It might be confusing that sometimes we talk about Social Economy, sometimes about Solidarity Economy and sometimes about Social Solidarity Economy. Why is that? Sounds quite similar, doesn’t it? Are they all the same thing with different names depending on the heritage of some countries, or the result of various semantic approaches? For sure, there are many common points and values in those three concepts. Together they share the view that the pure essence of economy is not profit above everything else, and that the economy is not an iso-lated entity from the natural world or from the social dimension, that the value of economy should stay in the hands of those who created or produced that value as much as possible. We can think what social is and what solidarity is within an integrated term – Social Solidarity Economy. We can look at it as we are seeing twins – separate, but very connected and from the same origin. However, as very often, the devil is in the details.

We in the BUSSE project obviously put high emphasis on the solidarity part of our twins. We are standing by the position that in the 21st century we can’t be satisfied with making the economy just a little bit better no matter the tools. Whether it is the green economy, corporate social responsibility or something else with pretty much the same short and shallow shiny touch. The problems of our civilization that we have continuously piled up for many decades and even centuries, calling us for something more than 10 easy and tiny steps for saving the planet or humans. The situation with economic inequality and injustice, environmental degradation, resource wars and climate change, poor democracy and manipulation in political busi-ness, the deterioration of human rights and tolerance, are so serious that it is not enough to be greener, more energy efficient, buy more eco-products and so on. It urges us, it calls us, it screams for substantial transformation. Here we promote and nourish, advocate and practice all those transformative collective actions or public policies work.

We are finishing this Booklet in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic crisis which, as a consequence of our brutal invasion of Nature, reminds us also so brutally of the urgent needs for these transformative actions and policies for a more sustainable, just and solidarity-based world. It also makes us aware of the need for transformation in crucial areas of our society. Transformation with solidarity at its core.

This severe situation shouldn’t discourage us, the uncertainty ahead of us, this enormous jig-saw puzzle of global problems that we need to solve and connect its isolated and dispersed pieces in a clear and admirable picture. Actually, we can see it as a mature person standing in front of its challenges and things that need to be done – not standing aside. This also means that we will not be satisfied with crumbs and cosmetic plastering of the economy and democracy. We shouldn’t be scared, because if we are active at this critical time, it means we care, we are alive

In this Booklet we have presented some of ways in which Social Solidarity economy is active and alive already here and now, how people all over Europe are actively using these transformative practices and policies to share and spread solidarity and sustainability.

You can also see that the Booklet has devoted a lot of space to concrete examples, real life stories, inspiring case studies. That is our message. SSE is not just a theory or wishful thinking. SSE is a tool to transform our imagination into our real life and succeed.

This Booklet aims to help adult learners to become more aware, more informed and educated, closer to Social Solidarity Economy and we hope that we have made several steps further in this direction. We also invite you to not stop here but to contact our organizations that are partners in this project. We need many fellow companions on this transformation journey.


Ekumenická akademie/Ecumenical Academy (EA) is an NGO established in 1996 in the Czech Republic and our vision is a socially just, sustainable and tolerant society.

EA supports alternative forms of economical democracy, such as Social Soli-darity Economy (SSE), Fair Trade, co-operatives. EA has more than 20 years of experience in informal education, co-operation with universities, campaigning on responsible consumption and alternative economic models and creating good practice examples of SSE.

EA has been working on promoting and practicing SSE since 2004 at national and international level. It was an initiator of Fair Trade movement in the Czech Republic, has run a Fair Trade shop for 10 years and in 2013 co-established Fair & Bio coffee Roasters.

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For more than 7 years the “Dobrze” Food Co-operative has been running com-munity-based shops with organic food in Warsaw. It’s experience presents a successful example on how a grass-roots community can create an inclusive, socially and environmentally responsible economic model. The goal of “Dobrze” Food Co-op is to support a system of food production and distribution that fulfils the needs of consumers and producers and takes care of our environment. It is driven by the belief that direct co-operation between consumers and producers contributes to strengthening active citizenship and creates a fair economy, ben-eficial for all involved parties.

The Co-op shops are the joint property of its members who govern it according to international co-operative principles. Currently, the cooperative has almost 600 members and more than 1000 clients, employs 14 people and co-operates with around 20 small-scale farms throughout the whole season.


Utopia is a civic association founded in 2010 to support deepening of democratic processes in society, building citizens’ participation and promoting socially inclusive and environmentally friendly policies. The main mission of Utopia is to advance, create and implement social innovations leading to alleviation of poverty and social exclusion and to fostering of democratic co-operation, community development and environmental sustainability. It creates space for people’s participation in various decision-making processes, e.g. through participatory budgeting. Utopia supports the development of SSE through research, analyses and organisation of public events on this topic and through transnational co-operation and net-working. It has been mapping the situation of SSE and co-operatives in Slovakia and in the Visegrad countries. It supports grassroots activities aimed at fighting poverty and social exclusion in people‘s daily lives. 

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The ksoe (Catholic Social Academy of Austria) provides adult education for a socio-ecological transformation in the areas of alternative/solidarity economy, leadership and participation and social justice. All research and practical work is carried out on the basis of Catholic Social Teaching, from an ecumenical and feminist perspective, oriented to humanist, social and appropriate structures, fair distribution and participation of everyone.

Participation and empowerment are key words for ksoe work and it encourages people to authentically and responsibly seize power to shape the future in or-ganizations and elsewhere. The ksoe also support the development of an open culture of dialogue and promote the implementation of participatory structures and processes in organizations and enterprises – in times of strategic, structural and/or cultural change.

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RIPESS is the European umbrella network of the Social Solidarity Economy (SSE) organizations (part of the RIPESS intercontinental network), bringing together 37 national, sectoral and inter-sectoral networks in 15 EU countries (thus hundreds of non profit entities and SSE enterprises). It aims at sharing best practices and engaging in joint actions that can expand and enhance the visibility of the Social Solidarity Economy. The network gathers thousands of SSE stakeholders and organizations at European level, facilitating network intercooperation, awareness raising, peer-training and education and joint advocacy, contributing to legal frameworks and public policies.

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Last modified: Tuesday, 13 April 2021, 1:04 PM