Social Economy - Europe

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From: Henry Rouille d'Orfeuil, http://www.geo.coop

"Equivalent to what in the US is called the alternative economy, but bigger and more diverse, Europes social and solidarity economy sets the tone in the vast domain of enterprises between the commercial marketers and government services. This embraces associations, societies, non-profits, non-governmental organizations, producer co-ops, consumer co-ops, foundations, ethical banks, and includes tenant organizations, social currencies, even ethical tourism. It embraces 8% of enterprises and 10% of employment in Europe, showing one can start an enterprise without being moved solely by the logic of profit.

Solidarity investments, says DOrfeuil, president of Frances Finansol with 30,000 savers, foster democratic workplaces, local development and employment, environmental responsibility, and employment of the disabled.

Promoters of the social and solidarity economy, in, but not limited to, Europe (many websites have English options) include:

´ Agency for Promoting the Social and Solidarity Economy (APRESS) is a Paris-based media co-op that communicates news about the social and solidarity economy to the world. www. mediasol.org

´ Credit Cooperatif. Most owners of this bank in the North of France are associations or cooperatives. It provides Third World development loans to solidarity enterprises to fight hunger and gives savers a solidarity choice to fund local democratic enterprises.

´ Banca Etica. Perhaps Europes largest, started with savings from Italys co-ops for loans to social cooperatives, becoming itself a co-op in 1994. Member-savers may direct personal savings to co-ops, third world development, fair trade, or organic agriculture. www.bancaetica.com

´ Mouvement d'Economie Solidaire. A solidarity economy network including advocates for unemployed persons, savers and investors for self-management, solidarity development, and federations of neighborhood associations. [email protected]

´ Lilliput Network. Milan-based non-violent group re-directing economic choices to democratic, environmental options„including ethical tourism„by boycotts, pickets, and information. Like little Lilliputians who bound the giant Gulliver, each with a single hair, so they try to stop the economic tyrant driven by profit. www.retelilliput.org

´ Workshop on Socioeconomy of Solidarity www.socioeco.org. Part of Alliance for a Responsible, Plural & United World (www.alliance21.org, a global network disseminating collectively generated free multi-lingual booklets on co-ops, social money, etc). Groups in over 115 nations have signed its 1993 charter.

´ Radically Democratise Democracy Network www.budget-participatif.org Over 300 members in 18 countries promote understanding of Porto Alegres participative budget policy."

(From Henry Rouille d'Orfeuil in: Permission not for commercial or for-profit use. ©2001 GEO, P.O. Box 115, Riverdale, MD 20738-0115 http://www.geo.coop)