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© Vassilis Kokkinidis / WWF Greece

We must underline the great value of social economy not only as a response to the economic crisis or a substitute to a consistently self-contradicting state but also as a counter-argument to the economic model that regards entrepreneurship as an exclusively profit-oriented activity frequently employing questionable and/or unsustainable practices. Social economy has been flourishing in Europe for decades. Now belatedly developing in Greece, it provides consumers with quality primary commodities and services at accessible prices, or even at no monetary price, with the added value of social benefit.

Reforms for a living social economy

The necessary institutional and political reforms to boost social economy are:

  • extending the institutionally recognized definition of social economy to include fields of entrepreneurial activity that are currently monopolized by the private sector, such as waste management and energy;
  • establishing barter schemes as voluntary and non-profit;
  • immediately reinstating tax incentives for social enterprises;
  • immediately establishing and putting into operation a Social Economy Fund to provide start-up funding to social enterprises, always abiding by clear, simple and equitable rules of proper and transparent operation and public accountability;
  • channeling funds from the European Investment Bank to social enterprise development in each of the priority sectors: small and medium enterprises, regional development,
  • climate action, urban and natural environment, innovation, trans-European networks, transport and energy.

Nevertheless, the most important lever for the development of a social economy is self-organization in networks:

  • creating interconnections based on theme or location in order to jointly plan actions and formulate demands;
  • networking using open source software, particularly in the cases of barter and give-away networks;
  • cooperating with the local government in joint action planning;
  • creating synergies with academic and local government bodies to promote modern organization methods and innovative business ideas and to create non-profit hatcheries of social entrepreneurship.

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