What is Solidarity Economy
Solidarity Economy represents an alternative to the dominant capitalist model, based on self-interest and profit, which benefits mainly rich countries, due to unfair economic and trade relations. Unregulated free market undermines national and local economic systems as well as the traditional solidarity relationships in rural areas. It led to the exclusion of millions of people, mainly in the South, but also in Northern Countries.
Solidarity Economy is not the opposite of capitalism. But, it tries to implement new forms of regulation within capitalism, according to ethical principles, for the benefit of people, families and communities. It is a reconstruction of the relation between economic and social dimension, which puts people at the centre of economic and social development, and looks for a sustainable development.
Solidarity Economy must not be confused with informal sector. In many cases, informal economy is characterized by individual subsistence activities that generate very limited incomes, as well as precarious and indecent work, without concern about social improvement and environmental protection. Solidarity Economy is generally part of informal sector. But it is guided by social and environmental concerns and tries to improve the conditions of living of a group or community.
Solidarity Economy is based on the following principles
• Autonomy of management
• Equality among participants
• Gender equality
• Solidarity between generations
• Services to the community
• Conservation of the environment
• Involvement in political and social life
Solidarity economy is progressively defined from practices, which appeared in individual or collective actions and afterwards have been confronted with the reality in the field.It includes a wide range of initiatives such as:
• Self Help Groups
• Mutual and associative companies
• Microfinance initiatives
• Commercialisation groups
• Community based seed banks/livestock banks
• Fair TradeSolidarity
Economy is a new approach of economics, which aims at a global transformation, not only in the field of economics, but also in social, political, cultural and environmental spheres.