8th ILO SSE Academy Sketch (1) - Roundtable on Innovative Eco-system for SSE public policies

Date of Publication: 
August 2017
Publication Type: 
Article/Policy paper

Discussion on Innovative Eco-systems for SSE public policies – a case of Quebec, Korea and Europe


Moderator: Laurence Kwark (GSEF)


Gianluca Salvatori (CEO, EURICSE)

Marguerite Mendell (Professor, Concordia Univ.)

Jungyeol Kim (Chair, Seoul Social Economy Policy Council)

Hyungbae Min (Mayor, Gwangju Gwangsan-Gu)

Discussion Participants: 

Shomi Kim – Global Green Growth Institute

Pascal Dufforestel - RTES

Ume Laila Azhar - Homenet Pakistan

Jinhwan Kim - C.I.T.I.E.S

Sudhir Satphthy - KIIT University

Ilcheong Yi - UNRISD 

Dara Hout - Phare


1. The effect of SSE on public policies in Quebec and the rest of Canada

(Marguerite Mendell) In the case of Quebec, stakeholders are actively involved in the building process of public policies, so they are bound to play a big role. In reality, the government and civil society have created numerous partnerships that further emphasize the importance of public policies. There are aspects of public policies that failed to be successful such as tax reliefs, ecosystems of SMEs, etc., but at the base level, various aspects have been horizontally organised. In Canada’s case, a partnership of stakeholders plays the most significant role. In the case of Montreal, SSE activists are invited by the civic sectors to discuss issues related to social innovation.

2. How do Europe’s multi-sectoral and diverse policies work?

(Gianluca Salvatori) In the case of Europe, there is a gap between citizens and organisation in the most troubled districts. For many years, the confidence in institutions has consistently been in decline, and the trust people placed on EU also followed the decline. Therefore, the most important thing is rebuilding this declining “trust,” especially at the grassroots and local level. Unless this is done, policies will continue to have an influence, but its effects will practically be null.


3. In Korea’s case, what are the benefits of “private-public partnership”?

(Jung-yeol Kim) The role that private actors play in the policy building process of Seoul city was vital. In the case of the central government, cooperative legislations or other special legislations have been enacted to create jobs for the underprivileged and to create long-term employment. However, it is difficult to see these events as having a big impact on economic democracy, innovation and overall developmental process yet. However, in the case of Seoul, although the process is not completely refined, the city still manages to put SSE, to a degree, by its innovation.

(Shomi Kim): In the Korean context, there are legal frameworks (social enterprise support legislation) that support newly formed social enterprises, but most of these enterprises focus solely on providing jobs for the underprivileged rather than focusing on the business model itself. As a result, there is a question to be asked on whether these legislations and policies are pro or con to social enterprises. Furthermore, what are some policies that can inspire social enterprises to focus more on building a strong business model in lieu of just providing jobs?


(Jungyeol Kim): Right now, there is a social enterprise called “Ridrik” that is certified. This case shows the push to change the framework for social enterprises so that social enterprises can be registered. If one were to explore the background of social enterprises in Korea, one could look at the employment-central nature of social enterprises, but, at the 10th year mark of the social enterprise's legislation, there are new movements to push for legally registering and certifying social enterprises. There are two sides to this legislation. For those who are suffering from long-term unemployment, employment in the social enterprise sector is more easily accessible, especially in comparison to the actual labour market. These methods are secured, especially through NPO, but for sustainable purposes, social enterprises jobs are taking the form of corporate methods. In this way, there is an interpretation that social enterprises are resolved for providing jobs for the underprivileged. There is a limitation in looking at legal framework only to analyse the situation, but now there are numerous options on adjusting the current legislation so that social enterprises can have room to be innovative. 

After 2009, I have been commissioned by Korea to write a report about the support act, and I stressed the necessity of making the support system more inclusive. In the case of Korea, numerous departments lack proper communication, and they share similar agendas in their businesses. Therefore, in relation to developmental processes, policies must understand the wide perspectives of social enterprises. There are also numerous conditional incentives, so ensuring that social enterprises can overcome restrictions to truly be incentivised is necessary.


(Gianluca Salvatori) In the case of Italy, the first social enterprise legislation was enacted in 1991. At the time, the only legislation in regards to SSE was on social cooperatives, and the concept of social enterprises was entirely foreign. As a result, the legal framework in Italy is based solely on the movement at the root of social agenda; the legislation reflected on the movements that were already in place. Therefore, there is the notion that legislations should manifest from the movements that are already in pursuit of proper development of social enterprises, rather than legislation being the cause of the movements that will develop social enterprises. This shows that legislations that reflect the current interests/movements can be more successful.


4. Gwangju’s experiences on SSE and local government consultative group and discussion on public policies

(Hyungbae Min) The problem with employment in Korea is that there is no legal framework which ensured that secure employment is sustainable work. Instead, employment in Korea is often thought of as short-term employment. This, in my opinion, is the root of various problems. Business models must be supported in a way that ensures employment is sustainable. Furthermore, it shouldn’t be stopped at the role that public policies have in developing SSE, and the role that SSE has in businesses to pursue short-term employment. On the one hand, there is a saying that there is less trust when you move away from the local government to the central government. And the bottom-top democratic structure must also be adapted to SSE. In the case of the local government, Gwangsan-gu adopted numerous efforts at both employments and business sectors to advocate for long-term employment. For instance, in the case of cleaning services, these services were commissioned into the SSE sector so that the service could become long-term jobs.


5. SSE network in each country: sharing the experiences of each continent

(Jungyeol Kim) In the case of Seoul City, network is consisted of new social enterprises, cooperatives, community enterprises, self-supportive enterprises. These are called newborn SSE organisations, and can be implemented at the departmental or legislative level. Out of 25 districts of Seoul, 19 have district-level networks. These local networks are divided by sectors and type of businesses (manufacturing, service, fair trade, etc.). The organisation that encompasses these local networks is known as “Seoul Social Economy Network.” This is a private-level network, and there is an even bigger umbrella organisation that brings together this network as well as Seoul Metropolitan’s SSE, called “Seoul SSE and Public Policy Council.” This council deals with each year’s SSE budget of Seoul. Prior to Mayor Wonsoon Park, the budget was managed only by the Seoul Metropolitan Government, but today, the private sector also plays a role in the budget-making process, and can consult directly with the council. In addition, based on ordinance, the ‘Seoul Metropolitan SSE Committee’ is formed, and Public Policy Council is deliberated by the committee and consulted with the parliament. This allows bottom-up methods to work.

(Gianluca Salvatori) In the case of Europe, civic, social organisations try to stay at the regional level and wish to organise themselves as small groups that offer specific services. These small groups have characteristic such as direct management, management ability and absorbing the ability of for-profits. Furthermore, there is movement in for-profit organisations to provide social services. However, in the case of networks, growing size does not mean a change in identity, but rather in the strengthening of competitiveness in innovation, education and capacity building businesses. Small organisations gathered to share functions and complement one another’s needs.

(Marguerite Mendell) There is the Quebec model. Besides SSE organisations, there are groups that focus on sustaining their regional identity. These groups put their focus on creating the network of networks, with the mission of systematising organisations that would represent their political interests. The interesting fact is that in Quebec, labour and social organisations have worked closely together, alongside women and environmental organisations. In Quebec, the representation of the industry and movement, as well as a dynamic youth movement are also organised as networks of networks. There were many difficulties in organising such networks, and these, in reality, took a long time to be fully arranged. Having a collective political voice, too, was of utmost interest.

Furthermore, strengthening the membership capability within the network of networks, and in doing so, including all involved sectors are vital. From the very beginning, there were numerous efforts made to resist an overly centralized institution, and serious efforts have been invested in organising local networks. SSE leaders in Montreal, unlike those in Seoul, did not have the necessary link to political and local-governmental organisations, and therefore, organisations focused instead on creating a network of networks that put its basis in the region. Furthermore, all these efforts ensured that these networks could be completely independent and far-removed from the government. As a result, these networks portrayed extreme flexibility and enabled the notion of being truly non-partisan, able to discuss, or lobby with any political party instead of favouring one.


6. Sharing experiences on local governmental networks

(Hyungbae Min) We created the “Association of Korean Local Governments for SSE” in the hopes that local municipalities will create solidarity. There is a difference between the kind of solidarity needed as a politician and the type needed for politics. These are need-based solidarities, but at the same time, some aspects of such solidarities are built as loopholes to get more support from the government. In the case of Gwangsan-gu, efforts have been made to decrease governmental involvement. Instead, “Gwangsan Community Support Centre” has been established, allowing individuals who seek support can receive it if they wish. There is a big difference in the structure of each organisation on rather it is operated as a grassroots democratic organisation or not.


7. In the case of Korea, networks exist amongst local municipalities. What is the status of the SSE network in France? The RETESS perspective?

(Pascal Dufforestel) In the case of France, networks are based on experiences and primarily for collective lobbying. For instance, in 2014, RETESS participated in the legislation process of the central government. As a result, 120 local governments and support organisations, civic organisations and other institutions can share their experiences without restrict.

(Sudhir Satphthy) In the case of India, the central government, local government and social entrepreneurs all have their own main agents. Bureaucracy exists amongst these organisations/institutes and departmental-level tasks operate under the command of the government only. In other words, there is no network. In the case of the civic sector, networks do exist, but they are at the hands of the individual. What India needs is an international network, such as the case of GSEF. Experts [in India] need advice on how to operate a successful network at the national level.

(Marguerite Mendel) In one instance, the UN has a leading group on social economy. It is not a network, but it can still have a great influence on people on the outside. In the case of RIPESS, it has successfully managed intercontinental network, and in the case of SSE International Forum (The Mont-Blanc Meetings), it can essentially be seen as a Davos Forum of social economy, so I am curious to see how such meetings can express one voice.

(Yi Ilcheong) Networks need a way to organise it into one sector, and to connect networks amongst networks. Even if one were to make networks at a specific sector, networks from other sectors are still very important and participation is even more important. Especially in reference to SDGs, it is important that no one is excluded and that all must participate. On one hand, although there is an active network at the regional level, if macroeconomics is passed on to a market economy, success cannot be guaranteed. Therefore, SSE stakeholders must make networks autonomously.

(Marguerite Mendel) Numerous local municipalities hold limited authority. This is due to its legal framework, and therefore, more flexibilities and responsibilities must be granted to these local municipalities, especially in regards to certain issues.

(Jinhwan Kim) If talking about experiences on establishment of partnership, I wish to talk about my experience in travelling to Nepal to start a coffee cooperative. At the time, I discussed the ways that cooperatives can aid the distribution of fair trade coffee and thus, underscoring the necessity of cooperatives. As such, cooperatives can be made when coffee workers feel the need of a cooperative, but this alone will not encourage the proper build-up that will motivate these workers to create a network. Continuing education on SSE and communication amongst workers must happen in order to encourage the autonomous establishment of networks.  

(Ume Laila Azhar) In the case of Pakistan, networks play an important role. This is because they play a significant role in the informal sector. Bangladesh played an important role too, especially in the context of creating a network for women. The next challenge is to cultivating small business women entrepreneurs. Our attempt to accomplish our next challenge is built on a 10-year plan. Currently, even if SMEs in this region acknowledge their social roles and goals, I do not think that they possess/understand the principles of SSE.


8. How can SMEs cultivate the principles of SSE?

(Marguerite Mendel) There are large-scale institutions that call themselves social enterprises. Big cooperative enterprises have a strong demand to incorporate the social and political state of affairs. In order to get practical results, the assistance of legislations is crucial. As a result, three provinces of Canada are working to pass such bills.

(Dara Hout) I am currently managing a social enterprise and overseeing the production of shows. Currently, in order to accomplish social missions, we are working as a LLC NGO that encompasses social values. In our case, there are 20 duties, 40 indexes, and seven principles in our contract that shows solid proof that Phare is a social enterprise.

(Gianluca Salvatori) In response to the question on Pakistan, I believe that there is no necessity for for-profit enterprises to cultivate trust and solidarity within the regional society. The entire world cannot function on SSE only.

Closing comments

(Jungyeol Kim) The purpose of SSE is prioritising “value.” However, the fact is that no matter how much one prioritises value, it alone cannot change the contemporary world. In the long-term perspective, efforts must be made in order to build an international network.

(Hyungbae Min) There is a serious lack of a foundational local municipality in which the social economy can lean on. If public policies aim to vitalise the social economy, there must be harmonisation at the national and local governmental level that will create an ecosystem where SSE can foster. It is impossible to create this ecosystem based on the nation’s unilateral-lead only. Currently, the National Assembly is putting enormous effort to pass three different legislations that will push for the cultivation of a civic-led (autonomous) movements.

* the discussion took place as part of the 8th ILO SSE academy plenary session on the 26th June in Seoul