The International action sector team of SOS GROUP is a key contributor to the OECD Global Action Promoting Social & Solidarity Economy Ecosystems program. In 2020, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) launched this initiative founded by the EU to promote the Social and Solidarity Economy (SSE) around the globe. It involves more than 30 countries (EU member states and non-EU members) for a three-year period to tackle scaling challenges that SSE actors face when they grow internationally.
The Conference: from the margins to the mainstream
The first international Conference “The Social and Solidarity Economy : From the Margins to the Mainstream” of the OECD Global action took place from Sept 13th – 16th. We willingly attended this major virtual event during which the preliminary findings of the PLPs were shared with hundreds of SSE experts all around the world, including institutional donors and policy makers.
A promising initiative that SOS GROUP is proud to be part of
To work efficiently, the Global Action initiative is divided in six Peer Learning Partnerships (PLPs). Each of them is working as a consortium on a dedicated topic. SOS GROUP is proud to be part of the third PLP called “Global action to promote the internationalisation of SSE organisations and the role of women in the SSE”. This consortium is led by the world’s largest entrepreneurial network, Impact Hub, and it gathers 23 actors of the ecosystem of the SSE from 11 countries. It is subdivided in 3 groups and SOS GROUP focuses its expertise on Group 3 : identifying how women’s perspectives can be brought into SSE for internationalization processes.
The benefits of the Peer Learning Partnership method
The PLP approach is unique because of the learning process it creates through three key elements:
- Assessment : identifying, evaluating and exchanging/disseminating good practices , tools and plans amongst network partners
- Benchmarking : documenting, monitoring and validating good practices and testing their transferability to other contexts
- Mutual learning: improving the quality, efficiency and impact of policies designed and implemented by a diversity of partners.
This method helps making a frame that will be used to support SSE businesses to grow simultaneously internationally and in equality.
As PLP brings together different territories, we were confronted to a challenge to establish flexible concepts that can be implemented on a local scale in different countries and regions of the world. As Andre Maciel, the Program Manager (Impact Hub) in charge, said “these concepts have different meanings in different regions and so, we should consider broader definitions to include the different realities and approaches to the Social and Solidarity sector”.
What we have learned so far in our PLP:
Based on working sessions studying special cases such as the women-only social Network “Sheroes”, here are some of the key findings and learning points we’ve come across so far :
- Women-led initiatives give more guarantee that women perspectives are core to the social enterprise’s mission.
- Even though each woman around the world is unique and has a different career path, the endeavour to thrive together through empowerment and women solidarity strengthens the resilience of SSE actors in internationalization processes.
- Financial sustainability is essential and it comes through the diversification of funding streams.
- The SSE needs to be made as and perceived as an inclusive space where gender equality can be accomplished through removing the barriers with the help of innovative policy work.
Thanks to SOS GROUP’s recent commitment at the Generation Equality Forum to increase women inclusion in tech and innovation, we have had a lot to offer to this PLP and we were able to gain precious insights for the implementation of our own programs and internationalization process.
Few takeaways from the conference :
- The social economy is a driving model for change:
The pandemic has shown that SSE has proven resilient and organizations are capable of reinventing themselves. Core values such as solidarity, equity, sustainability are crucial to face our contemporary global issues. They also rely on a general trust system that enables networks of collaboration at different levels to thrive.
- Collaborative policy and legal framework is essential:
There is a crucial need to build an ecosystem where the SSE and the institutions trustfully collaborate. The legal system has to help making existing markets inclusive and equal for all. Social entrepreneurs have shown they have the recipe for the reshaping of the economy to come, so we have to put them at the centre of the tailoring of the policies to enable public institutions to foster their initiatives and help them flourish.
As for now …
We are looking forward to seeing where this major initiative led by the OECD is leading us in the challenge of supporting women-led and internationally-scaling SSE businesses. The next steps of the initiative is to build strong legal frameworks that will be useful for impact-focused businesses and then to provide feedback of the stories of women– led businesses that have internationally-scaled successfully. The diversity of actors and initiatives making SOS GROUP is certainly an innovation lab in itself and we won’t fail to use it for the common good.
-By Shabbaz NOC, Communications Officer at SOS GROUP International Action