In a video clip (in French with English subtitles), SOS Faim shows how Autre Terre has successfully managed to combine economic and social interests, even in the South.
The social economy is not a recent phenomenon. The inclusive and cooperative mindset which is the basis of the social economy is as old as humanity itself. The social and solidarity economy, which emerged in the 1970s, is a term which casts a wide net. It encompasses various forms of businesses in just about all sectors, and includes all kinds of people. Nonetheless, the book Économie sociale et solidaire, under the coordination of Jacques Defourny, demonstrates the common trait which links these diverse groups: collective solidarity.
The social economy is often seen as the "third pillar" between the private sector and the public sector. It differentiates itself from "conventional" private businesses by (1) its social purpose, (2) the democratic decision-making process and (3) the distribution of incomes, whereby people take priority over capital. The main difference between the social economy and the private sector is budget autonomy.
It is an interesting model! In the context of the EU-financed project SUSY (SUstainable and Solidarity economY), SOS Faim demonstrates how the model works using the work of a member of Groupe Terre. This group is made up of 10 social businesses which work in various sectors in Belgium (recycling of clothing, paper, etc.) and employs 350 people. Autre Terre, the organisation which is the focus of the video clip, is an NGO under Belgian law which has set up a range of activities under the umbrella of the social and solidarity economy. The company is based in Liege and works in Wallonia and Brussels, but also in West Africa and Latin America. In West Africa and in Peru, the most important sectors for the NGO are waste processing in urban areas, and agroecology.
Social economy differentiates itself from "conventional" private businesses by (1) its social purpose, (2) the democratic decision-making process and (3) the distribution of incomes, whereby people take priority over capital.
The economy in the service of people
With this video clip, SOS Faim wanted to show how Autre Terre has successfully managed to combine economic and social interests, and the benefits provided when the social and solidarity economy goes hand in hand with international cooperation. The economic aspect is at play everywhere, since all the projects supported by Autre Terre are focused on setting up an economic structure which is more or less viable. Nonetheless, the main priority is to enable the local population to determine its own local economic course, and ensure that the economy is at its service. The social aspect is therefore just as important as the economic aspect. Consequently, Autre Terre does not develop its own economic activities. It strives to set up joint programmes with local organisations in West Africa and Peru, starting from economic initiatives with a social purpose. The NGO intends to build on the good practices of its partners in the South, and share its own good experiences.