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Community Economy

Community-based economics or community economics is an economic system that encourages local initiative and self-organization as eco-village communities or cohousing experience in city. It is also a topic in the urban economy, linked to the ethical purchase and local purchase, which aims to encourage local producers in the social and solidarity network. An example is the groups of solidary purchases where family groups organize their purchases (food or other goods and services) directly with local producers. In this way, they expand the social economy and solidarity circuit.


A cooperative is an autonomous association of persons united voluntarily to meet their common economic, social, and cultural needs and aspirations through a jointly owned and democratically-controlled enterprise (International Cooperative Alliance definition). Cooperatives are voluntary organisations, based on the values of self-help, democratic principles of management, equality and solidarity, guided by common principles of action. Members actively participate in setting policies and making decisions. “Cooperative members contribute to and control the capital of their cooperative. They usually receive limited compensation, if any, on the capital they subscribe; and decisions regarding the distribution of surplus (whether towards the development of the cooperative, for compensation of members, or supporting community activities) are taken democratically. Cooperatives are autonomous, self-help organizations controlled by members. If they raise funds from external sources, they do so on terms that ensure democratic control by members and maintain the cooperative’s autonomy.”


Democratic Management

A specific style of management which is based on the idea of self- determination, inclusiveness, equal participation, deliberation autonomy, reflexivity, cooperation, self-management and collective ownership. We often find this situation in workers who have some relationship with unionism, thus have a clear political project and see self-management as a revolutionary approach.


Ethical and Solidarity Finance

A broad area where in various forms of capital (financial and non-financial) are structured in ways that consider and value financial performance, social value creation and the affirmation of solidarity values and principles. This field is mainly animated by financial institutions owned and controlled by their members guided by common principles and values such as the one of cooperatives and associations – like credit unions (democratic control, fairer access to investment, peer to peer financial, etc.)

Ethical and Solidarity Investment

Is where the focus of the investment (financial and non- financial) is on the fuller social, environmental, cultural and economic benefits of an initiative, on the organisation’s work and on the health of society as a whole.


Financial and Non-Financial Resources

Is a term covering all resources of an organisation, – including non-financial assets n that can be notified in accounting/book keeping, such as the volunteering time dedicated. From an economic perspective financial resources are the part of the organization’s assets (property). Sometimes financial resources are referred just as Finance, often with some attributes (such as Business finance, Personal finance, Public finance). Non- financial resources are the resources not related to the money and this kind of resources can assume different forms, for example: time; human resources, knowledge, social network, open source movement, voluntary work, local exchange systems, etc.

Financial Instrument

The method of and tool used in providing finance a person or organisation. Financial instruments are constricted by regulation at national and European level, their development is usually lead by banks – and it can include SSE dimension (for example via socially responsible investment such as solidarity saving instruments).

Financial Sustainability

Theoretically, this financial sustainability will enable us to cover our administrative costs and to prioritize our activities so as to accomplish our missions. The revenues from economic activities and other sources (public funds, donations) cover the cost of economic activities, but also of social mission. Generating a surplus is not prohibited in social solidarity economy.


Local Economy and Local Development

Creating and securing a lively local economy through ESS means enhancing the deep ties with the territory, with the history, culture, vocations of its inhabitants and the natural environment that characterizes it. This approach does not want to have a look at the past, but instead wants to encourage innovation (even technological) engagement on a solid foundation, promoting culture, training (even professional), especially in younger generations. Local economy is not a closed economy but a people-based and community-based economy capable of dialogue and interaction with economies of different scale (regional, national, international). The expression local development is used to indicate a wide variety of cultural, scientific, and political positions; diversity with theoretical and methodological references; a variety of practices and examples. Local development is a qualitative increase in the capacity of the territory to act, react, plan and manage complex situations. At the local population level, development is identified as an increase in personal freedoms due to the increase in "capability" (Amartya Sen: learning ability). To read local development, we can not only look at aspects such as local GDP (Gross Domestic Product) or the growth of economic transactions, but we need to look at complex social and political aspects which lead to a rise in living standards that the market alone could not do it. Through co-operation between actors and the creation of stable network of actors over time, the capacity for vision and action increases. It will thus be possible to meet not only the basic needs of the population, but also to promote quality of life and social relations and care and safeguard of the natural environment. SSE organisations can flexibly adapt to local development needs. Not committed to maximising financial profit, SEE organisations can take into consideration the values and expectations of actors in the field of local development, and the long-term effects of decisions, as well as define actual development strategies.


Mainstream Investment

Is defined as putting the money to work in order to increase (maximise) the earning potential.



SSE is based on values and principles of solidarity guiding collective action. SSE principles are the breeding-ground to advocate the recognition of others as the foundation of human action and its core collective dimension, the need for a sustainable development care- taking of nature and its ecosystems, as well as the source of the renovation of politics, economy and society. The social solidarity economy includes activities and organisations of associative, cooperative, and mutual nature created to respond to the needs of the planet, a sustainable development, as well as those citizen movements geared toward democratizing and transforming the economy (Source: CHARTER OF RIPESS, approved by the Board of Directors of RIPESS in Montevideo, October 20, 2008.).


Sector of Activity

In economics with the term economic sector, there is an indication of each possible way of pooling different economic activities according to common features. An important classification is the one that distinguishes the primary sector (agriculture), the secondary (industry) and the tertiary (services); there is also a fourth sector that is that of the so- called advanced tertiary, that of high technology.

Social Auditing

The social accounting and audit framework involves three steps for a SSEO. The first step is about an organisation clarifying its mission, objectives and related activities, and the values and principles that under-pin all its actions, as well as identifying its key stakeholders. The second step involves recognising the quantitative and qualitative indicators that enable the enterprise to report effectively on its performance and impact against its stated mission, objectives and values through data collection and consulting appropriately with its key stakeholders. The third step is about bringing all the collected information together into social accounts that are then verified by an independent panel that, once satisfied, issues a social audit statement.

Social Capital

Social capital is an important resource and can be used in setting up and developing SSEOs. Social Capital is all of these concrete elements and it evolves through relationships between people and organisations:

  • Trust: having relations of trust with people and organisations so that you feel confident and comfortable working with them;
  • Reciprocity and mutuality: having the sort of relations with people and organisations which mean that you do something for them without expecting immediate payback; that you help each other out; that you are prepared to work together on schemes of common advantage;
  • Social networks: being in touch with a wide range of people and organisations so that you get to know them; to learn to trust them and work together; to give and get information;
  • Shared norms of behaviour: realising that you share ideas with others of how things should be done; that you can build a common vision; that you broadly agree on what is acceptable and what is not;
  • Sense of commitment and belonging: realising that sharing a commitment to an area or to a group can uncover a shared understanding of issues and lead to a common sense of purpose.

Social Economy

In the French/Latin speaking areas, social refers to the type of ownership by individual persons and not by shareholders, functioning on the principle of “one person, one vote”. In the English speaking areas social economy is also known as the “third sector: “social” relates to the purpose or the sector of activity, such as day-care, health, care of the elderly, etc. As such, the third sector is positioned between the private for-profit (businesses) and public (state-led public investments and redistribution processes) sectors. In both definition, cooperatives, mutuals, association and non-profits as well as charities and foundations are included. While Social economy is based on shared principles of cooperation, workers' democratic engagement and environmental sustainability, it is usually part of the Market economy and does not challenge it in a transformative way.

Social Enterprise Planning

Setting up SSEOs is different from establishing traditional enterprises. With SSEO enterprises and with organisations operating in the Local Social Economy, it is a social process in itself which may take time. Social enterprises often start by identifying a need or needs within a locality. The needs of a population can be explored using some form of ‘Needs and Resource Analysis’. A social enterprise should write a Social Enterprise Plan which should cover a long number of aspects. It includes topics like conventional business plans but also special ones like social management, social marketing, and social auditing.

Social enterprise/entrepreneurship:

A social enterprise/entrepreneurship is related to “the creation of a social value that is produced in collaboration with people and organisations from the civil society who are engaged in social innovations that usually imply an economic activity". They are for-profit or non-profit organisations acting on a market and providers of welfare services, seeking social impact of their actions and activities, applying commercial strategies that include social value.

Social Finance

May be understood as a broad area Where in various forms of capital are structured in ways that consider and value both financial performance and social value creation. Social finance or social investment should have the following characteristics:

  • Is at least nominally repayable;
  • Pursues an accountable social, cultural or environmental purpose;
  • Is autonomous of the state;
  • Has the mission of the investee as the principle beneficiary of any investment;
  • Is transparent about assessing, measuring and reporting the social impact it seeks to create;
  • Is structured to create financial value or organisational or community capacity over time, e.g. by helping the investee invest in growth, acquire an asset, strengthen management, generate income and/or make savings, and by providing wider non- financial support;
  • Is inclusive.

Social Impact

The social benefit derived from the activities of a social purpose organisation.

There are more definitions regarding social impact or social value, as:

  • By social impact, we mean any of the great variety of changes in physiological states and cognitions and beliefs, values and behaviour human or animal, as a result of the real, implied, or imagined presence or actions of other individuals. (Latané, 1981);
  • By social impact we mean the consequences to human populations of any public or private actions that alter the ways in which people live, work, play, relate to one another, organize to meet their needs and generally act as a member of society. To the norms, values, and beliefs that guide and rationalize their cognition of themselves and society. (Burdge & Vanclay, 1996);
  • Social value is created when resources, inputs, processes or combined to generate improvements in the lives of individuals or society as a whole (Emerson et al., 2000.

Social Marketing

Alcalay and Bell (2000) use a variety of definitions of social marketing to describe their commonalities and arrive at a consensus definition. First, social marketing is a label that is generally applied to programs that are deemed by authority figures to be beneficial to individuals and society in general. Second, there is no financial profit from implementing a social marketing campaign. Third, the ultimate goal is behaviour change, not just education and awareness. Fourth, those using social marketing attempt to incorporate the unique knowledge, attitudes, and beliefs of the stakeholders into their campaigns. Fifth, they attempt to not only influence the relevant individuals, but also social structures that may be preventing individuals from achieving the focal goals. And finally, there is a reliance on commercial marketing concepts, such as consumer-driven strategy to offering product, price, positioning, promotion, and placement.

Social Solidarity Economy (SSE)

While especially in francophone countries the term “Economie Sociale et Solidaire” is equated to the social economy (and sometimes to social business), mainly in its institutional recognition, RIPESS uses Social Solidarity Economy to join the two approaches as a political, social and institutional movement including different economic approaches from organisations seeking social value and repairing Market economy damages, to initiatives seeking a more radical socio-economic change. It includes non-profit organisations, for-benefit enterprises and informal economic initiatives, by their explicit economic, social and environmental objectives as well as various forms of collaborative, associative and solidarity relations.

Social Solidarity Economy Organisation (SSEO)

SSE Organisations act according to the following criteria:

  1. Economic activity
  2. Social/societal objective (including social, cultural, ecological objectives) 
  3. Citizens’ initiative and participative structure
  4. For social profit (not for private gain)

Solidarity Economy

Solidarity economy gathers transformative citizen-led initiatives understanding economy as a space of social relationships based on solidarity, human and Earth rights, self-determination, mutuality and cooperation. Solidarity initiatives are seeking to democratise economy and participate strengthening social, economic, and environmental justice. SE is not a sector of the economy, but a transversal approach that includes initiatives in all sectors, sharing a broad set of values contrasting with the dominant Market economy, such as cooperation vs competition, mutual support and solidarity vs individualism, horizontal organisation and democratic decision making. vs hierarchy and centralized structures It is an attempt towards solidarity-based practices of production, exchange and consumption that generate livelihoods while implementing democratic principles and fundamental rights for common well-being.

SSE Circuits: Supply and Distribution Chains in SSE

Supply and distribution chains consist of all the steps taken to source, produce, transform, distribute and manage residues of goods or services. In SSE, they tend towards a circular economy, reducing energy and waste consumption as much as possible. They can also include the financing, research and development, transport and logistics, promotion and communication activities needed throughout the production and supply process. According to SSE values and principles, the solidarity reorganization of these chains relies on trust relationships and reciprocal guarantees between the different actors involved (producers, artisans, service furnishers, consumers, etc.) and it increases shared benefits as social inclusion, wealth redistribution, equality, transparency, democratic involvement, healthy environment and many other positive impacts for all the communities involved. The open and cooperative nature of the supply and distribution chains encourages the creation and support of new initiatives and enterprises when the natural growth limits of one or more actors in the chain are reached.

SSE Inter-Cooperation

Inter-cooperation – cooperation between SSE initiatives – is an instrument aimed at strengthening existing companies and organisations, creating other new ones and conceiving new projects. It can be done in different ways: carrying out joint business activities, creating second-tier cooperatives and cooperative groups, through socio-political, sectorial and territorial non-profit organisations, etc. In turn, the public authorities must promote responsible public procurement so that companies working with them as providers and suppliers are outstanding in terms of their social and environmental responsibility.

SSE Networks

SSE networks are sets of economic, social and political interlinked initiatives that include many different actors or groups of actors (called nodes) who play different roles, bringing different resources and needs. The organizational or legal form of the entities is not considered as important as the perspective and the values pursued, adopting "approaches from local to global that support freedom, reciprocity, solidarity and egalitarian exchange" (cit. RIPESS EU). These networks are built at different scale: they can be local (e.g. XES Catalunya or RES Marche), national (e.g. REAS) or international (e.g. RIPESS), as well as sectoral (e.g. food or energy) and inter-sectoral (e.g. URGENCI – CSA network) and their flexible structure allows them to develop different practices and enterprises (e.g. worker- and consumer-owned cooperatives, associations, rural farmers' unions, fair trade networks, local/social currencies, bartering market, etc.)


There are three dimensions of sustainability: economic, social, and environmental in SSE and in CSR and triple bottom line. In SSE, the objective of economic sustainability cannot be separated from those of social and environmental sustainability. The objective of the SSE is to promote people and the economy is an instrument to improve the quality of their lives. It is not the people who are tools for an economy that has as its priority the profit of a few. Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) includes initiatives of companies that - while pursuing profit-making - decide to explicitly present a series of internal and external instances, providing economic, social and environmental benefits for all stakeholders; triple bottom line (TBL) is an accounting framework with three parts: social, environmental (or ecological) and financial. Many organizations have adopted the TBL framework to evaluate their performance in a broader perspective to create greater business value. 3P: in SSE we are flipping the priorities of the TPL from profit-planet-people to people-planet-benefit.


Value-Based Banks (social banks)

Banks and banking cooperatives with a shared mission to use finance to deliver sustainable economic, social and environmental development.


Values in SSE are referring to an ethical horizon in beliefs and behaviours developed and discussed by stakeholders, in each organisation. The definition of those values are usually informed and referenced to a set of national and international texts and conventions expressing Human rights, social justice and peace principles, as well as shared human progress perspective: the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948), the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (1966), International Labour Organisation Founding Declaration (known as the Declaration of Philadelphia concerning the aims and purposes of the ILO, 1944), etc.. Those values are interpreted and transposed in practices through organisational principles and statutory statements, rules and regulations, for instance: participative decision making, dignity and equality guarantees (social protection, the right to choose one’s occupation and built a chosen career, to evolve in it, to have actual access to long life professional training, etc.); empowerment processes (“popular education”, professional training, genders equality guarantees, etc.). As a matter of example, at a network level, RIPESS Europe members gathered in its charter values such as: Humanism, Democracy, Solidarity, Inclusiveness, Subsidiarity, Diversity, Creativity, Sustainable development, Equality, Equity and justice for all, respecting the integration of countries and people, A plural and solidarity-based economy. (Source: CHARTER OF RIPESS, approved by the Board of Directors of RIPESS in Montevideo, October 20, 2008.).


Worker Self-Management

"Worker self-management (WSM) is the idea that those who produce should control their workplaces. It is based upon the premise that hierarchical forms of MANAGEMENT and organization are unnecessary, undesirable, and can be replaced by DEMOCRATIC forms of decision making.” Extract from The Dictionary of Alternatives, Utopianism and Organization, Martin Parker, Valérie Fournier, and Patrick Reedy, Zed Books, USA, 2007.

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