Workshop on Strengthening Social and Solidarity Economy (SSE) Policy in Asia takes place virtually

The capacity-building workshop on Strengthening SSE Policy in Asia, held virtually, brought stakeholders from six countries in Asia and the Pacific region.

News | 31 March 2021
The ILO held a three-day virtual workshop on March 29-31, 2021 as part of the second component of its project on Strengthening Social and Solidarity Economy Policy in Asia, funded by the Korean Ministry of Employment and Labour (MOEL) and implemented by the Korea Social Enterprise Promotion Agency (KoSEA).


The workshop brought together 37 participants from tripartite delegations, practitioners, and researchers in the SSE movement, and international organization representatives from six Asian countries (Japan, Republic of Korea, China, Malaysia, the Philippines and Indonesia). The workshop’s objective was two-fold: First, to raise awareness about the role of cooperatives and wider SSE in realising inclusive and sustainable development, in the post-COVID-19 recovery and beyond; and second, to promote dialogue among constituents and key SSE stakeholders and increase their capacity in developing and strengthening SSE policies.

The workshop began with opening remarks from Vic Van Vuuren, Director of ILO Enterprises Department, and Insun Kim, President, KoSEA who remarked on SSE’s key role in driving a sustainable post-COVID-19 recovery, and promoting dialogue and collaboration is key to further raising awareness and visibility of SSE in the region and beyond. Mr. Young-joong Kim, Employment Policy Officer of the Ministry of Employment and Labor emphasized the Korean government’s strong support and commitment to the advancement of the SSE at both national, regional and international levels.

This was followed by “Setting the Scene with ILO” session, where Ms. Simel Esim, ILO COOP Manager reflected on ILO’s perspective on the cooperatives and wider SSE at the global level. Mr. Tendy Gunawan, National Programme Officer, ILO Jakarta Office shared ILO Indonesia’s experience on the SSE, describing projects on job creation for youth and refugees through social enterprise model and providing work integration for persons with disabilities.

The second session consisted of researchers from six countries presenting the key findings from the mapping of SSE policies and institutions in six countries. Preliminary policy orientations that could strengthen SSE in the Asia and Pacific region were also shared.

The first day concluded with a session on “SSE & COVID-19” with Ms. Sujin Ahn from KoSEA presenting on how the Korean government’s response to the affected SSE institutions during COVID-19 pandemic built on a strong public-private partnership thus enabling a resilient recovery. Following suit, Ms. Juhee Lee from iCOOP shared highlights from consumer cooperatives’ responses to their members and communities’ needs during COVID-19 (i.e. setting up prepayment campaigns, and marketing SSE products in online shops and stores). Ms. Min Aeng, Executive Director of the Korea Health Welfare Social Cooperative Federation (HWSOCOOP) presented the experience of health, welfare and social cooperatives providing integrated care services to the affected members and wider public during COVID-19.

The second day of the workshop began with a thematic session on “Informal Economy & SSE.” Ms. Sandra Yu, Decent Work Specialist in ILO Bangkok gave an overview of the definition, scope and conceptual framework of the informal economy. She reflected on the importance of formalization for decent work and highlighted the role of SSE in facilitating the transition from the informal to the formal economy. The session featured three cases: the National Network of Informal Workers (PATAMABA) in the Philippines, Korean Domestic Workers’ Association (KDWA), and Lovely Paper, a social enterprise for elderly waste pickers in South Korea.

The next session focused on “Rural Economy & SSE” where participants took a virtual tour to Hongsung and Gunsan in South Korea which illustrated how SSE contributes to the revitalization of the rural economy. In Hongsung, participants visited sites such as the Cooperative Youth Collabo Farm, which engages youth in activities and programs that foster cooperative community management and develop organic farming skills. The tour also included a visit to Farming for Happiness that provides work integration through social farming and provide care services for disabled persons. The cases in Gunsan showcased how the local government’s partnership with community groups helped the revitalization of abandoned manufacturing sites, by supporting the development of sustainable businesses by young entrepreneurs. A concrete example is a hub called Local:Rise for local entrepreneurs to work, collaborate and build on their skills.

On the last day, participants engaged in an action planning exercise, where representatives from the six countries came together in national groups to develop concrete action plans on SSE tailored to their specific national contexts. Participants shared their action plans at the plenary session. Two representatives from workers’ and employers’ organizations provided congratulatory message - Mr. Shoya Yoshida, General Secretary, International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) Asia-Pacific and Mr. Trevor Sworn, Board Member, Cambodian Federation of Employers (CAMFEBA). They reflected on the significance of the workshop in raising awareness of SSE in the region, providing an opportunity for employers’ and workers’ organizations to learn about SSE through concrete case studies. They also shared their commitment to engage in social dialogue toward strengthening SSE in Asia and the Pacific region.

The participants expressed their gratitude to the organizers of the workshop, ILO, KoSEA and Underdogs. They also relayed their willingness to continue the exchanges with other participants beyond the workshop at the national and regional levels. They further expressed their interest in engaging in peer-to-peer learning exchanges with SSE stakeholders from other countries to share good practice examples. Lastly, they viewed this workshop as a unique opportunity to bring in the perspective of governments, workers’, and employers’ organizations into the SSE discussion in Asia and the Pacific region.

In follow up to the workshop, the ILO will be supporting activities at the national level toward helping move the national action plans forward. These national follow up initiatives include, but are not confined to contributing to the national dialogue on SSE through an E-Summit in the Philippines, and providing capacity building and training to support transgender community to form cooperatives in Indonesia.

The second phase of the project on Strengthening SSE Policy in Asia is expected to be launched later this year, which will expand the scope to six additional countries in Asia (Thailand, Vietnam, Mongolia, Kyrgyzstan, Laos and Cambodia).

The workshop programme, materials and a list of speakers and participants can be found here.

The workshop news is available in Korean, Japanese, Mandarin, Bahasa Indonesia and Malay.

The video recording of the workshop is available here.