The Social Economy and immigrants, refugees and cultural

The Social Economy and
immigrants, refugees and cultural
Metropolis Calgary March 2009
Annie McKitrick
Presentation agenda
• Introductions and agenda
• The Social Economy in Canada and
• A Perspective from British Columbia
• A Perspective from Manitoba and ICAN
• A Perspective from Québec
• The Co-operative Experience
• Summary
Goals for the Workshop
• Introduction of the Social Economy as an
innovative way of answering the question of
ethical wealth production and distribution in
• Highlighting the use of the Social Economy by
immigrants, refugees and cultural communities.
• Discussion of collaborative research regarding
ways in which the Social Economy has helped to
achieve successful integration by immigrants,
refugees and cultural communities.
The Canadian Social Economy
Research Partnerships Consists
• Six regional nodes and a national hub bringing together
community activists and academics from 79 universities
(Canadian and International) and 15 academic disciplines.
• Partnerships with 140 organizations.
• Funding for publications, international collaboration, graduate
student research, faculty time release for curriculum
development, web-based learning tools, public policy
development and conference presentations.
The Social Sciences & Humanities Research Council provided
funding over five years for the Hub and the regional nodes
CSEHub Organisation
• Immigrants and refugees face two major challenges: social
integration and economic security.
• Under-employment in low-paying, physically-demanding work can
further isolate newcomers to Canada.
• With limited resources, and the stress of finding enough employment
to meet the needs of their families, few immigrants have the time and
the energy to develop social networks beyond their immediate
families or ethno-cultural communities.
• Breaking the circle of isolated employment and lack of self-esteem
due to the underemployment is an important aspect of economic
What is meant by “Social
The best way to illustrate the Social
Economy is to use the example of the
group that manufactured the bags for the
2007 Metropolis conference in Toronto:
This was HAWEEN Enterprises Inc., a
social enterprise of the Somali Women's &
Children's Support Network.
Haween Enterprises Inc.
Haween Enterprise is a division of
the Somali Women and Children's
Support Network. The main goal
of Haween is to increase
employment opportunities and
work experience for both Somali
and other immigrant women,
through provision of services to
the textile industry, manufactures
and private companies. The social
support component of Haween
includes increasing
life skills,
leadership skills,
social networks, and
the capacity to integrate into
Canadian Society.
Another example: Malalay Afghan
Women’s Sewing and Crafts Cooperative
• Malalay is a grass-roots community economic development
enterprise started in 2003 by the Afghan community in partnership
with Immigrant Services Society of British Columbia.
• They now have a workshop and machines, and are developing as
well as marketing products.
• The women participate in weekly meetings about the business and
are supported by ESL classes, translation, childcare as they develop
leadership skills and begin to earn income.
• The women manage the business and collectively make decisions.
What is the Social
• Very prominent in Québec
• Sometimes referred as Community
Economic Development (CED) in
anglophone Canada
• Has strong European roots
• Known in some parts of the world as the
Social and Solidarity Economy
A Definition of the Social
The Social Economy consists of association-based economic initiatives founded on
values of:
Service to members of community rather than generating profits;
Autonomous management (not government or market controlled);
Democratic decision making;
Primacy of persons and work over capital;
Based on principles of participation, empowerment.
The Social Economy includes: social assets (housing, childcare, etc.) social enterprises
including co-operatives, credit unions, equity and debt capital for community
investment, social purpose businesses, community training and skills development,
integrated social and economic planning and capacity building and community
empowerment. The Social Economy is a continuum that goes from the one end of
totally voluntary organizations to the other end where the economic activity (social
enterprise) blurs the line with the private sector.
From the CCEDNet National Policy Council
Based on the definition from the Chantier de l’économie sociale
Other aspects of the Social
• The Social Economy is being created by
community organizations (co-operatives and
non-profits and social enterprises) that generate
both social and economic benefits, bringing
entrepreneurship and social goals together in
new forms of social innovation.
• Not a substitute for social programs or a quick
fix for cutbacks in community services, but a
long term strategy for development of
community social and economic self sufficiency.
Key Definitional Indicators
•Service to Comm unity / Prim acy of persons over profit
•Civic Engage ment / Active Citizenry / Volunteer Association
•Social and Economi c values and mi ssion
Characteristics / Structure:
•Profit (re)distribution
•Autonomous Management / Coll ective ownership
•Democratic governance and decision-making
• Third sectorΣ / Self-governing Sector
1. Service to Community / Primacy of persons over profit – provides
goods and services for the public interest or to members, not a tool
in the service of capital investment
2. Empowerment – transformation of individuals or communities, to
become more invested with power and authority however defined.
3. Civic Engagement / Active Citizenry / Volunteer Association –
concept of investing (non-monetarily) and active participation in
one’s community.
4. Social and Economic values and mission – the set of values and
overarching mission of Social Economy acteurs and organizations
are both social and economic in scope.
Characteristics / Structure:
5. Profit (re)distribution – limited or prohibited distribution of profits to
members or invested back into the business, limited return on capital, not
publicly-traded or available for purchase in the sense of the capital economic
6. Autonomous Management / Collective ownership – self-management by
members or communities, no one individual holds ownership over the
7. Democratic governance and decision-making – refers theoretically to the
principle of “one member/person”, one vote (not “one share, one vote”).
8. “Third sector” / Self-governing Sector – a middle way that operates for the
most part operates between the public and private sectors, and is governed by
neither sector.
Approaches to the SE
• Reformist - Prioritizes market functions of
SE over social change.
• Transformative - Empowerment of
individuals and communities, and
collective enterprise/action focus
• Inclusive - Bridging concept for
organizations that have social objectives
and generate some economic value.
The Social Economy and
Immigrants/Refugees - Recent
• Funding has been made available for development of cooperatives by immigrants and refugees through the Cooperatives Development Initiative of the federal
• CCEDNet has taken the lead to form a network of
immigrants and refugees (ICAN) providing leadership in Coop and Social Enterprise development.
• A book on best practices in co-op development included a
chapter by Melanie Conn and Gulalai Habib who worked on
developing the Afghan Co-op in BC.
• The Manitoba provincial government is funding enterprise
development in immigrant/refugee communities.
• There are also a number of micro-loan programs and other
funders who are providing support and funds to the
settlement sector for development of enterprises.
Some challenges in moving toward the
development of SE organizations
• Settlement agencies are usually divided between
settlement and employment training /ESL departments.
Creating social enterprises or incubating co-operatives
does not fit in naturally within either department.
• Unlike typical employment programs, Social Economy
approaches do not fit in easily with the traditional fundingbased programs.
• Immigrants/refugees on social assistance face challenges
as they get involved in Social Economy organizations due
to the restrictions on earnings imposed.
• Practitioners must be trained and orientated to Social
Economy approaches and practices.
• There is potential for co-operative development among
immigrants and refugees but they must be supported
beyond the initial formation stages.
Promising Emerging
• The “entreprises d’insertion”
• Worker co-operatives
• Social Enterprises with close ties to
parent immigrant settlement
Key Research Questions
• What is the perception of immigrants, refugees and members
of cultural communities of the Social Economy (cooperatives, mutuals, social enterprises, not for profits)?
• What is their involvement in the Social Economy (as
volunteers, members, workers, users, entrepreneurs)?
• Are they using the Social Economy as a way to develop their
• Do they only see the market or the state as providing
• Are they able to use the Social Economy framework as
opportunities appear?
• Is social entrepreneurship present in the immigrant, refugees
and cultural communities’ population and to what extend?
Key Research Questions, con’t.
• What is the role that the Social Economy plays in the social, political
and economical integration of immigrants? What role could it play?
• What are the barriers to accessing information about Social Economy
resources by immigrants, refugees and members of cultural
• What is the role that mutual aid organizations have and are playing in
the settlement of immigrants, refugees and members of cultural
• What is the role of immigrant settlement agencies in Social Economy
• What public policies can play a role to facilitate the bridging between
the Social Economy and immigrants, refugees or members of cultural
• Do such policies exist in other countries that are receiving immigrants,
or refugees?
• Should public policies do more, and if so, what kind of programs could
be developed?
De Jean-Marc Fontan, ARUC/UQAM
Nous proposons la tenue d’une activité
spéciale lors du prochain colloque
Métropolis qui se tiendra à Montréal en
2010. Une activité qui se ferait
conjointement avec CCRPES et Métropolis
afin :
De sensibiliser les parties concernées à
l’importance de la recherche sur le thème de
l’économie sociale et des populations issues de
 De faire le point sur l’état d’avancement des
connaissances au niveau canadien et mondial
sur ce thème
For More Information, Please Visit: