuating also the fact that the commercial banks decide which projects will be financed and criticising the current trend to insist on slashing government debts.

Then followed Jordi Griera Roig, co-founder of the Instituto de la Moneda Social (Social Currency Institute) and president of the Fundación INEVAL, which showed the words of Joan Casals (1925-1998), co-founder of PIMEC and former president of Ecoval, as he foresaw that the fiscal separation between the North and South of Europe would churn out unbearable tensions into the Euro due to the diference in productivity, just as what has happened.  He also told that neither the European Central Bank nor the Bank of England has the goal to make monetary policies serve to reduce unemployment while the Federal Reserve in the US does have it as main goal and therefore US has decreased the unemployment while Europe has increased it.

After the pause came Bernard Lietaer, global expert on social and complementary currencies based in Brussels (Belgium), who gave his lecture titled “Economic Crisis and Regional Initiatives”. He started by summarising the contents of his book “The Future of Money” and addressed the current four challenges of “Aging wave“, “IT revolution“, “Climate change and destruction of biodiversity” and “monetary unstability.” He highlighted the importance to balance between the efficiency and resilience (diversity) in the ecosystem, applying this idea also to the monetary system, proving that the financial system is structurally unstable with the excessive number of crises which have taken place in the last few decades in the world.  He presented the case of WIRBank (the Switzerland) which works to balance small businesses (trades in WIR increase when the Swiss Franc economy stagnates and vice versa) and finished by comparing the patriarchal societies of competitive economy with the single currency with matrifocal socieities of cooperative economy with parallel currencies.

And finally, the new Catalan currency Euro-Cat was presented by Susana Martín Belmonte, author of the book “Nada está perdido(Nothing is lost)” and an Euro-cat promoter, and Fèlix Simon Paraiso, president of the Plataforma Vegueria Penedès and an Euro-cat promoter. Each business which enters the system will have a credit line and the balance increases and decreases as it sells and buys.  Individuals are also welcome to join the system and will change euro into Euro-cat to spend it at local businesses.  The fundamental difference between loans in euro and credit lines in Euro-cat is that the former ones need to be repaid in euro while the credit line can be settled by offering equivalent goods and/or services.  Although Euro-cat will work all over Catalonia, eight territorial networks will be set up to strengthen regional economic activities.  Founding members are accepted up to 04th May and then a work will be done to reach the consensus on the definition among these participants about different aspects before the official launching, plannedfor June.

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Commemorative Congress on the 10th anniversary of Chiemgauer (Upper Bavaria, Germany)

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A congress in commemoration for the 10th anniversary of Chiemgauer took place from 03rd to 05th May 2013 and at Traunstein, Upper Bavaria, Germany. Some 200 people joined from different parts of Germany, Austria, France, Hungary, Italy, Japan, Spain (me) and the Switzerland to discuss on complementary currencies.

Chiemgauer started in January 2003 as an initiative at a Waldorf school (a private school under its own educational guideline proposed by the anthroposopher Rudolf Steiner) and is an euro-backed currency. Each one chooses a social or environmental project on becoming a member, exchanges euro into this regional currency in parity (100 € > 100 Chiemgauer), pays at local businesses which accept Chiemgauer and 3% of his/her expenditure goes to this social or environmental project. Businesses can spend it at other local businesses or redeem euro with 5% of commission (100 Chiemgauer > 95 €) and the non-profit Chiemgauer pays its administration costs with the rest of 2€. This regional currency works at two counties (Landkreise) of Rosenheim and Traunstein, on top of the Rosenheim City which is out of the homonymous county, and 651 local businesses and 262 projects join this system, with 703,332 Chiemgauer in circulation (as of May 2013). Its statistics say that in 2012 there were 2,573 consumers, the member businesses’ annual turnover is 6,452,279 Chiemgauers, e55,934 € was donated to social projects and this social currency circulates 11.22 times per year, in other words 2.78 times quicker than euro, stimulating the regional economy.

The congress started with the presentation by Christian Gelleri, Chiemgauer’s founded, titled as “Chancen und Grenzen” (Chances and Limits). He made clear that by using this complementary currency members want to “determine democratically about the money”, “give money its homeland”, “keep money in circulation” and “money to promote dialogue and actions”, with the aim to achieve the “consciousness on the money and the economy”, “as much value creation as possible as far as they correspond to our needs and the Mother Nature allows us” and “as much donation as possible to the culture, to the education and to the art”. He showed the message by the Horst Köhler, former President of the Federal Republic of Germany, who evaluates positively Chiemgauer, as “such regional currencies allow people to see the money system as something significant of our social environment and of our homeland”, and this former head of German state underlines too the fact that people learn the origin of money and that the environmental and social sustainability should be much more easily visualized. Then he pointed out seven limits and seven chances.

Limits

• Emotionality of money (people’s fear to touch the money issue)
• Mist on the money (the lack of understanding on its true function)
• Bureaucracy and old laws
• Gap between theory and practice
• Critical mass
• Power and resources
• Infulence of the huge system (euro etc.) on the small ones

Chances

• De-emotionalisation of the money
• Demands, as customers rule
• Use of Chiemgauer “All the members live Chiemgauer”
• Partial payment of salary in regional currency
• Synchronisation of the donation with regional currencies
• Creative management of the regional currency
• Introduction of Chiemgauer in crisis-hit regions

The Day 2 (Sat, 04th May) started with the keynote speech by Dr. Prof. Margrit Kennedy, author of important books on the money, such as “Inflation and Interest-free Money”, “People Money” and “Occupy Money”. Her presentation, titled as “Euro and Chiemgauer: An almost objective comparison between two different brothers”, began with showing five unsustainable aspects of our current money system, i.e.:

• It creates economic booms and busts
• It churns out short-term-minded thoughts
• It requieres endless growth
• It concentrates the wealth
• It smashes the social capital

And then she showed six solutions for the current crisis on the basis of recently published books.

1. Canncellation of debts (such as Jubilee), by US professors Michael Hudson and David Graeber
2. Abolition of euro and restoration of money sovereignty for each Eurozone country (Prof. Joachim Starbatty)
3. Chicago Plan and “Full Money” (by International Monetary Fund and many others): to allow financial institutions to give new credits only when they have the same amount of cash reserve.
4. Complementary currencies in permanent circulation in harmony with the environment (Charles Eisenstein)
5. How can we set ourselves free from our understanding on the property and money and, among others interest (Christian Kreiß)
6. The introduction of complementary currencies can solve social, ecological and cultural issues without new taxes nor laws (Bernard Lietaer, Christian Arnspenger, Stefan Brunnhuber and Sara Goerner)

Another important fact illustrated by this professor is that, had the Article 25 of the French Law of 03rd January 1973 on the Banque de France not been put into effect, the French government would have saved 1.306 trillion euros for interest payment and that the percentage of public debt in France would be ony 8.3% of its GDP, on top of another graphic to show the correlation between the exponential growth of goods and debts in the public sector, private businesses and individuals.

Dr. Prof. Kennedy highlighted the importance to implement complementary currencies at different levels (local / regional / national / international / global) and for different goals (timebanks for the elderly care, health currency, educational currency and energy currency), telling the experiences of WIRBank (Switzerland), RES (Belgium and Catalonia (Spain)), social currency at Gent (Belgium) to help immigrants cultivate urban farms and that of Zurich (the Switzerland) for a farmers’ cooperative. She also explained the difference between the demurrage currency (a family with 6,000 € of cash at hand loses 300 € per year) and the inflation (a family with 200,000 € of saving loses 10,000 € per year in case of 5% of inflation) and she proposed the application of the Chiemgauer model to implement a national currency in countries such as Greece and Spain on the basis of euro reserve (see here the proposal) . And she concluded by showing the difference between complementary and conventional currencies:

Complementary currency / Conventional currency

  • Generates (social) utillities / Generates (monetary) profits
  • Limited use / Universal usl
  • Charges fees / Charges interests
  • Transparent creation / Not transparent creation
  • Strengthens communities / Weakens communities
  • Softens inflations / Stimulates inflations
  • Backed with services / Backed with properties
  • Benefits for everybody / Benefits for 10% of the population

Then four parallel workshops took place, i.e.: “Regional Currencies and Banks”, “Post-Growth Economy”, “Chiemgauer for Beginners” and “the Miracle of Wörgl”. I was at the Post-Growth Economy where Nico Paech, from Ossietzky Oldenburg university, criticised the general view on the Green economy which optimistically thinks that technological innovations will solve all environmental and economic issues, questioning the conventional paradigm of the obligation to the growth and suggesting the post-growth economy as that of sufficiency, subsistence, regional economy, “new” production and institutions. He also showed the fact that the need to work more hours diminished the time available for consumption (Why do you work more and earn more if you have no time to spend?) and proposed the transition from large production chains (global and commercial economy) to the subsistence (local and non-commercial economy) and to prosumers’ economy.

In the afternoon eight workshop took place, four just after the lunch and other four subsequently. The first four were titled: “Regional currency and tourism”, “The euro crisis”, “Diversity of money instead of monoculture” and “Chiemgauer for the advanced”. I was at the diversity session where Mr. Franz Jansky mapped different initiatives in Germany and some neighbouring counties (Austria, Luxembourg, Netherlands and the Switzerland). An interesting tendency was observed that in the former East Germany, impoverished regions where many Neonazis emerge, the non-euro-backed model is prevailing, perhaps due to the lack of euro while in Upper Bavaria, another affluent region with many experiences, the regional currencies tend to be backed with euro. He also warned that an adequate language should be used to avoid the misunderstanding that complementary currencies have racist goals in regions with many Neonazis.

And later other four sessions took place: “regional currency and communities”, “regional currency as a social innovation tool”, “rethink the economy for a new economic culture in businesses and society” and “Momo, Faust and Co., Vision of a better money in arts and literature”. I was at the session of social innovation where Dr. Prof. Margrit Kennedy answered different questions in this respect, such as: the crisis can stimulate the promotion of social currencies (ex.: Barter clubs in Argentina), the social bond is needed to create the trust to the social currency, it is necessary to involve appropriate stakeholders to promote social currencies and that it’s necessary to learn from experiences in other countries (Brazil, Japan and New Zealand), among others.

The conference finished with another presentation by Niko Paech which talked once again on the Post-Growth economy. He explained that the current consumerist society, based on the looting of natural resources, is unsustainable due to the time limit (today I own and later I’ll pay), to the physical limit (such an economy is possibly only because of energy waste) and to the space limit (global production chain). He underscored the importance of sufficiency (the sustainability deficit without welfare trigger impoverishment) and of subsistence (environmental damage by the external supply cannot be eliminated by its own systemic logic). He explained the obligation to grow from the supply’s viewpoint (the necessary amount of surplus increases as the specialised production chain is advanced) and from the demand’s one (the idea of freedom is quite closely related with the permanent increase of material realisation) and he showed proposals for both aspects (for the supply setup of cooperatives, monetary reform and reduction of the financial need and for the demand: soften or turn off the driver for consumption).

A very interesting fact that I’d like to highlight is the strong regional identity which seemed to have a lot to do with complementary currencies in my opinion: at Upper Bavaria (especially at the Alpine region between Munich and Salzburg) people are really attached to their land and some hotels and restaurants have employees in traditional costume. It’s true that the natural beauty if this region is impressive and it’s quite natural that locals should be proud of their land. In Spain where I currently live, Catalonia and Euskadi (“Bask Country”) have more social currencies than others, perhaps also due to people’s strong identity with the land, although culturally these places are different (Bavarians are very conservative while Catalans and Basques tend to be innovative, in my opinion).

It might be true that the identity plays an even more important role than people’s orientation for social innovation in terms of the implementation of complementary currencies: In Germany Berlin is known to be the place with many people into alternatives, but there complementary currencies don’t work because of the lack of local identity. I thought that people’s political tendency had a lot to do with the success of complementary currencies, but it seems like the local identity is more important…

Asia Solidarity Economy Forum 2012 at Manado, Indonesia

The Asian Solidarity Economy Forum 2012 took place from Mon, 01st to Wed, 03rd October at International Business Administration (IBA), Sam Ratulangi University, Manado, Northern Sulawesi, Indonesia.  Hundreds of people from 17 countries (including Canada and 5 European countries) joined this event to share and learn different experiences that have been happening in different parts of this continent.

The day 1 (Mon, 01st October) began with the opening ceremony with a message from Dr. Sinyo Harry Sarundajang, Governor of North Sulawesi. After four Indonesian researchers commented about their visit to Germany thanks to the invitation from Konrad Adenauer Stiftung to learn how the social market economy is working there, Drs. Bambang Ismawan of Bina Swadaya (Indonesia) presented his perspective on solidarity economy. He mentioned the definition on solidarity economy given by Dr. Benjamin Quiñones Jr. (ASEC’s chairman, to be referred to later) as “economy developed by social enterprise”, showed the 3P (People, Planet and Profit) by Dr. Quiñones and underscored that 99.2% of businesses in Indonesia are small or micro enterprises. He also located the solidarity economy for those “economically active but poor,” excluding who are too old or too young and who are the poorest or feasible as conventional small businesses. After accentuating the importance of microcredit on enabling microenterprises’ existence, he explained that the best form of community institutions is self-reliance with “active membership”, “elected leaders”, “Economic + (social & educational)” activities and “democratically participative.” He said that such institutions are “vehicle for mutual learning and teaching, problem identification, decision-making, resource mobilization and communication with 3rd parties” and pointed out their features as “income generating orientation”, “open mindness” and “democratic”.

Then followed Dr. Benjamin Quiñones, Chairman of Asian Solidarity Economy Council (ASEC) from the Philippines who added further information on his definition of Social and Solidarity Economy (SSE). After defining it as something out of the public and private sector, he underscored “people’s participation in ownership & management of resources” and “profit sharing” as co-owners. He identified “solidarity”, “interdependence” and “people-to-people connectivity” as “edifying values” and showed the framework for evaluating SSE from the viewpoint of governance, ethical values, provided social development services, ecological conservation measures and sustainability. Prof. Dato Mohammad Yusof Kasim from University Utara, Malaysia underscored the importance of coops, Prof. Dr. Denison Jayasooria from University Kebangsaan, Malaysia explained that coops and microcredit are one of the key points on the civil society, along with CSR for sustainable development.

In the afternoon five workshops took place (Economic Security, Socially Responsible Governance, Enhanced Social Wellbeing, Healthy Climate and Environment and Edifying Value). Then another plenary took place and Prof. Dr. Paulus Kindangen from Sam Ratulangi University told that the competition by the capitalism has excluded many people, underscored the importance to empower that impoverished people and defined solidarity economy as “way out from the unfairness economic practice of capitalism” while trying not to abolish capitalism but to coexist with it. He mentioned the Article 33 of the Indonesian Constitution to tell that coops’ role is determined as “very important institution in creating or establishing economic democracy in Indonesia”, presented the word “gotong-royong” or “mapalus” as community mutual help, criticized the political intervention as “among the reasons of the cooperative failure”. Ir. Suhaedi from Bank of Indonesia talked about the financial inclusion as one of the biggest challenges of the Indonesian economy and Ms. Vivi George shared her experience of microcredit for women’s productive activities.

The day 2 (Tue, 02nd Oct) started with the presentation by Reiko Inoue, PARCIC Japan, about the hard task of community rebuilding in those coastline regions severely damaged by the tsunami in March 2011 which killed almost 20,000 people. She underlined social capital, market and management skill as most needed factors to develop solidarity economy. Then followed Prof. Wim Poli, professor at Hasanuddin University, Makassar, Indonesia told the need to go beyond the sympathy on building solidarity economy. Then Mr. Jay Lacsamana from the Foundation for a Sustainable Society (the Philippines) explained about this foundation, created as a result from the debt-for-development swap, arranged between the governments of the Philippines and the Switzerland, and told its commitment to the creation of social enterprises and to the local economy development. Then as a case study Mr. Ari Primatoro shared his experience to stimulate the farming in Punur Watershed, Central Java, explaining three achievements (self-help groups promotion, business development services, and market linkage). Mr. Gian Mansa shared his experience of bamboo handicrafts. And Ms. Jeanne Marie O. Bernardo from On Eagle’s Wings Foundation (the Philippines) narrated how she applied the five dimensions of social solidarity economy, namely “social mission-oriented or socially responsible governance”, “edifying value”, “social development services”, “ecological conservation” and “sustainability” onto the Free Range Chicken Supply Chain.

Then another session on finance started. Magnus Young from Impact Investment Exchange Asia (Singapore) explained the social investment opportunities in Asia, followed by this blogger (Miguel Yasuyuki Hirota, expert on social and complementary currencies)’s presentation on social and complementary currencies. Then three case studies were given: Bank Negara Indonesia and PNPM in Bahasa Indonesia (Indonesian language), and the rice and onion supply chain APPEND, which improved farmers’ access to loans in better conditions. In the afternoon the ASEF market was held and different businesses, such as bioethanol, houses, handicrafts and tourism services, were shown, and two more cases were shown, namely an organic rice farming in North Sulawesi presented by Ir. Rachmat Mokodongan and an IT centre at Manado called Manadokota by Piet Hein Pusung, in both of which the importance of mapalus was highlighted. Last but not least, Hasan Tjandra from Sigma Global gave a short overview on the hardship in getting credits from the businessman’s viewpoint.

The last day (Wed, 03rd) began with three presentations on the concepts of solidarity economy: Herman Karamoy and Jullie J. Sondakh from the Sam Ratulangi university showed the definition of social enterprises as “one of the nonprofit organizations” and “a branch of non-profit-organization which mainly deliver goods and services mostly through charity funding and voluntarism” (Kam, 2010) and “the organization that apply business methods and practices in providing and improving benefit or value to the society”, locating them between charities and traditional businesses and underlining the importance of social enterprises’ accountability. Yvon Poirier from CCEDNET explained different, although similar, concepts in relation to solidarity economy, such as social economy, social enterprises and third sector, telling that such a diversity in so many parts of the world is a strength while putting such efforts together is a huge challenge. Shomi Kim from British Council in Korea shared the Global Changemaker, a project to involve the youth to the social change. Then professors at IBA shared their teaching experiences and another community training centre ILMU.

And in the final plenary four presentations were given: Benito Lopulalan and Dewi Hutabarat from AKSI-UI Foundation (Indonesia) presented some cases in which Indonesians are already collaborating with Malaysians or Timorese. Olivier Endelin and Florence Valle from Ekovivo (France) showed their project to help social enterprises get access to microcredits by increasing their visibility on the web. Ricarte B. Abejuela and Monique Sengkey pointed out the important fact that the agreement valid for the border islands between Indonesia and the Philippines is rather a hurdle than an incentive to stimulate the solidarity economy in this region as it limits international trades between these two countries. And finally Ibana The from IBA showed their website www.asefonlinemall.com as a portal site to sell goods made by solidarity economy players in Asia. And on the closing ceremony some IBA students were rewarded for their excellent social enterprise projects.

As this forum was hosted by a business school, it has its own advantages and disadvantages. As advantage I should underline their expertise in business management, marketing and other related skills. And honestly speaking, I was highly impressed by IBA students’ high English proficiency, something quite uncommon in Indonesia.

But at the same time this forum showed some challenges for the future of solidarity economy in Asia, especially in the host country Indonesia: first of all, this forum was rather centred on social enterprises while not enough attention was paid to cooperativism, self-management and these businesses’ relationship with social movements. From my viewpoint, quite influenced by Latin American experiences, the middle class’ role in the solidarity economy, especially in terms of poverty reduction, would be rather to help the poor set up and manage their own coops than set up social enterprises, but it is also important that Asia has complete different historic precedents and, given the fact that many social enterprises have evolved from what used to be charity projects, it’s necessary to respect all the achievements Asians have done so far.

Another point is the limited use of Bahasa Indonesia (Indonesian language) in the conference, which should have kept a huge number of ordinary Indonesians away from this precious event. As solidarity economy is for ordinary people, it’s essential that it should be given in a way ordinary people can understand, and it would be helpful if simultaneous interpretation between English and Bahasa were available.

Symposium on the New Law on Social Economy (Valencia, Spain)

The Jornada sobre la Nueva Ley de Economía Social (Symposium on the New Law on Social Economy) took place at Salón de Actos, Grupo CRM, Valencia, Spain on 06th October 2011 to evaluate the importance of this law which was approved last March.  Three speakers gave presentations on this sector which plays an important role in the Spanish economy.  You can read the English translation of this law at: http://www.socialeconomy.eu.org/IMG/pdf/LEY_E_SOCIAL_TRADUCCION_INGLES.pdf .

The first speaker, Dr. Carmen Comos, director of CEPES (Confederación Empresarial Española de la Economía Social), focused on sharing their experience on the elaboration of the law.  As CEPES gathers already between 85 to 90% of the social economy players throughout the country, it was rather easy to convince the legislators that this organisation represented the whole sector and that negotiations should begin to prepare the draft for the law.  CEPES proposed the idea of this law to all the political parties just after the general elections in 2008 while it had internal discussions to reach the consensus that the law should have few articles without getting into details.  In February 2009 the dialogue for this process between CEPES and the Ministry of Labour and Immigration started, which was not always pacific but triggered lots of debates.  She underscored the following points:

  1. Approval of this law by unanimity
  2. Recognition of the social economy’s contribution on churning out jobs and incomes
  3. Establishment of the dialogue channel between the public sector and social economy players
  4. Obligation of the Spanish State and/or Autonomous Communities to promote the social economy
  5. Visualisation of the social economy to the entrepreneurs and to the academic world

There are challenges, however, to accelerate the growth of this sector, such as the edition of statistics and implementation of public policies so that there should not be any more hurdles at all against the social economy’s development.

The second speaker, Dr. Gemma Fajardo of IUDESCOOP (Instituto Universitario de Economía Social y Cooperativa) and from Universitat de València, explained what is defined in the law.   She began by saying that the European Parliament’s Resolution on Social Economy in February 2009  was an important push for this law and pointed out that it is to show different economic activities under the same brand of social economy without changing regulations on each of them (such as non-profits (called in Spain as “asociaciones”) and coops), even she was quite critical on the definition of the players since, as she put it, not economic activities but the way to run them should be taken into account on achieving the social economy’s goals.  She also indicated the contradiction between this law which makes Autonomous Communities to be in charge of this sector and the Article 131 of the Spanish Constitution which determines that it is the State which plans economic activities.  On top of that she questioned the fact that the “voluntary and open membership”, clearly written on the Social Economy Charter, was omitted in the law.

The last speaker, Dr. José Luis Monzón of IUDESCOOP and of Universitat de València, analysed the social economy sector.  He began by underlining that Spain is the first European country to stimulate this law with definitions coming from the European Parliament and from scientific researches, allowing this sector’s representatives to have dialogues with the public sector in order to plan public policies.  He also said that the social economy is responsible for 10% of the national economy, employing more than one million people and showing the size with figures.

There is no doubt at all that the law should constitute an invaluable platform to stimulate the social economy, but it is also true that there is still a lot to do so that this economy should be truly promoted.  Most people in Spain still do not know the social economy as it is and there is an urgent need that Autonomous Communities should start to spread out information, to provide training courses, to organise conferences and/or put into effect different public policies to accelerate the development of coops, non-profits etc. so that such economic activities as a whole should be widely recognised.

Another feature on which I would like to give a comment is that these presentations were quite Eurocentric without mentioning similar movements which are happening in other continents, such as Latin America (especially Brazil where the Secretary of Solidarity Economy, together with Brazilian Solidarity Economy Forum, has been building up this sector), Canada (especially Quebec) and Africa.  Maybe I have such opinions because of my own views with a huge focus in Latin America and I must admit that most international collaborations that Spain has at the governmental level is by way of the European Union, but it would be quite relevant if such Spanish promoters of social economy should start to dialogue with their non-European partners to set up the channels of mutual learning.

Commitments by the president-elect of Brazil for solidarity economy

Dilma Rouseff was elected on 31st Oct as next president of Brazil (term: from 1st Jan 2011 to 31st Dec 2014) and she has done the following 13 commitments (click here for the original version in Portuguese).  She has also said that she will approve the Solidarity Economy Act.

  1. Consolidate the integration of the National Policy of Solidarity Economy with the country’s sustainable development strategies.
  2. Constitute the Sistema Nacional de Economia Solidária (National System of Solidarity Economy, SINAES) to stimulate the strengthening of the solidarity economy and to enable the articulation among different levels of the government.
  3. Ensure resources for financing programmes and actions to solidarity-based enterprises.
  4. Complete legal instruments which make solidarity economy enterprises feasible and facilitate their formalisation.
  5. Promote an institutional atmosphere favourable for the development of solidarity economy, completing the procedure to access to public resources, credit and formalisation of enterprises.
  6. Complete the access to the knowledge and to the technology:
    Nurture technology and innovation targeted for the solidarity economy, underlining social technology projects;
    Promote policies of training, technical assessment and professional qualification which are adequate to the solidarity economy enterprises;
    Broaden the access to the education, at all the levels, of the workers of solidarity-based enterprises.
  7. Develop and nurture mechanisms of solidarity finance which are adequate to the financing of working capital, of costs and for the purchase of equips and infrastructure of solidarity-based enterprises.
  8. Nurture initiatives of solidarity-based commercialisation and strengthen mechanisms which facilitate the access to the public purchases of goods and services.
  9. Develop the solidarity economy as policy for productive inclusion, economic emancipation and generation of work and income targeted to the public benefitting from social programmes.
  10. Recognise and nurture the solidarity economy in the strategies of international integration, especially in Latin America (Mercosur and Unasur) and Africa.
  11. Strengthen the interdisciplinarity of public policies of the solidarity economy in articulation with the different sectors and policies of the government;
  12. Give continuity to the completion of government policies for the solidarity economy, warranting resources and investing in the capacity for the elaboration, management and execution of public policies for this sector.
  13. Strengthen the National Council of Solidarity Economy as promoter of the National Conferences of Solidarity Economy and of the participation, of the social control and accompanying of policies and programmes of solidarity economy.

Don’t forget to keep an eye on Brazil…