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Social economy: Cooperation to achieve a business dimension, the pending challenge for the social and cooperative economy of Catalonia

In general terms, the social and cooperative economy is experiencing a good moment. Wave prefers the citizen complicityderived from the post-pandemic situation and the verification of the excessive dependence on raw materials that the Russian invasion of Ukraine put on the table, these types of projects are pushed by values ​​such as ethical consumption, proximity, sustainability or cooperation.

This is confirmed by official data, which shows that the Social Economic Program of the Generalitat It has helped to establish 1,027 companies and new social and cooperative economy entities in Catalonia in the last five years. Between 2016 and 2021, the unique projects and the collaborating Athenaeums helped to create 4,757 new jobs.

Values ​​such as ethical consumption, proximity, sustainability or cooperation have gained the pressure

To that end, the Department of Business and Labor has invested over 65 million euros. The statistics draw a certain strategy to promote public policies in this area, which gets a certain twist. However, actions are needed to strengthen this commitment to the social and solidarity economy. This is what the main representative entities of the sector and some experts in the collaboration ask for.

From the Association of Social Economy of Catalonia (Aescat) to speed up the processing of the Social Economy Law, which is now in the definition phase of its articles. Jordi Rojas, a member of its board of directors, reminds the Generalitat “of the need to offer public resources for projects of scale”. Now, he says, “initiatives are mostly small and a greater ability to collaborate is needed”. For Rojas, It is the only way to move towards a sustainable and supportive society. Aescat represents 7,422 organizations, 139,000 workers and a turnover of more than 7,850 million euros.

The key to public policy

Rojas argues that the key to scaling social economy projects is the design of public policies. The Aescat member dismantles some of the materials related to these initiatives. “There is a myth that we get too much public assistance, when we get much less than sectors like energy or cars, when we are not a profitable economy. Therefore, we demand our right to choose these resources.”

Aescat believes that it is the social companies and cooperatives that must lead the way out of the crisis that comes from covid-19 and the growing inflation.

Aescat believes that it is the social companies and cooperatives that must lead the way out of the crisis arising from covid-19 and the growing inflation. “This is the only way to progress against the social and environmental emergency and avoid the collapse of the system“. Rojas points out that “we know that criteria are growing significantly when buying products and services linked to the social economy”. Now, the step he wants is to transfer this trend to daily consumption or for the promotion of public contracting through this type of entities and organizations.

This sensitivity to this economic model, which is more focused on people, is the reason why Xavier López, an expert on cooperation, urges us to take advantage of the tools we already have to strengthen this sector. “We must not invent anything. Social entities, cooperatives or Special Work Centers (CET) already exist”.

López, who was between 2011 and 2016 the Director General of Cooperatives, Social Economy and Self-Employment of the Generalitat, recommends the sector to “generate and weave more alliances of scale to gain more muscle”. In fact, López points out that the social economy is more present than we imagine in our day to day lives.

sympathy bonus

This favorable social context is what should be used to bring scalability to projects. “More than a lot of initiatives, which is fine, these should have an impact.” Ethical finance, local products or responsible consumption They are the sectors that generate the most sympathy among society. López recommends breaking the atomization of the social economy, putting mergers, integration and cooperation in the center of focus. An example would be agricultural cooperatives, which are a new entity under the umbrella of second level cooperatives at the time of their entry. “I noticed that the leaders of these organizations are more aware of these circumstances.”

Ethical finance, local products or responsible consumption are the sectors that generate the most sympathy among society

For López, achieving this awareness is what should push the collaborative economy sector to get the support of the Administration. From the Government of Catalonia, the general director of the Social Economy Program, Josep Vidal, recalled at the time the balance of the data was presented, that the projects will be for a period of three years from this year, which will allow. able programs better.

Vidal emphasized that the program favors the completion of the social economy. As stated, it was thanks to the impulse 14 cooperative collegeswhich has been created by the joint construction of policies and programs to promote the social economy in collaboration with the entities of each territory.

For this year, the same program is expected to incorporate new lines such as HabitatCoop, aimed at promote co-operative housing in transfer of use. While these activities are underway, the social and cooperative economy sector will continue to look at the Netherlands, where all the agricultural cooperatives, one of the sub-sectors that add the most value to the economy, are gathered in one cooperative only. The solution was to adjust a situation with atomic supply and highly concentrated demand.

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