Social economy

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At the same time, in a similar effort to regain control over the local economy and to respond to collective and social needs, a new social economy started to develop in the old central districts of the city. Its first areas of development were to fulfill basic needs not covered by the public or the private sectors in the most impoverished neighbourhoods : housing, food, daycare services, legal aid, popular education, literacy training and socio-professional integration. Later on the social economy was seen as a genuine business development model and began to grow in a number of new “emerging” fields of activity: culture, tourism and leisure, environment, fair trade, services to the elderly, domestic maintenance, health services, alternate medias and new TIC, etc.

Essential characteristics of a social economy enterprise:

  • Production of goods or services socially or collectively useful;
  • Not controlled by government;
  • Democratic governance involving users and workers;
  • Pre-eminence of people and labour over capital;
  • Community roots, empowerment and accountability.

Montreal southwest social economy organisations: