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A guide to SSE entrepreneurship from a gender perspective

Article by Ripess Intercontinental, November 2019

Quartiers du Monde (QDM) publishes the guide “Accompanying social and solidarity entrepreneurship with a gender perspective”. The purpose of this document is to provide tools for alternative entrepreneurship for women’s socio-economic autonomy.

Quartiers du Monde (QDM), a French international solidarity NGO and member of RIPESS “Women and SSE” working group, publishes the guide “Accompanying social and solidarity entrepreneurship with a gender perspective“. The guide proposes tools to entrepreneurship differently and reach the women socio-economic autonomy. This guide is the product of a co-construction between organizations from Latin America, Africa and France.

Why do women pay more attention to others than they receive? The profound inequality in the use of the time that mark our societies must challenge us all. It should be noted that women’s time is still considered an inexhaustible resource, an adjustment variable between the irreconcilable logics of the market economy and life.

It is therefore essential to reflect on how to build other ways of doing business, based on the thinking of women involved in Social Solidarity Economy (SSE) companies. Thus, this guide was created on the basis of the South-South-North network program “Women of the World: A Network of Women Entrepreneurs in Solidarity” and is based on two pillars: SSE and the gender perspective (GP). This orientation is intended to respond to the observation that the registration of an activity in the SSE field is not sufficient to promote equality between women and men despite the values established within the SSE.

Thus, by integrating SSE within a gender perspective, this guide follows a conceptual approach and a method of intervention that aims at real equality between women and men to counter the effects of certain initiatives through gender mainstreaming, in order to transform the gender inequality generated by patriarchal and neoliberal systems in the world.

Goals and objectives

The guide ” Accompanying social and solidarity entrepreneurship with a gender perspective ” provides training and reinforcement of the linguistic skills that accompany any social and solidarity entrepreneurial initiative in a facilitator’s gender perspective. As well as a collective reflection on the issues addressed, which places women entrepreneurs as protagonists in each stage of their business initiatives, from creation to consolidation.

The guide also enables entrepreneurs to make decisions based on their territory, giving them a viable financial vision and social justice, working towards transforming women’s economic activities into viable business initiatives and creating collective wealth.

The main objectives, as presented at a RIPESS Women and SSE Group webinar in late 2017, are:

  • Empower and strengthen the facilitators’ capacities and groups and networks leaders to support social and solidarity entrepreneurship with a gender perspective.
  • Empower and strengthen women’s capacities within collectives with income-generating activities and SSE initiatives with gender perspective.
  • Contribute to the strengthening and transformation of women’s economic activities towards viable entrepreneurial initiatives that create collective wealth.

It has 4 main sections:

  1. Introduction to the plural economy
  2. Entrepreneurship Preparation
  3. Steps to develop an SSE entrepreneurial initiative with a gender perspective
  4. Additional information and tools

And each section includes dynamic proposals, descriptive content, real examples, as well as exercises and various other additional materials in the form of videos, fact sheets, etc.

The guide can be used by different groups, women or mixed, cooperatives, social organizations, etc., and can be implemented with other methods that accompany the creation of social solidarity entrepreneurship, as its contribution focuses on the women and men’s transformation.

Finally, it should be kept in mind that it is a guide and it can -and should be- adapted to each context, as it provides a solid basis for the evolution and support of processes when creating justice and equality in neighborhoods and communities.

Facilitators who use these resources encourage discussion, reflection and planning to promote a more inclusive, fair and equal SSE between women and men, so the most important thing is this fact.

The process of reflection and work behind the development of the guide

The guide is the result of a sixty-month process of reflection and learning. During this period, nine women’s associations and ten women leaders – present in working-class neighborhoods in Latin America, East Africa and Northern France – worked to integrate the gender perspective into SSE using various tools.

The advisors, the program’s international coordination and the facilitators met during five formative face-to-face meetings (in Bolivia 2017 and 2013, Morocco in 2014, Colombia in 2015, Paris in 2016).

In addition, they contacted each other virtually, through the network forum and a webinar platform, to discuss the tools’ application, the relevance and response of women, and to systematize learning. The resources were co-constructed by all stakeholders, and the associations made a cultural adaptation and translated into their original languages.

RIPESS and Quartiers du Monde join forces around the guide

In 2018, a pilot training based on the guide was carried out in Mali, within the SSE network, RENAPESS.

This experience led to an idea for a joint project between RIPESS and Quartiers du Monde, which is currently being developed. The central idea would be the formation of pilot RIPESS SSE networks in the gender approach of various countries and continents. This project would include the application of the knowledge and skills acquired in the operation of the networks themselves, in their activities to support collectives, and in their advocacy work on SSE and gender. Without forgetting the convergence with other movements of transformative economies around the subject thanks to the visions and skills acquired, echoing the current dynamic of convergences of transformative economies in which both RIPESS and Quartiers du Monde participate (World Social Forum of Transformative Economies)

A RIPESS pilot SE Learning Tour & Cross-training in the US

An article by Ripess International, November 8, 2019

This week, from November 8th to 11th, the RIPESS Education working group will pilot the Solidarity Economy Learning Tour & Cross-training hosted by Cooperation Jackson (US) with the participation of both local and international trainers from the US, Latin America and the Caribbean; Canada; Europe and Eastern Asia.

The aim is to allow an exchange of knowledge of Solidarity Economy (SE) trainers and work on the development of an SE curriculum. Both the format of the learning tour, based on visiting local SE practices, and the curriculum that is being developed will be available to other SE networks/initiatives to be used and adapted to their local contexts. The understanding of SE is about a way to change the current economic and social capitalist paradigm towards a more just and sustainable world.

During these four days, the participants will combine classroom learning to provide a grounding in the theory, practice and organizing strategies to build the solidarity economy with site visits to see and engage with real world solidarity economy practices.

Amongst the objectives, this project wants to pilot and co-develop a SE Curriculum, including materials, methodologies, and guidelines, and facilitated by SE educators from around the world, as well as Cooperation Jackson folks. And also, to connect and get to know each other and engage in a process of personal transformation: “to know ourselves in relationship to others – an understanding of ‘us’ and mutuality”.

By being a training of trainers, this gathering of trainers also aims to generate a dialogue, sharing and networking between trainers who are connected to the grassroots SE movements from all over the world. Taking a popular education approach, the participants will begin with the knowledge of the participants and understand that everyone is a teacher and learner.

This approach, which well aligned with SE in terms of its principles, foundations, and methods, is a process of analysis-looking for patterns, accessing new knowledge as needed, developing a strategy of action, implementing that action, then returning to a reflection of the experience, analysis, gathering new knowledge to transform the local and global economy to construct a new society based on justice, equality and love, and so forth. The goal of popular education is to engage in a continual process of reflection and action in order to achieve the transformation of reality through an economic, social and political liberation.

Cooperation Jackson, Mississippi (US)

The gathering of trainers is hosted by Cooperation Jackson a project that is igniting a lot of excitement in the U.S. as well as internationally as it is part of a broader vision to transform the local and regional economy and society through a political/electoral strategy, grassroots organizing through people’s assemblies, and building the SE through a cooperative network consisting of four interdependent institutions: a federation of local worker cooperatives, a cooperative incubator, a cooperative education and training center, and a cooperative bank or financial institution.

For these reasons, RIPESS’ education working group has decided to collaborate with Cooperation Jackson to organize this gathering of trainers and to start developing a Solidarity Economy Curriculum that can be used in the future by people from all around the world.

SE Education material available on Socioeco

The RIPESS Education working group has compiled a list of SE training material to be available to any person interested or working on SE and education. All the material can be found in Socioeco, the RIPESS’ resource center and we invite all trainers and SE networks to send new materials socioeco.org to be included in the section on SE training tool material or in the special map on pedagogical tools.

RIPESS will publish some updates during the gathering of trainers on our social media accounts Twitter and Facebook. So, stay tuned to follow the development of the SE Curriculum and all participants’ learnings during these four intense days.

Bergamo, a meeting of trainers, enriched by inspiring and joyful visits

By Josette Combes

The members of the Erasmus SSE IVET 2 (1) programme met in Bergamo from 14 to 18 October for a joint working week on the construction of a training of trainers module. This module is intended to transmit the fundamentals of the Social and Solidarity Economy within the initial and vocational training of the countries participating in this programme. The project began with a study phase on the presence and quality of SSE classes in initial and vocational training, which showed that they were most often absent.

Phase 2 of the programme is to design a module for transferring essential information to train trainers to be included in their curricula. At the end of the training, trainers should be familiar with SSE, its principles and values, but also its practices, understand the role that SSE can play in the local development of their community as a vehicle for change, see the future of the world of work in SSE, actively participate in a continuous and dynamic training process.

It is not only a question of transmitting content but also (and even more so) of proposing methodologies and postures that illustrate the positioning of the SSE with regard to basic values such as democracy at work, respect and welcoming everyone, the principle of cooperation and the synergy of skills.

The participants shared their materials based on a framework developed by Technet, Dock, and Solidarius, which also provided the welcome and entertainment.

The participatory process made it possible, on the basis of collective reflection, to collect the contributions of each participant, which will be reviewed and validated by the group. Thus, a tool was developed to support the observation of field experiences that the group had the privilege of meeting thanks to Solidarius’ proximity to the actors. The choice of Bergamo was motivated by the fact that the city and its region are rich in highly structured and networked experiences of solidarity economy.

We visited the Cooperativa Ruah, a recycling plant that employs people with integration difficulties, particularly migrants. A full day was devoted to visiting the IRIS cooperative, created in 1978 by a small group that wanted to promote quality agriculture and local consumption and then set up a processing plant to control the entire production chain. We met one of its founders, Maurizio Gritta, in a newly built, ultra-modern factory. He shared with us the history of the cooperative, which pragmatically organized its evolution while maintaining the essential principles that were at the origin of the original group of actors: not to poison the land, to create jobs, especially for women, to maintain a direct relationship with consumers, to maintain collective ownership of the means of production considered as a common. A central objective is also to ensure a fair price for the producer and consumer. By following, the visit to the farm made it possible to better understand the link between all the activities, particularly those that consist in raising awareness of the solidarity economy through interventions with children aged 7 to 11 in their schools, to ensure the future in a way.

After a delicious meal on the spot, we were in electronic contact with one of the Banca Etica officials who presented us with the differences that distinguish this bank from the traditional banking system, non-speculation, lending and specific support for people that the ordinary system rejects, transparency of governance, a much narrower range of salaries.

The evenings were an opportunity to enjoy the hospitality of equally cooperative places where we had our meals while getting to know people involved in the SSE: Circolino a cooperative restaurant located in the Citta Alta, after a short tour in this ancient and fortified part of the city. La Cooperativa Sociale Arete of organic agriculture, la Porta del Parco an agricultural complex located on the territory of the Municipality of Hub and at the gates of the Regional Park of Collines, composed of a vineyard, a green area that houses social and collective gardens and a structure used as a restaurant and point of sale for local and organic products.

Everywhere, we were able to appreciate not only the engagement of the actors in the development of social and ecological activities, but also the kindness, friendliness and cheerfulness that prevail in all these places and it must be said that it is comforting after days of intense work dedicated to the transmission of our common issue, social and solidarity economy.

(1) 1Technet /Germany, MES/ France, Dock / Greece, Solidarius / Italy, APDES/ Portugal, CRIES / Roumania, RIPESS EU

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