September Update – Initiatives of Social and Solidarity Economy: the state of the art

1st meeting around table

I.S.S.E. is a special project, indeed. It gathers committed partners (see their description in the web of the project) and people that matured experiences in the field of Social and Solidarity Economy, but that feel that still it is needed to build a common ground and promote new tools in order to make steps forward for an “alternative economic sector”, or better, for an “alternative way of living” (depending on the point of view).

The project designed at the beginning a clear pathway, but now experts working on the ground face all the difficulties that real geography presents when we compare it to maps.

During these months, a working group of researchers, led by XES (Spain), has carried on a Research about Social and Solidarity Economy. The Research has been implemented through the work in five countries on literature, focus groups and bibliography, dealing with the notions and characteristics of SSE in the different contexts and starting to work on the competences needed for improving training in SSE. The Research is almost finished and it will be translated soon. Its results will be announced in autumn, keep tuned.

The focus on needed competences is leading now to the start of the second phase (or intellectual output) of the project: the creation of a Portfolio of Competences in Social and Solidarity Economy, which will be coordinated by Kaleido’scop (France). Here the main challenges for the working group will be to find a comprehensive definition of what is a competence in action, to give coherence to different needs (coming from different contexts) for the SSE competences development and to create a practical and useful format for a Portfolio of the SSE competences.

This is where we are now, in September 2015. The work on Training Modules and Virtual Game on SSE is waiting for the developments of these two first phases and will start in next months. In December there will be an intermediate meeting in Athens, aimed to check what has been done and to prepare the ground for the next steps in 2016.

We will update you in this Web about all our work and production!

Davide Tonon: Project Manager / Nexes

Research Update

Research – the collection of data for the research, which comprised of both desktop research into the social and solidarity economy of each country and information gathered from focus groups, is now complete. Our partner XES based in Barcelona has been tasked with compiling the results into a document.

We knew at the beginning when the original proposal was submitted to the Erasmus+ programme there would be a difference between the partner countries but it was the similarities that brought us together and the research has demonstrated the similarities and some differences.

Without pre-empting the results I noted a difference within my discussions with members of the research team in how the different countries perceived there place within their economies;

Within the UK (which is my perspective) Social Enterprise, which is how it’s referred to in the UK, is integrated and well supported alongside mainstream capitalism. Social Enterprise in the UK does not seek to oppose capitalism but works happily alongside. The government has embraced the social element and actively supports business at a local and national level.

In Italy SSE appears to be outside of the normal economy. Business’s often have the feeling of being a small fragmented sector that is isolated from the main economy. They also work in isolation to other SSE businesses.

Spain was different again and cooperation between businesses was a consistent theme with business strong in the area of social action. The promotion of SSE over a capitalist economy is high on the agenda of SSE businesses.

France was in the middle between the UK and Spain. SSE is supported within legislation and sits alongside Capitalism but SSE businesses are more active in promoting SSE as an alternative to capitalism.

Greece has a different experience born out of austerity over the last 5 years or so. It is very much a bottom up experience and is viewed by many as a sustainable way of doing business in contrast to capitalism. It is people and needs driven rather than from the ideological standpoint of other countries.

The focus group in Spain noted that some terminology often associated with SSE, such as, entrepreneurial, had lost its meaning – this is perhaps true of countries with a longer history of SSE. The bottom up approach is perhaps lost in the past of some countries and reflects in how they perceive the place of SSE within their economy.

These are my initial impressions and not necessarily the views of the partnership. It is not the differences that unite us but the similarities and a shared mutual respect.

Common themes identified were ethical practice, sustainability, cooperation and a people centred approach, which all partners agreed were common to SSE practice in all of the countries.

Charlie Lockyer (Consilium Education and Training).

Research – Introduction

Research document_front_page_green

The purpose of this research, which is the starting point for all the partnership activities, is to explore the main characteristics of SSE (Social Solidarity Economy). Identifying the characteristics common across Europe and the specific characteristics within the participating countries, France, Greece, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom.

  • Identify the main characteristics in relation to organisation structure and legal framework, recognizing the specific differences between countries.
  • Analyse the subjective dynamics that support SSE projects. With specific focus on the recognition of values, abilities, knowledge and attitudes.
  • Identify existing education and training opportunities that support SSE as well as the underlying competencies and training needs framework within which they operate.
  • Contribute to the continued development of SSE, providing opportunities for networking and sharing SSE experiences.

The research will start as a Desk based exercise. This will be followed by the development of Focus Groups to define and test the findings. Focus groups will also contribute to the development of a practical and relevant portfolio of competencies suitable for SSE.

The partner responsible for coordinating the research is Xarxa d’Economia Solidària (XES) from Barcelona, Spain.

Training Manual – Introduction

Training 1

The training manual will be the third of the partnerships activities. It will consist of a range of modules with specific focused activities targeted to the development of the underlying knowledge, skills, attitudes and values identified within the research and developed within the portfolio of competencies. Continue reading

Portfolio of Competencies – Introduction

portfolio 1

This is the second of the partnerships activities – Building on the research a Portfolio consisting of a framework of Competencies (identified, knowledge, skills, attitudes and values) grouped within key thematic areas. Continue reading

Virtual Game – Introduction

Game 1

Under Construction – This game will combine education with entertainment “EDUTAINMENT” + learning. The principle is learning by doing.




This game is not just for entertainment it is a serious game. It will combine content and theory, informed from the research, with game design. It will facilitate understanding, encourage active exploration and allow experimentation without risk.

Although it will be self-contained Its primary purpose will be as a tool to be used with facilitation and feedback within the training modules.

Follow the link for an overview of the games proposed design.

The mechanics of the game will be produced with the help of Idealudica a specialist Game company. Nexus, from Barcelona will oversee the content and the games development.

Final Event / Seminar – Introduction

event 1

This will be the last activity of the partnership. It will be coordinated by Kaléido’Scop and supported by MIFE and University Jean Monnet.

It is planned to take place in St Etienne, France in November 2016. Continue reading

Kick off meeting – Barcelona 25th – 29th January 2015


Getting to know each other

Although some of the partners had previously worked together not all had. This meeting provided an opportunity for us all to get to know each other and to find out about the different organisations represented.

1st meeting around table

The key factor within all but one of the organisations is training. Eight of the nine organisations are actively developing and providing training opportunities as part of their work. XES are different. They are a Social Solidarity Economy network consisting of organisations and businesses operating in and around Barcelona. Continue reading

Partnership definition – What is the Social Solidarity Economy?


The Social and Solidarity Economy SSE (also known as Social Enterprise in the UK):

SSE is a social movement aimed at promoting an economy organised collectively to satisfy people’s needs in their multiple dimensions (including care and social participation) and places cooperation and mutual respect above individual profit.

It is comprised of a wide variety of socioeconomic practices based upon a cooperative, democratic and transparent structure of fair governance that respects the rights and interests of all. SSE organisations act with social and environmental responsibility, as such, their activities, products and services have a strong social and environmental commitment. Its practices are developed mainly at a local level with a global perspective.

As a social movement SSE promotes an economy made with and by the people, as such, engagement of citizens and collaboration between related groups are crucial to foster this change in economic practice. It requires working together in three key areas: the creation of viable alternative economic practices, the active promotion and engagement with public institutions and the defence of existing economic rights.