The SSE Momentum: Finance for Inclusion and the Future of Work

The international conference brought together around 100 participants to discuss the role of the social and solidarity economy (SSE) and supporting financial mechanisms in promoting decent work and sustainable development.

News | 27 November 2019
Participants at the Conference
The ILO organized the SSE Momentum conference in Trento, Italy from 18 to 20 November 2019, in order to present the findings from two international research projects on SSE from 15 countries in four continents:

Marco Estanqueiro, Head of SSE Department of Luxembourg
The conference brought together over 100 participants including policy makers, researchers, practitioners, and UN agency officials who work on the SSE. The programme, the full reports of the two research projects, and other materials are available here.

After a greeting by Ms. Marina Mattarei, the President of the Trentino Federation of Cooperatives, the opening plenary took place at a facility of a winemaking cooperative Mezzacorona. Following the introduction by Mr. Roberto Di Meglio, Senior Specialist at the ILO COOP Unit, the opening remarks were delivered by Mr. Marco Estanqueiro, Head of SSE Department, Ministry of Labour, Employment and SSE (Luxembourg); and Mr. Mattia Gottardi, Councillor at Trento Province (Italy) on the importance of the SSE in balancing economic development and social and environmental sustainability. A message that was sent by Mr. Christophe Itier, the High Commissioner of the SSE and Social Innovation (France) to the meeting, was read out loud by the organizers to the participants.

Subsequently, Mr. Carlo Borzaga, Chair of Euricse and Professor at the Faculty of Economics in the University of Trento, and Ms. Benedicte Fonteneau, Research Expert at HIVA-KU Leuven contributed keynote presentations. Mr. Borzaga highlighted specificities of SSE organizations (SSEOs), namely the socially oriented aim, democratic ownership and governance, cooperative distribution of costs and benefits, and restrictions on profit distribution to avoid mission drift. He emphasized the need for public policies that recognize these specificities including incentive systems such as exemption from corporate tax on non-distributed profits, incentives for investors, reserved tenders and procurement procedures. Ms. Fonteneau presented the contribution of SSEOs to the future of work, particularly in employment creation and formalization and social protection in the informal economy. She also reflected on financial schemes that support such SSEOs.

From left to right Aminata Tooli Fall, Jürgen Schettmann, Valentina Verze and Benjamin Quinones JR
The second day of the conference focused on key elements of the SSE ecosystem and the relevance of SSEOs to the decent work agenda. Ms. Kerryn Krige, Chief Technical Adviser at ILO Pretoria on the Social Economy Policy in South Africa, joined a plenary session on key drivers and trends moderated by Mr. Guy Tchami from ILO COOP Unit. She emphasized the importance of the bottom-up and participatory approach in policy-making processes related to the SSE and of the trust between communities and governments. Ms. Valentina Verze at ILO COOP Unit facilitated a parallel session on the transition from the informal to the formal economy. Based on the presentations on the international trends and cases of the Cooperative Federation of Horticulture Actors of Senegal (CFAHS) and the Payoga-Kapatagan Multipurpose Cooperative in the Philippines, participants identified key policy recommendations in working groups.

The third day focused on financial mechanisms that support SSEOs. Mr. Craig Churchill, Head of ILO Social Finance Unit, presented on the financing challenges for social enterprises as part of the SSE. He reflected on the financing options for social enterprises at different development stages. He indicated the need for a clear regulatory framework that defines SSEOs eligible for pubic financial support. Subsequently, Ms. Valerie Breda moderated a parallel session on debit instruments and guarantees that highlighted cases of Buzinezzclub in the Netherlands and social cooperatives and enterprises in the Republic of Korea. The sessions concluded with a convergence of opinions around the need for financial resources for SSEOs to be made available considering their specificities like their social and community focus, democratic governance, and the limits put on the distribution of profits and assets.

Craig Churchill, Head, Social Finance, ILO
The conference was concluded by a high-level panel discussion moderated by Mr. Vic Van Vuuren, the Head of the ILO Enterprises Department. The participants in the high-level panel included Mr. Marco Estanqueiro, Head of SSE Department, Ministry of Labour, Employment and SSE (Luxembourg); Mr. Gilles Mirieu de Labarre, Deputy High Commissioner at the High Commission for SSE and Social Innovation (France); Ms. Ramona Petraviča, Minister for Welfare (Latvia); Mr. Francesco Marsico, Chief of the Cabinet of the Vice Minister of Labour and Social Policy (Italy); and Ms. Naouel Jabbes, Advisor of the Ministry of Agriculture (Tunisia). The panellists shared the current policies and initiatives on the SSE in their respective countries and confirmed the need for further development of the SSE ecosystem including through legal frameworks, statistical standards and data collection, financing mechanisms and capacity building.

Draft recommendations for policy and research from the two research projects are available here. They will be revised based on the inputs received from the conference participants and made available on the conference website.