Social Economy refers to enterprises and organisations especially cooperative societies,mutual societies,associations, foundations and social enterprises which have as specificity the production of goods,services and knowledge along with their socio-economic objectives as well as the promotion of solidarity(practical definition adopted during the tripartite conference in Johannesburg in October 2009).
As such,Social Economy enterprises exist in various legal forms. On the contrary,all the entities registered under these legal frameworks do not necessarily fall under social economy. In order to be termed social economy organisations or enterprises,these entities must comply with the following conditions:
It shall place people and its social purpose before capital, which is translated by an autonomous,transparent and democratic participation which prioritises decision-making based on people and their contribution through work and services provided to the entity or predicated on the social goal rather than through their contributions to the share capital;
Implementation of results obtained from the economic activity,mainly in relation to the work done or the service or activity carried out by members and where need be, to the social goal of the entity;
Promotion of internal solidarity,volunteerism,affiliation and commitment to promote mutual assistance,self-sufficiency and local identity while taking into account people suffering from social exclusion and the creation of stable and decent jobs.
These Social Economy organisations and enterprises, through their activities, contribute in job and wealth creation,economic growth and poverty reduction. Considering that social economy organisations may differ from one another in terms of organisational form and approach,but also operate according to similar principles,there is a convergence of related notions such as: social economy,solidarity economy,popular economy and non-profit making organisation. In some countries,the term “third sector”is used by policy makers and professionals as synonyms to non profit-making sector or social economy.