Social Economy: An Opportunity for First Nations Young People
Social economy groups together all the economic activities with a view to meeting the responsibility of a social mission and contributing to the general interest. It is not focused on financial profitability, but on the benefits it brings to the collectivity. Social economy enterprises offer products and services in innovative sectors, and as diverse as those offered in traditional enterprises.
Social economy is a form of economy separate from market or public economy. It aims to reconcile economic activity with social contribution through the promotion of values, such as democracy and autonomy, improvement of the quality of life for the population, social and professional inclusion of individuals, job creation and increased social profitability (social solidarity, community mobilization, access to proximity services, etc.).
What exactly is a social economy enterprise?
Habitually social economy enterprises come in the form of coops, mutual associations or non-profit organizations. They operate in different sectors, for example in an early childhood centre, a housing cooperative, a home care enterprise, a recreational organization or a financial institution.
A social economy enterprise strives to be an enterprise managed by its members or its community. It sells a product or a service, while addressing the needs of the society in which it evolves. In this sense, social economy enterprises are well rooted in their environment, because they meet the needs identified locally. It is therefore crucial to be able to find the perfect balance between the pursuit of the enterprise mission and the responsibility of economic imperatives.
In choosing to become a collective entrepreneur (or of social economy), it means choosing to respond to a social mission and provoke a change in one’s community. It also means making sure collective aspirations are carried forward. In summary, it means making the choice to “do things together”.
Social economy in Aboriginal and First Nations setting
Historically, solidarity, cooperation, sharing, autonomy and respect for the territory have been fundamental values for Aboriginal and First Nations People. In this sense, we can consider that they have been practicing “social economy” for time immemorial. This approach provides First Nations with a format development where their culture and their identity are the anchoring elements towards achieving the development objectives of the communities.
It is part of a context where socio-community development finds its source in an initiative focusing on democracy, cooperation (partnership), creativity and First Nations’ take-over.
“A social economy enterprise is particularly appropriate to foster the take-over of the economic development of First Nations communities. There is nothing better than a person that comes from the same background to understand and respond to the needs of this setting”, Mickel Robertson, Director General of the First Nations of Quebec and Labrador Economic Development Commission (FNQLEDC).
Letting the way for the new generation
Social economy is letting the way for the new generation by encouraging participatory management and the sharing of expertise, and also by proposing new professional challenges to the young people.
Social economy enterprises provide opportunities for the youth to get involved and contribute toward building societies that resemble themselves. Young people can therefore contribute to their community by developing enterprises, by getting involved as decision-makers and by sharing their expertise upon completion of their education or traineeships.
Involving First Nations youth in social economy constitutes a lever for value creation: economic, social and cultural. This initiative provides First Nations young people the possibility to return to “doing things together” and participate in the local governance of their community “Empowering our young people, it also means allowing them to create enterprises, which, together with the 11 200 enterprises of social economy in Quebec, contribute to the economic and social vitality of their communities”, explains Béatrice Alain, Director General of the Chantier de l’économie sociale.
Are you interested in the social economy and would you like to start a collective enterprise? Do not hesitate to contact our team!