Discovery of Social Economy Initiatives in Scotland
The overall objective of the project was to strengthen territorial vitality by ensuring the maintenance and strategic use of land and buildings by the community. The Chantier de l’économie sociale offered this study trip for government workers and players who work towards the development of the social economy in Quebec and Scotland. This overseas event made it possible to strengthen linkages promoting the transfer of best practices in terms of supporting the emergence, consolidation and development of projects by and for the community—in a priority fashion.
The process was led by Scotland’s International Social Enterprise Observatory (ISEO). It aimed to establish a forum for exchanges between social entrepreneurship players and their government partners to support the strengthening of social enterprise practices in Scotland through international exchanges.
The FNQLEDC’s First Nations Pole was chosen because the organization was looking for social economy representatives serving clients in remote regions.
What is the social economy?
The social economy is a series of economic activities with a social purpose carried out by enterprises whose activities particularly focus on the sale or exchange of goods or services while being operated in accordance with certain principles.
Quebec’s social economy at a glance
Quebec has more than 11,200 social economy enterprises (cooperatives, mutuals and NPOs with a trade component) that generate $47.8 billion in sales and provide employment for more than 220,000 people.
During this trip, Annick had various meetings with Scotland’s International Social Enterprise Observatory and Community Enterprise, among others. She traveled to Parliament in Edinburgh to discuss public policy and she also had the opportunity to travel to Campbeltown to meet with the Macrihanish Airbase Community Company and discuss their local development experience. This trip was followed by a seminar with the Highlands and Islands Enterprise to discuss rural economic development.
After a short train ride to Gigha, Annick met with the Isle of Gigha Heritage Trust. The purpose of this visit was to observe how to acquire old buildings such as former churches to transform them and make them into social economy enterprises.
She also shared with us that she found that there is a lot of wealth out there in terms of social economy enterprises, an impressive diversity to discover. The inhabitants are mobilized in a remarkable way in the development of collective projects with the aim of ensuring sustainability, well-being and social and economic stability. A sustained effort is essential to create jobs in order to support the growth of the country which, by the same token, fosters a just and equitable society.
Interesting Scottish statistics:
– 65% of social enterprises are run by women;
– 6,025 social enterprises are in operation;
– 55% qualify as social economy enterprises.
Annick returned from this wonderful trip with a better understanding of the environment. It allowed her to discover many local and rural initiatives. She enjoyed seeing and learning about basic values, such as mutual aid and sharing, which are reminiscent of First Nations values.
“People work together and develop projects based on the needs of the community. Their priorities are job creation and community development”, she told us.
Annick was able to share her experiences with ten people who were part of the Quebec-Scotland delegation from the following organizations: the Chantier de l’économie sociale, the First Nations Pole (FNQLEDC), the Pôle de la Côte-Nord, the Territoires innovants en économie sociale et solidaire (TIESS) organization, the Réseau d’investissement social du Québec (RISQ), the Réseau d’économie sociale en aménagement (ESSA) and the Quebec government’s Ministère de l’Économie et de l’Innovation (MEI).
In closing, note that the Scottish delegation will be visiting us next spring to learn more about social economy enterprise initiatives in Quebec. Thereafter, the obstacles, success factors and challenges related to transferring infrastructure and land deemed to be of collective interest to the community will be summarized, followed by a report featuring recommendations. All this information will of course be published.
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