Projects on Social Economy

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3.5. Projects on Social Economy (v. 0.1)

Social Infrastructure and Institutional Innovation - Steam Three

Potential pilot projects

1. Allianza Solidaria

The Co-operative Housing Alliance is a co-operative organization in southern Quito which for twenty -five years has been implementing a project of housing and community development on thirty-six acres of land is collectively owned.

The current facility is located directly opposite the Quitumbe Terminal. Allianza Solidaria is one of the largest housing co-operatives in Ecuador and the first housing co-operative that is successfully developing an integrated proposal for habitat, community and housing in the country.

The co-operative has completed the construction of a community for 500 families and is completing the construction of 800 additional homes. From an old landfill, the co-op has created a community park, which is currently managed by the community.

The projection of the Allianza Solidaria includes the completion of an additional 500 housing units in the area and the development of a major shopping center, a public plaza, and a community service center on site.

With the completion of housing on this site and the interests of the co-operative in the promotion of other forms of common property and community cooperation projects, there is an opportunity to develop a series of community services structured co-operatively for the residents of this community.

These could include:

  • A training center and cooperative, community and environmental training;
  • Senior Care
  • Childcare
  • Education Services
  • Carpool
  • Food Services, linked to local producers
  • Health services
  • Etc.

Pilot Description - Community Service Co-operatives of South Quito

The proposed pilot would be the identification and development of community and personal services that could be provided by social co-operatives in the area. A process of community development and inclusive education will be launched to introduce the concept of social co-operatives, to identify local priorities for services, and to recruit support from local actors and participation.

A feasibility study will be conducted concerning viability of the proposed services to be provided. Business plans would then be made ​​for the services of the co-operative to be piloted. Funding, technical support, and resources for co-operative development will be allocated on the basis of these business plans.

This process can also be co-sponsored and provided with technical support from two universities that maintain close relations with the co-operative organizations in the region.

2. Sigchos

Sigchos is a community of 12,000 in the county of Cotopaxi in central Ecuador. The region is the third poorest county in the country. Economic development in the region is focused primarily on diary production, sugar cane, and small-scale farm production.

Key issues constraining the advancement of economic development include poor regional infrastructure including lack of proper roads; lack of value-added processing capacity for local products (sugar, dairy); monopolization of local distribution and processing by private, international firms; absence of local investment and loan capital for enterprise development; and absence of social/economic organization among local small firms and producers.

There is enormous interest and support for applying the ideas and policy recommendations from the FLOK Project to development projects in this region, both on the part of local political authorities and the local population. Following an intensive tour of the region and community discussion, a number of areas have been proposed as possible opportunities for the application of co-operative models to support local economic development particularly among small producers.

Pilot Description

Based on very preliminary discussions, co-op pilots could be explored for aiding local development in the following areas:

  1. Aggregation, processing, marketing of local sugar
  2. Development of co-operatively-owned dairy processing for local producers
  3. Transition to organic production and links to urban consumers
  4. Development of co-operative support networks for local eco-tourism
  5. Creating local/regional sources of investment and loan capital, including participation of local credit union
  6. Public/civil partnership for the improvement of local infrastructure (roads, bike and hiking trails, ICTs, etc.)

Pilot projects focusing on one or more of the activities described above would be developed following a further community process of identifying local priorities, conducting feasibility studies, and developing business plans for proposed co-operative development projects.

3. Small Firm Networks

Ecuador’s small firms are the country’s primary source of employment creation and a key constituency for promoting a new model of sustainable development away from large-scale extraction and focusing instead on small and medium firms as drivers of a social knowledge economy.

While small firms play key roles in a number of strategic industrial sectors, they are handicapped by lack of long-term sector development strategies, by small scale, by the absence of inter-firm business networks and associations, by limited use of ICTs, and by the absence of sector and firm directed specialized training and development.

Pilot Description

This pilot would focus on the development of co-operative business networks among small firm clusters in strategic industrial sectors. Following analysis and consultation among key stakeholders and small enterprises, the pilot would identify in which sectors, and among which groups of firms, business networks might be developed. Feasibility studies would be conducted, business plans developed, and stakeholders recruited among small firms, universities, and local authorities to pilot business networks and service centres in three strategic sectors.

4. National Strategy for Organic Production/National Organic Producers Association

Ecuador is in a process of change in its production matrix and this is especially true of the country’s small agriculture economy. One of the most interesting shifts is happening in the field of organics.

Many organizations in Ecuador are working to promote Good Living and food sovereignty in rural communities. However to be effective, these actors must join forces with public institutions to co-create a national strategy for the promotion of organic agriculture. The international organics market has an annual growth of 15 % (U.S., Europe, Japan and China) and is valued at U.S. $ 190 billion. The global organics market entails great opportunities for Ecuador if the country can develop the policies and sectoral institutions to access it.

Currently, Ecuador has no concrete proposals to address food sovereignty, to incorporate small producers in its management, and to maintain and strengthen the existing indigenous, muntubia, and Afro-Ecuadorian rural organizations.

Similarly, the government fails to ensure the price of organic products in the local and national markets. Thus, organic producers have set as their overall goal the creation of a new marketing structure with a focus on the expansion of organic production in the country that is oriented to the principles of food sovereignty, to meet the growing international demand for organic products, to generate jobs locally, and to ensure a fair price for producers.

Pilot Description

The purpose of the project is to complete a feasibility study for the development of a national organic producers association and to identify the organizations and producers in Ecuador who are prepared to participate in its creation. The second focus of the pilot is to propose an organizational structure for the association and the strategic priorities for its work.

To achieve this goal we propose the following over the longer term:

  1. To conduct a mapping of peasant organizations of both organic and conventional production and of small and medium scale;
  2. To develop strategies for the systemic planning and organization of organic production and to develop a production model that is owned and controlled by peasant families;
  3. To construct a laboratory for research on bio augmentation, bio stimulation and bio control with the use of natural microbiological inoculants, bio fertilizers, to support biochemical soil biology, fertility, and increases the production of plants;
  4. To use digital technology systems for training via teleconferencing (Infocenter), knowledge sharing, and creation of a "field" video to show what has happened in the fields;
  5. To apply permaculture to rural areas which have normal access to irrigation (80 %), water (28 %) and to improve septic systems;
  6. To conduct a diagnosis on prices in the field, taking into account work done and materials required to produce a crop;
  7. To strengthen existing networks and build collection centers to meet national and international demand for organic products and to control the quality of the planting of the products in the field; and
  8. To identify with Pro-Ecuador export markets and develop sales strategies.

This proposal should be co-ordinated at the national level and implemented locally through the ministries in the territory and local governments in conjunction with farmers' organizations. We therefore propose that in this project cantons or provinces with strong social organizations and with an infrastructure that enables the implementation of this project be sought as potential pilot sites.