The Social and Solidarity Economy (SSE) is a multi-faceted alternative to traditional capitalism made up of coops, sustainability initiatives, gift economics, community organizations, fair trade projects and more. Around the world, there is a strong and growing solidarity movement, but in order for SSE initiatives to thrive, they need support. Municipalities are perfectly positioned to help grow the SSE and enhance the well-being of citizens because at the local level, citizen engagement is hands-on, elected officials work directly with their constituents, and initiatives can be created that deal directly with the unique needs and goals of a community.

Last week, Reliess, an international center for referencing and networking on public policies for the social and solidarity economy, hosted a webinar featuring Reliess coordinator Béatrice Alain discussing why municipalities should support SSE initiatives, how they can support them, and the positive impact SSEs can have on municipalities. Here are the key points.

Why should municipalities be interested in SSE initiatives?

SSE initiatives are rooted locally and allow communities to find answers to local issues. They are particularly important in underserved communities. SSEs provide ways for communities to join together to address their needs.

Among the SSE community, there’s an understanding that social, cultural and environmental impact is just as important as financial impact. They enable citizen engagement, create a sense of belonging and represent a good investment in the future.

How can SSE initiatives positively impact municipalities?

  • Access to local services including food coops, childcare and social services
  • Revitalization of urban neighborhoods
  • Access to health and homecare services
  • Natural resource development such as clean energy coops and ecotourism
  • Decreasing marginalization through community housing, employment initiatives and more

How Can Municipalities Support the SSE?

Financial Tools: Microcredit, the creation of funds managed by SSE organizations, grants, direct funding and more are all ways municipalities can lend financial support to SSEs.

Support to Target Populations: Public policy can support the integration of marginalized groups including youth, women, immigrants, homeless people or First Nations.

Sectoral Measures: There are SSEs in a number of sectors. Municipalities can create initiatives that connect and support existing SSEs across these sectors.

Public Procurement : An important tool for supporting and growing the SSE, public procurement integrates sustainable development principles into municipal organizations and allows governments to “incite purchasers and suppliers to consider social or environmental results alongside economic performance.”

Importance of SSE Development Structures

Existing at the municipal, regional and national level, SSE development structures, including networks and community structures, recognize the importance of SSE initiatives in economic development and facilitate communication between SSE organizations and governments.

Watch the webinar

Download the slides from the webinar


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Cat Johnson


Cat Johnson | |

Cat Johnson is a writer and content strategist focused on coworking, collaboration and community. She's the author of Coworking Out Loud, a guide to content marketing for coworking space operators. Publications include Yes!