Be part of the change / Master class
More and more, we are questioning the development model in our society, based mainly on economic growth and not taking into account the externalities, whether they be environmental (pollution) or social (poverty).
The recognition that this model is flawed has fostered the emergence of social movements to bring about change and action: laws, enterprises with social/environmental mission, citizen initiatives, community projects, etc.
In order to avoid the perpetuation of the current logic, we believe it is important to think critically about the various initiatives implemented and their underlying rationales.
The concepts explained below are adapted to the Quebec context. It’s important to understand that these concepts evolve differently according to province/country.
The Social Economy
The social economy is an international movement which aims to democratize the economy by giving more space and power to the consumers, the workers and more broadly to the communities operating within it.
In Quebec, it has been around since end of the 19th century, and has been acknowledged by a framework law in 2013. It encompasses all the activities and organisations stemming from the collective entrepreneurship sectors (Non-profits, COOPs, mutuals) which :
◆ combine a social mission and a market activity
◆ integrate democratic governance in their decision-making processes
Their goal is to first serve their members and the collectivity, and not to increase their capital.
The Sharing Economy
In the last few years, new players have emerged in our economic system. They’ve presented us with new ways of consumption (food, transportation, housing), new ways of production (Wikis, Fablabs, co-working space) and more widely, new ways of economic and financial interactions (local exchange systems, crowdfunding, alternative currencies).
This includes the sharing economy, collaborative economy, functionality economy, digital economy, commons economy, open data, or peer to peer system.
Some of us speak of it as a revolution, others see the same old economic practices with some technology thrown in.
Warning /!\ The enterprises surfing on the sharing economy wave do not necessarily have a social or a collective mission, nor a participative or cooperative operational system. As such, we can distinguish between the enterprises derived from the capitalist sharing economy versus the cooperative sharing economy by looking at their legal status, their ownership and governance model and their goals.
The Circular Economy
The traditional wealth production model is based on the destructions of resources :
Linear model : extraction → production → consumption → waste
The circular economy had been designed to counter the waste of raw materials and non-renewable energies, and to foster collaboration between complementary players. This economy is called “circular” because one of its goal is to recycle the waste into raw materials, therefore an important focus is put on the eco-design as well as on the production and the recycling strategies.
“ Production, exchange and consumption system, aiming to optimize the use of materials in every stage of a product or service lifecycle, while reducing environmental footprints and contributing to the well-being of individuals and collectivities.”Institut EDDEC
The Plural Economy
The plural economy refers to the 3 pillars of the economy. In order to have a balanced economy, it has to stand on 3 pillars:
◆ the private sector (responsible enterprises)
◆ the public sector (respected governments)
◆ the collective sector (recognized citizens and associative initiatives).
Collective Entrepreneurship (Social Economy Enterprise)
Collective entrepreneurship refers to enterprises that are collectively owned and where democratic management is implemented. Concretely, these enterprises are created by at least 3 entrepreneurs (5 in some cases) but they are not the property of the founders- they belong to the community, its members. The management (including the decision-making process) is defined in the general regulations.
The possible legal status:
◆ Cooperative (of workers, solidarity, of users or consumers, of producers, of shareholding workers)
◆ Non-for-profit legal person (non profit organisation – NPO) with market activity
Collective enterprises have to respect specific principles and operating rules (explained in our Cartoon “Say Whaat?”)
1° MEET A NEED (SOCIAL, ENVIRONMENTAL, CULTURAL) episode 1
2° MANAGERIAL AUTONOMY episode 2
3° COLLECTIVE OWNERSHIP AND DECISION PROCESS episode 3
4° PROFITABILITY episode 4
5° SURPLUS REDISTRIBUTION episode 5
Social Entrepreneurship (Social Entreprise)
Currently, there is discussion within the social entrepreneur community to define guidelines which would allow to distinguish real social entrepreneurs from entrepreneurs riding on the “social-washing” wave. Unlike collective entrepreneurship, there are no norms/regulations/laws which frame the operations of these enterprises.
Nevertheless, we can compare social entrepreneurship:
IN ITS CONTENT, to collective entrepreneurship:
The mission (social, environmental, or cultural) is the core, the social entrepreneurs agree that making profit shouldn’t be the only goal.
IN ITS FORM, to traditional entrepreneurship:
As there is no proper legal status for the social enterprise, it can be registered as a:
◆ Joint stock company or for-profit corporation (Inc.)
◆ Sole proprietorship
Social Business (Yunus)
It’s within the Yunus Social Business (YSB), a lab/incubator/accelerator with locations in the Balkans, Brazil, Colombia, Haiti, India, Tunisia and Uganda, that social businesses are developed.
In the context of emerging economies, these enterprises are dedicated to address poverty issues while being financially self-sustainable. This model, implemented by Mohammad Yunus, shares similarities with social entrepreneurship, with the exception that the profits have to be reinvested in the enterprise in order to scale its impact.
Therefore, the social business is not linked to the idea to generate an individual profit, but rather a collective benefit, which allows people to stay focused on the resolution of social issues and the fight against poverty.
B Corp Certification (Enterprise certified B-Corp)
The B Corp Certification (also known as B Lab Certification) is:
◆ created by the international non-for-profit organisation: B Lab
◆ a private certification, not recognized by the State, issued to for-profit organisations (to not be confused with benefit corporation, a type of for-profit corporation entity, authorized by 30 states in the U.S.).
◆ based on a scoring system for “social and environmental performance”
◆ fee-based, between $500 and $50,000 per year according the revenues of the enterprise
In April 2016, there were 1704 B Corp certified enterprises in 130 fields of activity through 50 countries.
In order to make your own opinion about the advantages and disadvantages of this certification, learn more here.
A social innovation is a new way to meet a social need. This innovation should be creative and break away from what already exists. It can be a new idea, law, process, service, product or organisational model.
These innovations are new solutions that are designed collectively by the stakeholders, which ensures they integrate local and cultural context. The innovations are both social in their processes and in their results.
These social innovations are better able to meet the social needs in a sustainable manner than the existing solutions, and they are more easily implemented within the institution/organisation/community as they produce a benefit for the collectivity.
Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)
When we talk about CSR, we often reference management practices adopted by corporations. Obviously, the company has inherent economic and legal responsibilities, but its social responsibility remains “a set of voluntary measures”.
When an enterprise implements a CSR policy, that means an analysis of the stakeholders’ interests has been made. The stakeholders are directly or indirectly affected by the activities of the enterprises, and these effects can be positive or negative (called “externalities”). Amongst the stakeholders, we find: investors, community, employees, consumers, users, suppliers, etc. Naturally, the company will try to adopt practices that increase their positive impact while reducing their negative impact.
CSR remains the subject of much debate. It’s important to question the reasons for implementing this kind of policy within an enterprise. Is it “social-washing”, competitive mimicry, or good intentions? In any case, the necessity for creating a CSR policy demonstrates that the social impacts of a traditional enterprise’s activities are normally not taken into account.
Quebec passed a law in 2006, Law on sustainable development (in French), which presents a definition of sustainable development:
“ A development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. Sustainable development is based on a longterm approach which takes into account the inextricable nature of the environmental, social and economic dimensions of development activities.”
As such, the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, the promotion of the social economy, and the fight against poverty are all actions that meet the 3 goals of sustainable development, which are:
◆ Maintaining environmental integrity: to guarantee health and security and preserve the ecosystems;
◆ Ensuring social equality: to allow personal development, community development and respect for diversity;
◆ Targeting economic efficacy: to create an innovative and prosperous economy that is ecologically and socially responsible.
Ministère du Développement Durable, Environnement et Lutte contre les changement climatiques
Link between sustainable development and CSR: CSR is the complete or partial implementation of sustainable development by an enterprise (from 1 to 3 dimensions).
Here are some suggestions of blogs to better understand the current context as well as our pressing social and environmental challenges. Have a good read, you might get inspired!
Stanford social innovation review: SSIR
For the Latest in Community Change: Tamarack
The Centre for Community Organizations: COCO
Changing the way we change the world: Organization Unbound
Le magazine de l’économie sociale et solidaire au Québec : Echelle Humaine (podcast)
Le blog de l’action collective au Québec : Nous.blogue
Presse coopérative et indépendante : Journal Ensemble
Le média de l’économie positive et engagée : Novae.ca
Institut de recherche sans but lucratif indépendant et progressiste : IRIS
Projects (inspiration) :
Paix, amour et initiatives qui vont dans le bon sens : Les Suricates (France)
Our selection (in progress..)
ORH3102 : Entreprendre et gérer autrement : entreprises, économie et innovations sociales
De Lanaudière :
Sciences humaines : Profil Innovation sociale
The Social Economy Initiative (SEI) : Impact Internships
Here’s a selection of movies and documentaries, enjoy!
The Social Economy (definitions & examples) :