Solidarity Cooperatives

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= "Solidarity cooperatives” are multi-stakeholder coops, bringing togther all parties involved in a particular endeavor―workers, consumers, producers and members of the larger community―in a democratic structure of ownership and control. [1]


John Restakis:

"With the withdrawal of government from the funding of many social services, and in combination with the current economic crisis and the austerity prescriptions that have come with it, there is an urgent need for new forms of social care that not only provide quality services for citizens, but also reform the structure and purpose of social care itself. Over the last twenty years, social and solidarity co-operatives have emerged as a new from of social welfare in which civil society, and the users of these services, have taken control over how social care is designed and delivered – in partnership with governments at local and regional levels. First pioneered in Italy, social co-ops reprsent a new form of open co-operation in which multiple stakeholders work together to provide services not only to co-op members but to the community as a whole. This presentation reviews the rise of social and solidarity co-ops as a form of co-operation that points to new, civic solutions to the traditional challenges of the welfare state, particularly in the current context of social and economic crisis." (email, August 2014)


Jean-Daniel Cusin:

  • Self-help: to improve the quality of life within the community and to increase the community’s internal capacity to create further change by institutionalizing the community development process

  • Asset-based development starts from an assessment of a community’s resources and thinking about how to mobilize those resources for the benefit of the community. A community’s assets include the human, social, physical, financial, and environmental, or taken together … “community capital.”

  • Self-development: “The objective of self-development efforts is to gain control of the local economy by the community…Self development efforts operate for the benefit of the whole community while promoting the collective management and ownership of the (locally created and owned) enterprises”

(email, August 2014)


Pat Conaty:

"In Europe and in North America we have strong Co-op sector good practice to build upon. What is fascinating at present and spreading internationally as a new tendency is the Multi-Stakeholder Co-op phenomenon. Known as either Social Co-ops or Solidarity Co-ops It has its roots in Northern Italy but it has spread to Spain, Portugal, France (still rather small there), Poland, Hungary and Quebec in Canada. Our colleague John Restakis has a wonderful chapter in his book Humanising the Economy on this movement. Mike Lewis and I also have a section on the Italian Social Co-ops in our book.

The key strategic point that I would emphasise here is that the Social Co-ops in Italy and the similar Quebec Solidarity Co-ops both unite and give political voice in a collaborative way to Commoners. Their strategic mission and indeed legal obligation by statute is the pursuit of the General Interest of Citizens and the securing of the Common Good, namely as I see it and as many of them demonstrate, the practical ways to build commonwealth and well being.

In Quebec there are now 500 Solidarity Co-ops and the unusual nature of this stakeholder Co-op (as opposed to traditional worker or consumer co-ops) is leading since 2008 to a mentality shift in Quebec. I heard last week from a Canadian co-op leader in Montreal that more than 9 out of 10 of new Co-ops formed in the past couple of years in Quebec province, are Solidarity Co-ops. That is a salient change in karma, it would appear." (email contribution, July 2013)

More Information

Book Chapter

  • Solidarity Co-operatives (Quebec, Canada). How Social Enterprises can Combine Social and Economic Goals. By Jean-Pierre Girard, Geneviève Langlois. OECD, 2009


Chapter from: The Changing Boundaries of Social Enterprises [2]


"In many European countries, multi-stakeholder co-operatives provide a positive contribution to the renewal of the co-operative model by offering relevant answers to new needs that combine social and economic dimensions. However, in North America, this model has a very limited impact, except in the Canadian province of Quebec where solidarity cooperatives can be found. In the ten-year period from 1997 to 2007, 479 solidarity co-operatives were created. The solidarity co-operative was developed to attract new key players of the civil society. Indeed, solidarity co-operatives can be set up in many original ways in various branches of industry, including new ones for co-operatives such as environment, leisure, fair trade and health care. After an overview of the development of multi-stakeholder co-operatives from a global perspective, this chapter explains the genesis of the idea behind solidarity co-operatives in Quebec and present the legal provisions which define the concept and which prescribe its policies. This is followed by a brief portrait of the development of the formula following the legal act which led to its existence in 1997, and by data that relates to the current number of co-operatives and participant members, branches of the industry and their regional distribution. The last section offers an overview of the key findings of a research project dedicated to the impact of solidarity cooperatives on social cohesion and will focus on solidarity co-operatives evolving in the health care sector. A set of recommendations concludes the chapter." (


  • Girard, J-P (2004) “Solidarity Cooperatives in Quebec (Canada): an Overview” in: C. Borzaga

and R. Spear (Eds.), Trends and Challenges for Co-operatives and Social Enterprises in Developed and Transition Countries, Edizioni 31, Trento, Italy.

  • Girard, J-P. (2009) “Solidarity Co-operatives (Quebec, Canada): How Social Enterprises can

Combine Social and Economic Goals” in Noya, A. (Ed.), The Changing Boundaries of Social Enterprises. Paris: Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). 14"

  • Lund, M. (2010). Solidarity as a Business Model: A Multi-stakeholder Cooperative Manual.

Kent, Ohio. Cooperative Development Center, Kent State University.