The workshop called „Local employment, solidarity economy and social cooperatives” was organized on 10th January, 2013 by KIFESZ and ÉMORKA, which was focused on the current situation and future possibilities of the social and solidarity economy and the social cooperatives. The short introduction of the participants (35 people from 25 organisations) was followed by the discussion panel of the problems. It was cleared that there are basic conceptual misunderstandings and huge uncertainties regarding some issues.
Such as the relationship between solidarity and social economy, social economy and local economic development, social economy and social care as well as the judgment of social enterprises and public work. After the conceptual clarification dialogue – in which Pol Vidal (executive secretary of RIPESS EU) joined the conversation – the meeting continued with a discussion about the financial, legal and market background of the social cooperatives. In most of the comments it was mentioned that the currently existing social cooperatives are very weak, and in fact the sector is not on the market. There is absolutely no chance today that economically rationalized social cooperatives will appear, which the communities of underprivileged people are. At the same time there is a significant knowledge and information gap in the sector. The participants agreed that the social economy in Hungary is still in its infancy or development phase. These programs have had no valuable effect on the employment situation yet. However, several problems accumulated in the disadvantaged areas of the country that partly might be solved by initiatives related to social economy. Although any community initiative has unimaginable functioning without permanent assistance, trainings and mentoring. The chair women (Dr. Eva G. Fekete) emphasized that the social economy is more than dealing with disadvantaged people and employing them. These initiatives wish to impact the entire society; they are not aimed to target profit maximization, but rather focusing on the interests of the community and society. Based on the different opinions and comments three possible future scenarios and directions were set out for the future of the national social economy. The participants decided to name this professional forum and held it several times in the future. Thereby, the Social Economic Forum was established, which brings together the stakeholders of the local economic development and of the social and solidarity economy. The Forum would like to make recommendations to the next EU programming period (2014-20) to address these subjects. On the other hand, the Forum wants to ensure a platform of cooperation and common thinking for the different social, political and economic organisations. Eva Fekete KIFESZ