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Solidarity Economy: Another economy IN SERVICE FOR LIFE is happening
Original version in Portuguese is available at: http://base.socioeco.org/docs/cartilha_fbes.pdf
Campanha da Fraternidade Ecumênica (Ecumenical Fraternity Campaign) 2010
Conselho Nacional de Igrejas Cristãs do Brasil (National Council of Christian Churches of Brazil) -
Brazilian Forum of Solidarity Economy - FBES
another economy IN SERVICE FOR LIFE is happening
another economy in service for life is happening
Text edited by: Ademar Bertucci, Claudia Lima, Daniel Tygel, Fernanda Nagem, Rizoneide
Amorim, Robson Patrocínio de Souza, Rosana Kirsch and Shirlei Silva.
Revised by: Divina Queiroz
English translation: Miguel Yasuyuki Hirota
Graphic design and illustrations: Engenho – support in communication
Number of copies:
The idea to publish a booklet for people specifically on solidarity economy came up after
dialogues between the Brazilian Forum of Solidarity Economy, the Cáritas Brasileira, the Instituto
Marista de Solidariedade and the Conselho Nacional de Igrejas Cristãs do Brasil - CONIC.
Dialogues was done within the framework to prepare for the Campanha da Fraternidade
Ecumênica (Ecumenical Fraternity Campaign, CFE) 2010 which will have “Economy and Life” as
theme and “You cannot serve God and mammon” (Matthew 6,24) as slogan. The booklet is part
of the whole series of materials of the EFC 2010 which will be distributed all over Brazil.
It’s born at a special moment, when the Campanha da Fraternidade Ecumênica brings the
chance for us to talk on Economy as something which makes part of our day-to-day life as life
The word “Economy” means “taking care of the house”. Then, when we talk about management
or caretaking of the house, we’re already practicing Economy. But about which “house” are we
talking? About our planet, our country, our state? About the neighbourhood where we live?
About our schools, theatres, movies, squares? All this is my house where I live with thousands
and millions of people.
This poses us another question: “in which way do I contribute for the well-being in my house, in
my neighbourhood, in my city and in all other spaces where I show my presence, I live and I
participate?”. We believe that the Solidarity Economy gives answers to these questions, or at
least a path to answer them!
Given the importance of the theme of the CFE 2010 “Economy and Life”, the Fórum Brasileiro de
Economia Solidária (Brazilian Forum of Solidarity Economy, FBES) took the initiative to edit this
booklet “Solidarity Economy: another economy in SERVICE FOR LIFE is happening”. This
booklet’s goal is to show what the Solidarity Economy in Brazil is, its basis, principles, struggles,
conquests and organisation in states and cities.
We hope that this material should be more than a study tool on solidarity economy, should get
published to facilitate our dialogue with other social movements and different players and
people of the society, and should contribute to think the economy in service for the
improvement of the life in all its dimensions.
Why another economy?
1.1 TO BEGIN OUR TALK...
When we talk about ECONOMY we’re dealing with those activities to produce, distribute,
commercialise and consume goods and services. The term economy comes from Greek, made
up of the words oikos (house) and nomos (habits or law). Then came its meaning as the
caretaking with the house, with the environment where people live. To take care means to
attend the needs of the house, in other words, those who make up for the house.
Despite that the origin of the term mentions a width of private life (of family, of the house), the
economy is a social activity, or it´s practiced in the society because it includes relationship which
is established among people of a community, of a country, of the world, our planet. Therefore,
we can understand the house in the broadest way: the place where we live, the environment
where we are with other people, with (economic, political, cultural, social) institutions and with
other beings of the nature.
We can understand better the meaning of the economy as the whole series of social activities or
ways to solve relationship between existing needs (of people and of human groups or societies)
and the available resources to satisfy them.
A way which became popular to ponder on the economy begins with the principle that needs
are many or unlimited while resources are few or limited. This means that the economy is lead
by the scarcity of the resources. Then came up the understanding that being economical
(economise) is to be efficient, in other words, to attend more for more needs with less resources,
which are scarce.
In some way it makes sense. We know, for instance, that the nature has limits and that it’s
necessary to take care of her so that the economic exploitation of the natural resources should
not be incompatible with the life of the planet and should not put jeopardise the life of present
and future generations.
The problem is that not always the available resources are enough to attend everybody’s needs,
exactly because they’re concentrated to the few. In this case, if you say that resources are scarce
for many people’s needs, you are only advocating a way to organise the economy of abundance
for the few.
Let’s understand better: the way adopted by people and economic, political and social
institutions to solve the relation between the satisfaction of needs and availability of resources
defines the ECONOMIC SYSTEMS. We’re talking about systems to organise production,
distribution and consumption of goods and services.
These economic systems are part of the day-to-day life of people, of nations and the whole
world. To explain it even better, if the economic system works to pile up the resources (goods,
wealth) to satisfy, above all, the needs of who already own them, it creates inequality among
people, among communities, among regions and countries. The pursuit for the accumulation of
wealth generates deaths, including in the wars which are always triggered by economic interests,
death done by famine, by diseases and by lack of knowledge.
This isn’t news because, with some few exceptions, the society in which we live works exactly this
1.2. THE ECONOMY TODAY IS SERVING FOR THE CAPITAL
In the CAPITALIST ECONOMIC SYSTEM economic activities are targeted to generate wealth to
be accumulated or appropriated by those who own goods, capital, resources and knowledge.
The capital’s base is the private property of goods, of resources and, what’s the most important
above others, of means and of factors of production: devices, enterprises, land property etc.
In the capitalist societies, those who have none of these resources can’t satisfy their basic needs
(food, house, protection, health, transportation, education, leisure...) and remain poor.
On top of that, those who have neither goods nor resources have to sell their capacity to work
to generate wealth. That’s why, most people only own their own WORKforce which is sold for
those who already have accumulated goods and wealth (the CAPITAL), in exchange for a salary.
Even so, most salaried workers can’t satisfy their fundamental needs with the income that they
get in the work. What’s worse is that sometimes they even don’t know how to exercise this
“freedom” or need to sale their workforce. So the unemployment means the condemnation to
the misery for millions of people.
The social inequality is a result of an economic system which is directed for the production of
wealth to be concentrated to those who already own capital (the capital) and to keep the social
inequality. They resort to their desire for profit, at any price. Poverty and misery are
consequences of this concentration of wealth for some, while most people can’t satisfy their
basic needs in a good manner. Poverty is to have no access to food, to house, to protection, to
health, to education… It doesn’t only mean to have no income (money).
Economic, social, political and cultural institutions which were conceived in this system
reproduce the social inequality. Conquests by pro-democracy movements are important
because they can trigger internal contradictions in these societies, with the warrant of the right
to organise the society – in social and political movements – to pressure for changes in
institutions to reduce such inequalities and to build other economic systems.
1.3. WILL THERE BE SOME WAYS?
So it’s possible to think about other possibilities to organise the economy whose goal isn’t to
make money nor serves for the thirst for profits to be accumulated to generate inequality. Will
it be possible to satisfy needs with available resources? It’s possible to reconsider the economy,
to define what to produce, when to produce, how much to produce and for whom to produce
on the basis of other values – of justice, of equality, of solidarity.
This is what we’re talking about: the economy can generate equalities, as far as it’s directed for
social justice, which means the fair sharing of goods and resources to satisfy everybody’s needs
and no some people’s.
Before going ahead in this subject, let’s understand why it’s urgent and necessary to build
another economy and what to do so that it can come true.
1.4. THINK ANOTHER ECONOMY BOUND FOR ANOTHER DEVELOPMENT
THE DEVELOPMENT has been interpreted and sought for by people and societies as progress: a
promise of the future. The enhancement of material wealth and the generation of well-being –
of comfort – leads to the satisfaction of human needs.
The expansion of the current concept of development, understood as economic growth,
happened in the middle of the 20th century, after the World War II, when a global climate was
brewed up in favour of the so-called “development”, whose driving force consisted of the
industrialisation and urbanisation. The growth of the economy, measured by the increase of
productivity and of the production of wealth, by the enhancement of capacity to consume in
cities and by the technological modernisation, in the production and in consumer goods, turned
to be synonym of development.
Actually, this concept of development is now in crisis! The promise of future came true in some
countries and only for a fistful of people. Economic and social indicators point out the
borderlines of poverty and of richness among continents, countries and their populations. It’s
about a development model whose base is the constant increase of economic profitability and
of competitiveness at markets, disrespecting social and environmental aspects, and as a result
practices of competition, domination, corruption, accumulation, individualism, fragmentation,
exploitation and submission etc. are prevailing in the society.
The degradation of the environment and the worsening of the social inequalities endanger
present and future generations. In some cases, contrary to the promise of future, the capitalist
model of development destroys that possibility, just like past civilisations did, trying to destroy
or submit traditional cultures which currently resist, promotes the exploitation of natural
resources as much as possible and introduces sophisticated techniques which replace the
human labour, leading to a degradation of people’s life standard.
In the midst of the 21st century, we witness a social setback, in a world characterised by the
famine of food and justice! The FOOD CRISIS is a result of the agro-financial speculation which
raises food prices artificially at markets; of obscene consumption and waste of food by a small
part of population; of a sort of intensive agriculture which devastates the land, wastes water and
suffocates the rural family agriculture, among other factors. The truth is that the number of
starving people in the world increased. In the last few years we could witness the “Famine War”
caused by the absurd food prices in many impoverished countries.
The current ECONOMIC CRISIS is the result of the current model of the domineering speculative
financial capital, or in other words, of gambles at markets. Who pays the bill of this crisis are
workers; the unemployment increases; wage cut makes workers poor; precarious jobs increase,
among other consequences. Due to this, millions of people, especially in impoverished
countries, make up for the queue of extreme poverty, increasing the dependence on assistance
programmes, if they exist.
Another current consequence produced by this model of development is the ECOLOGICAL
CRISIS. Our planet Earth is at stake! Symptoms are becoming more and more obvious to show
climate changes as consequences of the substantial increase of air pollution with concentration
of carbon dioxide, methane and nitrogen oxide, triggering green gas effect and global warming.
The natural resources, which are vital to our survival, give signals of scarcity and depletion: the
soil is threatened, with part of farming fields in the status of degradation and desertification;
millions of people live in regions of chronic scarcity of water, among other symptoms.
In short, this is what we call as UNSUSTAINABILITY. This was why Celso Furtado warned, still in
the beginning of 1970s, that these crises are part of the way the very capitalism is.
“The lifestyle created by the industrial capitalism will always be a minority’s privilege. The cost
that we have of pillage from the physical world, of this lifestyle is so high that every trial to
generalise it would lead mercilessly to the collapse of a whole civilisation, jeopardising the
survival of the human species“ (The Myth of the Economic Growth – Celso Furtado, 1974)
The criticism on the limits of the economic growth stimulates the debate on the SUSTAINABILITY
of the development as the harmonisation among social justice, ecological prudence, efficiency
and political citizenship. The recognition onto the unity of life on the Earth requires the balance
among these different environmental, social, cultural, political and economic dimensions of
The other perspective to change the current direction of development is the SOLIDARITY:
inclusion of everybody into the benefits given by the development as right of the citizenship.
It’s about the valorisation of cooperation, of collective and shared responsibility in favour of the
construction of a fairer society, overcoming socioeconomic, ethnic, gender and generational
1.5. ANOTHER ECONOMY IS POSSIBLE
The colonising and dominant vision of the capitalist economic system denied and broke almost
completely all the other ways to run economy, especially the ways in which people and
traditional communities (indigenous, Afro-Brazilian and peasants’ ones, among others)
produced their life conditions, satisfied their needs and developed their skills, considering and
valorising the environment, their beliefs and the respect for the life.
So it’s necessary to rescue and to (re)introduce this and other values into the essence of the
economy. The starting point is to recognise the existence of material limits for the economic
growth and the unfeasibility to keep the growing internal inequality in countries, between the
beneficiaries and the marginalised of the process and among nations.
What would be, then, the economic alternative for a sustainable development? This question
has been done many years ago and, although there’re little advertisements, there’re many
alternatives and experiments which can lead to a satisfactory answer to the very question.
Today we know that for an economy to be sustainable it’s necessary to be adequate to the local
conditions, to the environment, considering ecological diversities – biomass and ecosystems –
and to the diversities of culture, of communities and of traditional ethnic people.
It’s also required to democratise the access to necessary means for the production of goods and
services, like production means and natural goods. In Brazil, for instance, the strategy of
sustainable rural development should enable the access to the land for rural workers to develop
farming activities which can warrant
food and nutritional security, attending to the needs of the internal market, guaranteeing the
social function of farmers’ property, raising its yield and, basically, distributing the yield better
for the sake of the whole collectivity.
On top of that, for the development to be sustainable it’s necessary to be lead for the conquest
of new rights: of access and use of healthy environment, of cultural diversity, of people’s self-
determination and of gender, racial and ethnic equality. The life quality will be understood as
right to a decent life, to the realisation of aspirations and of everybody’s skills.
Another way for the sustainability is the valorisation of solidarity economy initiatives on the
basis of the associativism, in the cooperation and their different alternative ways of solidarity in
1.6. BUT WHAT IS THE SOLIDARITY ECONOMY?
The Solidarity Economy is a way to make the economic activity of production, offer of services,
commercialisation, finances and consumption based on democracy and on cooperation, what
we call as self-management. In other words, in the solidarity Economy there are neither
employers nor employees, as every member of the enterprise (association, cooperative or group)
are at the same time workers and owners.
The Solidarity Economy is also a way to create and consume (at home, at events or at workplace)
local and healthy produces of the Solidarity Economy which neither affect the environment nor
has GMO nor benefits big corporations.
The Solidarity Economy is a social movement which struggles for social change, by way of
another development method which is based neither on big corporations nor on latifundia with
their owners and stockholders, but is a development for people and built by people on the basis
of values of solidarity, of democracy, of cooperation, of environmental preservation and of
And last but not least, it isn’t only a dream, a hope, it’s already happening in different parts of
the world. You can find somebody well aware of it quite close to you!
This another economy appreciates labour more than capital, contributing for the development
of peoples’ skills, with the collective management (self-management) of economic activities and
with sharing the result of the work, considering the whole human being as subject and goal of
the economic activity.
In this way, the 1st National Conference of Solidarity Economy, which took place in 2006,
affirmed that the solidarity economy is a strategy for the sustainable and solidarity-based
development, generating jobs and distributing income by way of an economic growth with
The solidarity economy owns the following features:
- the cooperation as existence of common interests and objectives, linkage of efforts and skills,
collective ownership of goods, sharing of results and solidarity-based responsibility on potential
tasks. It includes different sorts of collective organisation which can add a whole range of
individual and family activities;
- the self-management is the guideline for a series of democratic and participatory practices in
day-to-day strategic decisions of the enterprises, above all in terms of the choice of leaders and
of coordination of actions in its different levels and interest, in the definition of working
processes, in decisions about the application and distribution of results and surplus, on top of
the collective ownership of the whole or part of goods and means of production for the
- The solidarity is shown in different dimensions, from the accumulation of participants’ mutual
efforts to achieve common goals; in values which show the fair distribution of achieved results,
in chances which bring to the development of participants’ skills and to the improvement of
their life standard; in relations to be established with the environment, showing the compromise
with the healthy environment; in relationships to be established with the local community; in the
active participation into
sustainable development processes on the communitarian, regional and national basis; in
relationship with the other social and people’s movements of emancipating character; in the
concern with the well-being of the workers and consumers and respecting workers’ rights; and
- the economic action is one of the bases to motivate the cohesion of personal efforts and
resources and of other organisations for production, benefits, credit, commercialisation and
consumption, which includes elements of economic feasibility, pierced into by efficiency and
effectiveness standards, as well as cultural, environmental and social aspects.
1.7. THE RECENT TRAJECTORY OF SOLIDARITY ECONOMY IN BRAZIL
The solidarity economy isn’t today’s invention. It already has a long history, both in Brazil and in
other countries. We can say that one of the first sources are indigenous people, who culturally
practiced and still practice their economy on the basis of sharing and solidarity. According to
Paul Singer, the urban origin of solidarity economy comes from workers’ historic struggle in the
beginning of the 19th
century, under the form of cooperativism, as one of ways of resistance
against the overwhelming advance of industrial capitalism.
In Brazil, it surges again at the end of the 20th century as workers’ answer to the new ways of
exclusion and exploitation in the labour world. In the countryside, the solidarity economy has
been adopted as a way to organise productive activities at settlements of agrarian reform, in
family farming, in the handicrafts, in traditional fishing activities, beekeeping, among others.
Traditional communities and people, such as the indigenous, Afro-Brazilians, and waterside ones,
also understand solidarity economy more and more as strategy to promote the endogenous
development (development which respects these peoples’ ethnic and cultural features).
In urban areas, the solidarity economy has been receiving incentives by people’s urban
movements and syndical ones, as strategy of economic organisation and alternative to
unemployment, in the
following initiatives: the strengthening of people’s cooperativism and of associativism of small
individual and family producers; the creation of barter clubs, community banks and solidarity
funds; in the process to recover enterprises which were on the bankrupt process and that are
recovered by their former employees in the form of self-management. In this way, the solidarity
economy has been shown, in the last few years, as innovative alternative to create jobs and
incomes and as an answer in favour of the social inclusion.
A portrait of the solidarity economy in Brazil
The Sistema de Informações em Economia Solidária (Information System in Solidarity Economy,
SIES) identified, between 2005 and 2007, 21,859 Solidarity Economic Enterprises (EES in
Portuguese abbreviation). These enterprises have approximately 1,700,000 male and female
associates. The survey was done at 2,934 municipalities (52% of municipalities in Brazil), by the
National Secretary of Solidarity Economy (SENAES in Portuguese abbreviation), in partnership
with the Brazilian Forum of Solidarity Economy (FBES in Portuguese abbreviation) and other civil
society organisations. In other words, it’s not about a census and there’re still many to be
identified in Brazil.
The main motives to create EES are: alternative to the unemployment (46%), complement to
members’ income (44%) and access to more income in an associative activity (36%). In order to
attain that, EES develop a wide variety and impressive amount of products and services, with the
most frequently mentioned ones those related to farming and cattle raising activities, hunting
and fishing (42%), production of foods and beverages (18.3%); different handicrafts (13,9%);
textile production and ready-made clothes (10%) and provision of services (7%). These products
and services are aimed prevailingly to local spaces, to local and communitarian businesses and
Despite the importance that they’ve been winning, these enterprises show huge fragilities and
face with enormous difficulties: 68% of mapped Solidarity Economy Enterprises referred to the
commercialisation as main bottleneck of their activities, 53% referred to the access to credit and
27% referred to the lack of technical assistance, basically in the field of technical training. This
reality requires the strengthening of organisation process of solidarity economy in Brazil.
1.8. THE POLITICAL ORGANISATION OF SOLIDARITY ECONOMY IN BRAZIL
The solidarity economy in Brazil is going ahead in its political organisation, building forums and
networks. Since the beginning of 1980s we have seen the emergence of some support initiatives
and organisations for solidarity economy, such as the Alternative Communitarian Projects, with
incentives from the Cáritas Brasileira; the farming cooperation at settlements of agrarian reform,
organised by the MST (Landless Workers’ Movement), among others. This process won its drive
during 1990s, with the following initiatives:
- the creation of ANTEAG (Portuguese: Associação Nacional de Trabalhadores de Empresas de
Autogestão, National Association of Workers of Self-managed Enterprises), articulating
initiatives of enterprises recovered by workers and other self-managed enterprises.
- in the actions which give incentives to solidarity social economy of the Projeto Alternativas do
Cone Sul (Alternative Project of South Cone, PACS) which, together with other organisations,
resulted in the creation of the Brazilian Network of Solidarity Social Economy;
- in the initiatives promoted by the Action of the Citizenship Against Famine and Misery and For
Life, encouraged by the sociologist José Herbert de Souza, Betinho, together with hundreds of
NGOs and public entities;
- with the surge of the Incubadoras Tecnológicas de Cooperativas Populares (Technological
Incubators of People’s Cooperatives, ITCP) which were organised in ICTP Networks and with the
University Work network which enhanced the horizons of university extension with
emancipating character, engaging universities with the promotion and support to initiatives of
solidarity economy in urban communities where extreme poverty is concentrated.
- with the recognition and adhesion of the part of syndical movement, shown in the creation of
the Agência de Desenvolvimento Solidário (Solidarity Development Agency) and CUT (Central
Única dos Trabalhadores, Unified Workers' Central) which came to support different initiatives of
solidarity economy with the support and mobilization of labour unions.
- with experiences of governmental actions in support for solidarity economy, highlighting cases
of Porto Alegre, Belém, Santo André and later Recife and São Paulo, as the most emblematic
ones, and the State Government of Rio Grande do Sul as the pioneer, in the end of 1990s, in the
implementation of state-level policies.
An important qualitative step forward in the organisation happened in 2001, with the creation of
the Brazilian Working Group of Solidarity Economy at World Social Forums, articulating these
different initiatives to organise. The achievement of this working group brought viability and
provided exchange of experiences and integration among different practices of solidarity
economy in Brazil and in different parts of the world. As the strong contribution of organisation
process for World Social Forum, the movement of solidarity economy grew and was
strengthened all over the national territory.
All these efforts came to realise the 1st National Plenary of Solidarity Economy, in 2002, at São
Paulo/SP, which started the elaboration of a National Platform of Solidarity Economy and
decided to demand the recently-elect government to create public policies on Solidarity
In 2003, the National Secretary of Solidarity Economy was founded within the Ministry of Labour
and Employment, fruit of joint political efforts of a series of organisations which act with
solidarity economy in Brazil.
At the same time, in June 2003, the 3rd National Plenary of Solidarity Economy took place,
creating the Fórum Brasileiro de Economia Solidária (Brazilian Forum of Solidarity Economy,
FBES). The FBES is a tool of the Solidarity Economy movement, a space of articulation and
dialogue among different players and social movements for the construction of solidarity
economy as fundamental base of another socio-economic development of the country,
departing from the local reality, in an ecologically sustainably and solidarity-based way. Today
there’re more than 120 Micro-regional Forums and 27 State Forums (all states which make up
Brazil) all over the country with the participation of more than 3,000 solidarity-based enterprises,
500 counseling entities and 100 representatives of municipal and state governments. The FBES
is also compromised to build the solidarity economy movement at the international level by way
of the Intercontinental Network of Promotion of Social and Solidarity Economy and in the
MERCOSUR level of Solidarity Economy.
Also in 2003 the Network of Governmental Public Policymakers of Solidarity Economy was
founded. These networks articulate governments’ policy initiatives which exist since 1980s, with
the aim to enhance the public tools to stimulate and develop solidarity economy, as well as to
stimulate and strengthen social organisation and participation of this segment in the decision
on public policies.
As people go ahead in terms of organisation process, in 2004 the 1st National Meeting of
Solidarity Economy Enterprises took place, with more than 1,000 enterprises, showing the huge
economic and cultural diversity achieved by the solidarity economy in Brazil.
In this period, linkages and unions of already existing solidarity-based enterprises, such as the
ANTEAG and CONCRAB (Confederação de Cooperativas de Reforma Agrária, Confederation of
Cooperatives of Agrarian Reform) were strengthened and new national-level organizations was
founded, such as the União das Cooperativas de Agricultura Familiar e Economia solidária
(Union of Cooperatives of Family Agriculture and Solidarity Economy, UNICAFES) and União e
Solidariedade de Cooperativas e empreendimentos de Economia Social (Union and Solidarity of
Cooperatives and Enterprises of Solidarityh Economy, UNISOL Brasil).
The solidarity economy in Brazil has also been conquering the public support and recognition.
On top of the creation of the National Secretary of Solidarity Economy (SENAES), there’re a
series of actions developed by other government organisations in support for solidarity
economy, in programmes to face with the poverty; of food and nutritional security; to
strengthen family agriculture and agrarian reform; of regularisation of land ownership by
indigenous people, Afro-Brazilians and peasants; of mental health; of social and professional
qualification; of education of the youth and adults; of sustainable and solidarity-based
community development; of promotion of gender, racial and ethnic equality, among others..
In 2006 the 1st National Conference of Solidarity Economy took place, mobilising more than
15,000 people at participatory stages (at state and micro-regional levels) and 1,200 people at
the national level. The Conference established guidelines, goals and priorities for public policies
on solidarity economy, as right of the civil society and obligation of the State.
Soon after the Conference, the National Council of Solidarity Economy was set up, with 56
members, with 13 from Ministries of the Federal Government, 3 public banks, representatives of
the Forum of Secretaries of Labour of State Governments and of the Network of municipal
Public Policymakers, representatives of solidarity economy enterprises and support and
stimulating entities which act with solidarity economy.
Another economy is already happening
When we say that “Another Economy is Happening,” we are referring to the practices of
Solidarity Economy to be inserted into the flag put at the 4th National Plenary of FBES, and that
appear in the initiatives of: production, solidarity-based commercialisation and consumption,
training in solidarity economy, legal framework and solidarity finance. You can find these
initiatives at activities of:
- family members who work for agroecology-based agriculture;
- urban and semi-urban communitarian vegetable-gardens;
- different sorts of self-managing workers’ cooperatives;
- self-managing enterprises;
- associated production workshops;
- commercialisation centres of family farmers;
- craftmen’s assoiations;
- self-managing schools and projects of education for workers and associates;
- workers’ organisations of solidarity economy;
- organisations of solidarity-based microcredit1
- self-managing consumers’ organisations;
- self-managing community banks;
- solidarity-based funds for internal reinvestments;
- groups of solidarity-based barter;
- counseling entities of solidarity economy;
Miguel: Não consegui achar uma tradução direta do termo “fundo rotativo” em inglês. Acho que precisariamos
explicar o que é o fundo rotativo porque não é um conceito bem conhecido fora do Brasil. / I couldn’t find the
direct translation of the term “fundo rotativo” in English. So I think we need to explain what the fundo rotativo is
because it isn’t something well known out of Brazil.
- networks of solidarity economy action public policymakers;
- network of university incubators for solidarity economy enterprises among others.
This part of our booklet shows the basic flags and conquests of Solidarity Economy these years.
2.1 BUILDING THE SUSTAINABLE PRODUCTION, THE FAIR TRADE AND THE SOLIDARITY-BASED
In the global scene, the World Trade Organisation (WTO) regulates this development model as
well as our consumption. Every year the World Economic Forum takes place at Davos, in the
Swiss Alpes. It’s a space where rich countries, especially United States, are used to show their
platforms to promote free trade and liberal economic policies, with the aim to define where the
international trade is heading for as well as to influence and define the flux of international
production and consumption from the economic interests of big groups. Such encounters
define what should be produced in the world, where priorities are given for investments (in
which territories to invest) and in which way countries (nation states) will behave, internally and
externally, from such pre-defined priorities.
What drives these groups’ interests and priorities is the enhancement of their enterprises, the
increase of profit and the accumulation of wealth. Within the same logic and using the same
principles, priorities are defined in the food production where the technology of genetically
modified food is used to churn out foods with the largest added values (GMO) to lower the
costs and basically to increase profits of enterprises which retain such technologies. Consumers
are seen as a uniform mass without (regional or national) identity and the mass media make use
of this to give incentive to what we should produce and consume without allowing us to have a
Within this logic, the whole production’s priority is the accumulation of capital, be it goods
and/or services, be it food production, be it production of weapons. The logic is the same: the
priority is the profit and the strengthening of the system to accumulate the capital, regardless of
the impacts onto the environment nor of the potential consumers’ health.
At the same time in which the global economic superpowers meet at Davos, there’re people,
groups and organisations who promote a big global meeting: the World Social Forum (WSF).
The first edition took place here in Brazil in Porto Alegre, Rio Grande do Sul in 2001. It’s in this
space, which takes place at the same date as the Davos meeting, where people have built and
shown that “Another World Is Possible”, another development base is possible.
The new development departs from the reality and needs of people and communities, in order
to suggest the option for investments of responsible, environmentally correct, socially fair and
economically feasible technologies. Within the affirmations of the WSF the proposal was born
too that Another Economy is Possible and is Happening.
Whem we say that “Another Economy is Happening”, we are referring to the practice of the
Solidarity Economy, which emerges precisely in the initiatives of solidarity-based production,
commercialisation and consumption. It’s about a complex axis, since it includes and articulates
different stages of economic activities by solidarity-based enterprises, ranging from production
to final consumer.
One of the largest challenges is precisely to build a diversity of strategies to change the current
functional mechanisms of market and of economic activities, which at the same time give an
immediate return to the solidarity-based enterprises so that the solidarity economy can happen
concretely and show its results and its advantages for the Brazilian society, trying to articulate
the political dimension with economic one.
We witness, recognise and appreciate experiences and processes of organic and agrocological
food production, of the preservation of autochthonous seeds which maintain the culture and,
mainly, the food and nutritional security of communities and peoples, of producers’
organisations which work arduously to create fair markets (textile, handicrafts, recycling, healthy
housing, responsible tourism among others).
The perspective of social transformation which makes up the broadest horizon of Solidarity
Economy movement can be only warranted if Solidarity Economy enterprises, articulated in
networks and solidarity-based supply chains, are driving forces of solidarity-based and
sustainable local development and not conventional and capitalist big corporations.
The economy of solidarity-based enterprises and different chances to transform the current
production model, market and consumption in our society depends essentially on the conquest
of public policies targeted for the potentialisation, strengthening and consolidation of solidarity-
based networks and supply chains, commercialisation and consumption, in the areas of logistics,
infrastructure and for the creation of space for commercialisation and distribution.
The identity and the recognition of products and services of solidarity economy by consumers
are also of fundamental importance. This recognition depends on warrant systems which
generate trust and identity. The participatory systems of warrant, by being based on the self-
management and including different supply chains (producers, consumers and distributors)
contribute so that the certification process and identity creation of solidarity economy should
happen by initiative and organisation of the very movement of solidarity economy and in a
democratic and participatory way. On top of that, these systems create an environment and an
identity within communities, strengthening the short and middle-ranged supply chains,
commercialisation and consumption and therefore the solidarity-based local development.
For the recognition and identity of this another economy to go ahead, it’s important to
consolidate a National System of Solidarity-based Fair Trade which should regulate, assure and
gives identity to the responsible consumer.
Today in Brazil different initiatives of commercialisation and logistics for the well-being exist
(and are resisting). We have shops, agroecology markets of Solidarity Economy,
commercialisation centres, warehouses, marts for commercialisation, public training and
commercialisation centre, barter clubs, consumers’ groups and many others, which are
organised in a collective way to produce, commercialise and consume in a fair and responsible
Strategic partnerships are set up in different experiences of production in terms of the
preservation of life, appreciation of healthcare, of tradition and of people’s identity, where the
market is the space for barter, of encounter of knowledge, of sharing and of the construction of
social bonds, targeted for solidarity and peace.
Initiatives like these, on top of producing and giving access to the result of this responsible
production, also take care of the outflow of production: it’s practiced too in a collective way,
including with the collaboration on sale, with the distribution of merchandises to be sold in
In this sense, the consumption is seen as a politically responsible act where the result of my
consumption option will feed this new society model, putting the life as core and respecting
future generations, as space to articulate networks and national and international supply chains.
Otherwise my option will be to invest for the consumption of products and brands which are
responsible for supporting the war industry, huge chemical laboratories which promote the
development of GMO, poisons and death.
2.2 BUILDING A SYSTEM OF SOLIDARITY FINANCE
To face with the current financial system it’s necessary to build a System of Solidarity Finance,
which supports the development of Solidarity-based Supply Chains to be recognised as the right
of workers and associates which should come out of the Democratic State.
What happens with the financial system in the world?
The current stage of global development of the capitalism, in which money has its own and
autonomous value, without corresponding to the volume of real production, alters the world,
without national borders, into a huge casino where people bet for speculations of financial
applications to make money which doesn’t correspond to the growth of productive activities.
And the financial system plays a role on it.
It catches resources, savings, payments, salaries, of public or private expenditures, withdraws
them from the communities of origin to give them to speculators’ hands, of those who have
better access or capacity to control on the applications.
And it’s this logic that directs the so-called “Multilateral Banks of Development”, such as World
Bank, IMF (International Monetary Fund): uniting resources of the whole world applying them
rules which are convenient for huge capitals, almost always benefitting rich countries, keeping
the poor ones in debt. On top of that: their demands range from keeping the high interest rate
on loans to the interference into the national policy of privitisation and of public expenditure.
Instead of making money serve for nations, nations serve for money.
And in Brazil?
The BNDES (Banco Nacional de Desenvolvimento Econômico Social, National Bank of Social
Economic Development) is the main development bank development for Brazil and Latin
America. In 2005, the total amount of loans reached R$ 47 billion (US$ 26 billion), responsible
for 20% of the whole credit of the country, whose privatisation is enormous! Its profits amounts
to R$ 3.2 billion (US$ 1.8 billion).
The profits of the Caixa Econômica Federal and of Banco do Brasil ensure the “health” and
efficiency of the Brazilian financial system.
BNDES finances mainly the Southeast (São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Minas Gerais and Espírito
Santo); the rest is invested for Northeast 8% (Such as Bahía (capital: Salvador) and Ceará (capital:
Fortaleza)) and only 4% is invested for the North (such as Pará (capital: Belém) and Amazonas
(capital: Manaus)). For social projects, only 2.4%.
A big part of BNDES’ resources comes from PIS/PASEP, i.e. from the Fundo de Amparo ao
Trabalhador (Relief Fund for Workers, FAT). What does this mean? That BNDES means
resources to which workers are entitled in order to finance the modernisation of the
development, cutting jobs, privatising and submitting national initiatives to huge capitals which
are more and more internationalised.
Despite the “banking” of people’s credit, which means measures so that the access to credit
should be “for people”, it hasn’t reached, in a convenient way, most of Brazilians who are thrown
away. And when it reaches, it’s almost always to indebt them!
As competitive and pro-privatisation entrepreneurs’ logic prevails, only those who are capable
can win! Capable of facing with the privatised market alone which is regulated to satisfy the
interest of the huge corporations. And excluding the small ones. So we’re put into the law of
the jungle! The law of the strongest! The law of the money which can have value in itself, just
According to Paul Singer, secretary for solidarity economy, “In Brazil, the need for another
financial system is compelling. It’s necessary to open a debate on how to make it achieve
compatible dimensions with the need to decentralise the capital to insert the marginalised (due
to the social financial system) into the production.
Solidarity finance in practice
People’s initiatives which aim for another financial system begin to emerge:
- rescuing practices of solidarity of ancient times such as solidarity-based exchanges among
- reaffirming the principles of cooperativism of credit in the self-management of its savings;
- creating funds for internal reinvestments which promote solidarity and emancipation;
- founding community banks with locally-circulating money;
- Creating entities of solidarity-based microcredit.
The solidarity-based barters are practices of groups with periodical meetings where people
bring products or provide their services in exchange for other products or services. They can
decide to have their own money which circulates only within their members. Such practices
have been building networks of barter clubs, strengthening relationship between people and
Credit unions are a way to put together families’ savings, many times piled up by the turnover of
their production in order to favour the credit of its associates. Today a network of solidarity-
based credit union exists and is called as ANCOSOL. Most of them were born after having built,
for some years, a Solidarity-based Funds for Internal Reinvestments . By having a direct
relationship with the associates, many times, by way of workers’ cooperatives or of the
commercialisation, it turns out to be more efficient than the bank loan, especially when it’s
about managing public funds such as PRONAF (Programa de Apoio à Agricultura Familiar,
Support Programme for Family Farming).
Community banks are spreading all over the country: they’re created and managed by the very
community, in a self-managing way. They work with social money which is created by the
community and is accepted at
local businesses and services. Community banks provide credit using the solidarity-based
guaranties which can be provided in R$ (Brazil’s official currency) or in social money. The social
money, or local means of exchange, as it circulates only locally, aims to make “money” circulate
within the community or municipality, avoiding its leakage and enhancing the power of local
commercialisation, increasing the wealth which goes around the community, creating jobs and
There’re many initiatives of solidarity-based microcredit, many of them inspired by a bank in
Bangladesh, with the solidarity-based guarantee among a group of loan-takers and with the
guarantee of the community where this system works. Some initiatives of solidarity-based
microcredit were born out of the Solidarity-based Funds which had been previously practiced.
Solidarity-based Funds for Internal Reinvestments have the widest variety of communitarian
initiatives which practice management and implementation of productive or social projects as a
pedagogical process of communitarian emancipation and organisation. As an effort to organize
the community, the return for volunteers can be: seeds, goats, cisterns to catch rainfall, working
hours, or even money. The Solidarity-based Funds had the setup-stage support from
international organizations, from Solidarity Campaigns, such as the Campanha da Fraternidade,
and are spread into whole Brazil, on top of being an important tool for emancipating actions
together with families of support programmes to transfer income such as the Bolsa Família
(benefit programme for poor families, demanding their children to go to school and to be
vaccinated, as a tool to struggle against short-term poverty (by subsidy) and long-term one (by
These initiatives which will be built in networks show that it’s possible to conquer a Programa de
Apoio à Economia Solidária (Support Programme to the Solidarity Economy, PRONADES) which
can finance their workers by way of this another solidarity finance system which is going forward.
2.3. BUILDING SOLIDARITY-BASED EDUCATION AND CULTURE
Nowadays we live before an educational system based on consumerist values where the
competition is prevailing. Schools are a tool to repeat the model of excluding society, as well as
a space of power and control where the knowledge is treated as merchandise and the act to
study is both mechanical and alienating. In this system students are trained to keep the social,
economic and cultural inequalities and, many times, don’t question the reality into which they’re
put into, turning to be alienated and subaltern and reproducing the hierarchical systems.
On the other hand, there’re communities, social and professional movements which question
this model and are getting organised, creating new practices of training and education based on
the conception of people’s education as process to build the knowledge aiming at the social,
political, cultural, environmental and economic transformation as well as an ongoing training for
educators, based on emancipating pedagogies and methodologies targeted at the self-
management, cooperation and solidarity.
Where local knowledge and cultures are appreciated, there’re exchanges of knowledge, on top
of that different languages and transversality of subjects work, ensuring that the very workers
come to be trainers too, making the articulation of scientific and empirical knowledge.
This another way to educate privileges workers’ autonomy and emancipation, with the hope to
get over the alienated work and sexual division of labour, strengthening more and more their
identities and including the improvement of school enrollment of workers at all levels.
In these experiences we’re invited to question and build a new society where the human being
should be the core of life, where the education happens in a context-based, emancipating,
compromised and cooperating way. It should take into consideration the gender, ethnic, racial
and generation diversity and promote the human rights as well as the compromise with
generations of today and future, where the sense of human dimension is learned. Being as such,
the knowledge isn’t a merchandise, but precious goods of all the human being and should be
put to serve for the life and the technology serve to shorten distance, improve relationship and
the life quality.
Did you know that a number of practices exist in the country and one of them can happen next
Currently there’re a number of experiences, among others:
- Training Centres in Solidarity Economy CFES (North, Northeast, Southeast, South and Middle-
West, on top of the National CFES) which aim to the training of educators and public
policymakers who work with solidarity economy, contributing to strengthen the potential of
social inclusion and economic sustainability of solidarity-based enterprises.
- Family Farming School (Escolas Família Agrícola, EFA) which provide the youth from the
countryside with education on the basis of their reality, of their family and communitarian life
and of their activities. In EFA the Alternation Pedagogy is practiced where the teaching method
is experienced not only among the four walls of the school, alternating the experience in
community too, with the theory reflected on the school rooms.
- Technical Assistance in Solidarity Economy – supports the development of solidarity economy
enterprises (family enterprises, cooperatives, workers’ associative enterprises and other
associative ways), within the principles of the Solidarity Economy.
- People’s incubators at Universities are present in different Brazilian states, realising promotion
activities, supports to organisation, consolidation and sustainability of solidarity economy
- The Network of Civil Education, which is present all over Brazil with a wide articulation of civil
society organisations, develops a people’s education project with families in vulnerable social
conditions in Paulo Freire’s perspective: to start from the reality and of generating subjects, to
deepen the knowledge and to propose alternatives of income generation on the basis of the
principles of solidarity economy: self-management, cooperation etc.
- The Educação de Jovens e Adultos (Youth and Adults Education, EJAs) which represents
another and new possibility of access to the right to the school education under a new
conception, under a new and own pedagogical model and of a relatively recent organisation.
- Cooperative Games and different social movements which act with the training in the
perspective of the people’s education.
Now that we know the importance to compromise with a transforming education dedicated to a
new society, we are supposed to glimpse at a new education model which should be done
under the principles of solidarity and of cooperation. But it should be, basically, a dialogued
education and ponder on the exercise of democracy. In order to achieve this, it’s necessary to
join spaces where the education at your neighbourhood, in your city, at your closest school is
discussed and to know the experiences of people’s education and solidarity economy in your
2.4. CONQUERING THE CITIZENSHIP: RECOGNITION AND RIGHT TO A SOLIDARITY ECONOMY
In Brazil, laws which deal with economy are, unfortunately, very limited: this leads us to believe,
on reading the Brazilian legal system, that only subordinated work (paid works) or autonomous
ones exist, giving the idea that the formal economy is nothing but private or public enterprises.
The General Law on Cooperativism (Lei do Geral do Cooperativismo, 5764/71), which deals with
cooperatives, is still nowadays from the military dictatorship period and therefore doesn’t
incorporate the principles, values and practices of Solidarity Economy.
The legislation recognises and assures rights solely to private economy and to state economy,
with state one serving for the private one. Ignoring the existence of another economy, the right
to associated work is reduced to actions and compensatory policies.
Obviously laws don’t solve everything, but their existence warrants the legal base for the
struggle for our rights. Therefore, the struggle for the recognition of the Solidarity Economy in
the Brazilian State is seen as the struggle for the modification of laws and articles in the
Constitution, consisting of 4 levels:
1. Rights: it’s necessary to recognise, in the Brazilian Constitution, the right to associated work,
the right to collective property, and the assertion that the Brazilian economy is based on the
cooperation and not on the competition.
2. Policy organisation: it’s necessary to establish a General Law on Solidarity Economy which
should define what the Solidarity Economy is and give the guideline for its organisation at
municipal, state and federal governments. This law provides a legal base for the levels 3 and 4
to be depicted later.
3. Support and promotion: it’s necessary to make up programmes and policies of solidarity
finance, of training, of technical assistance, of solidarity-based commercialisation and public
purchase, in whole Brazil, by municipal, state and federal governments. In Brazil currently the
main promotion programmes for the development are targeted for private enterprises and don’t
reach solidarity economy enterprises.
4. Formalisation and tax benefits: it’s necessary to guarantee that it’s easy and simple to create
solidarity-based enterprises legalised in the form of cooperatives and other juridical forms which
can issue receipts and have its Juridical Person National Number. On top of that, it’s still
necessary that solidarity economy enterprises should have tax cut and other fiscal benefits so
that they can be economically stable. Just to give you an idea, today a small cooperative pays
more tax than a small business!
Conquests and challenges
Municipal and state laws and programmes of Solidarity Economy
Thanks to the organisation and mobilisation, we’ve already achieved laws of Solidarity Economy
in some municipalities and states in Brazil. These laws create usually a Municipal or State
Council of Solidarity Economy, define what Solidarity Economy is, and create some support
programmes to the enterprises of solidarity economy. Discover if your municipality or state has
law of Solidarity Economy, by way of Local Forum of Solidarity Economy, whose contact is given
at the end of this booklet.
If not, a possible action is to learn with other municipalities and articulate to approve one in
Law of School Lunch
Another very important conquest for Brazil was the approval in 2009 of the Lei da Merenda
Escolar (Law of School Lunch, 11.497/09), which obliges municipal and state governments to buy
at least 30% of school lunch from local family farmers. The article 14 of this federal law says that
“of the total of financial resources approved by the Fundo Nacional de Desenvolvimento da
Educação (National Fund of Development of the Education, FNDE), at least 30% (thirty per cent)
should be used in the purchase of food directly from family farming and family rural enterprises
or of their organisations, giving priority to the settlements of agrarian reform, traditional
indigenous communities and Afro-Brazilian ones.”
It’s important to find out if this law is being accomplished in your city! A way to check out is to
join or ask for information to the Municipal Council of School Lunch at your city. This law serves
as an important tool to strengthen local enterprises of the Solidarity Economy, on top of
warranting that our children have access to locally-cropped healthy food, as our face and culture!
Programa Nacional de Desenvolvimento da Economia Solidária
(National Programme of Development of Solidarity Economy)
A demand for a National Programme of Development of Soldiarity Economy (PRONADES)
comes from the first encounters for articulation to build FBES and SENAES. It’s about the
proposal to create with financing lines and of technical assistance, inspired at PRONAF
(Programa Nacional da Agricultura Familiar, National Programme of Family Farming), but with
alterations from the accumulations of the solidarity economy movement (in its practices and
discussions) and of the experiences of other programmes, such as the Programa Economia
Solidária em Desenvolvimento (Solidarity Economy Programme in Development), the Fome Zero
(No Hunger), the Territórios da Cidadania (Citizenship Territories) and the PROGER Urbano.
It’s fundamental that a huge financing programme should exist for solidarity economy
enterprises to satisfy their needs, either working capital, investment or training actions and
technical assistances. In order to attain that, PRONADES should have its own fund and budget,
from different sources, such as FAT and Fome Zero, BNDES, among others.
Law on the cooperativism
Nowadays it’s very difficult to set up a cooperative: the law of cooperativism is from the military
dictatorship period, and demands the inscription at the commercial registry, with at least 20
members, and its membership at the Organização das Cooperativas do Brasil (Organisation of
Cooperatives in Brazil, OCB). On top of that, taxes are very heavy for small cooperatives and
they aren’t beneficiaries of the Law of Super Simples for small businesses.
This is why this law should change. There’re proposals in discussion at the Brazilian Senate for a
new General Law of the Cooperativism which should make it easier to set up cooperatives,
reducing the minimum number of members to 7 and warranting the freedom to be a member
of any representative entity of cooperatives. On top of that, there’re proposals to regulate
cooperatives’ tax payment, but unfortunately these proposals still don’t plan tax cuts for small
It’s necessary for us to get mobilised and press deputies and senators so that this clause should
go quicker at the National Congress, since otherwise it’s quite hard to set up cooperatives and
to formalise solidarity economy enterprises.
General Law on the Solidarity Economy
The National Council of Solidarity Economy edited a proposal of law for Solidarity Economy
whose main role is to define what the Solidarity Economy is and build the legal base for the
National Policy of Solidarity Economy in Brazil. With it, the path will be open for us to pressure
municipal, state and federal governments for the creation of local councils of Solidarity Economy
and of programmes such as PRONADES, the Sistema Nacional de Comércio Justo e Solidário
(National System of Solidarity-based Fair Trade), the Política Nacional de Formação e Assistência
Técnica (National Policy of Training and Technical Assistance), among others.
So this is one of the biggest priorities for the recognition of the Solidarity Economy within the
national laws and represents a flag which depends on the pressure and discussion at our
neighbourhood, city and state.
How do we contribute to strengthen an economy in service for the life?
How can we collaborate for the construction of another Economy which should have the life as
its priority? What are we already doing so that another Economy should take place? How can
we build relationship which should contribute for a better world? How were we trained and
which possibilities for changes? Ideas follow below, but they’re only some of them: use your
creativity to practice this other economy!
It doesn’t help at all to dream of another world if at home, school, workplace, parties, events and
community organisations we’re still consuming products and services which create inequality
and destroy the environment: so, an important attitude is to avoid the consumption of products
and services of conventional enterprises, privileging the local production and preferentially of
the Solidarity Economy.
Today it’s possible to find products and services of the Solidarity Economy in any Brazilian city:
they’re food, bio-jewelry, handicrafts, clothes, accessories, consulting services and professional
courses, cultural services and construction, among others. So the Farejador da Economia
Solidária (Solidarity Economy Finder) exists, which is available at Internet.
Using it you can generate a catalogue in a simple way in the yellow page format from your
search results, which can be transformed into PDF and distributed via e-mail for your friends or
printed to distribute it at your neighbourhood, city, school or workplace.
To consume responsibly is to have a curious look at stuffs: where do they come from and where
do they go? The sort of society that we want depends on the consumption option of everybody,
every family, community, parish, social group, social organisations, churches and enterprises.
Set up a Solidarity Economy enterprise
Another possible action is to get together with people from your neighbourhood or community
and organise your work collectively by way of the creation of a Solidarity Economy enterprise.
To support you in this idea, there’re hundreds of entities and universities (by way of
technological incubators of people’s cooperatives) which give consulting services in the form of
courses and help in challenges that you find. An easy way to localise this support is to get in
touch and join your nearest solidarity economy forum.
As the proverb says: “the union makes force!”
Join Local Forums of Solidarity Economy
In this booklet we notice how much we need to get organised and be together to be really able
to build another economy and with it another development. For that, everybody’s participation
into the Solidarity Economy movement is very important.
A way to contribute with this big wave all over Brazil is to join and contribute with Local Forums
of Solidarity Economy, in which those players related to the solidarity economy meet to sum up
their strengths and help each other.
Join and get involved with other movements and campaigns
The perspective of construction of another development based on the cooperation, on life and
on solidarity is seen as need of different fundamental changes in our society. Social movements
have defended important flags which are completely converging with that of the Solidarity
This is why it’s necessary to put our forces together and build strategic alliances at your city or
neighbourhood with other social movements such as that of Women, of Agroecology, of Afro-
Brazilians, of indigenous people, of Landless Workers’ Movement, that of the Homeless, that of
Food Sovereignty and Security, that of Urban Reform, that of Urban and Rural Workers, BNDES
Platform among others.
Here we underscore some important champaign currently under way:
- Campaign for the Constitutional Amendment of Right to Food
- Campaign against GMO and for right to biodiversity
- Campaign for the Agrarian Reform and for the Regularisation of Afro-Brazilian and Indigenous
- Campaign against the MP458 and for a land regularisation in the Amazon discussed together
with the civil society
Pressure the public authority, city councils and deputies
If in your city there’s no support programme at all for solidarity economy, nor approved law, an
important action is to try to talk with and pressure city councils and the city hall so that they
should go ahead in this support to promote the local, sustainable and solidarity-based
In order to achieve this, an idea is to show them the already-existing municipal and state laws in
other parts of Brazil, accessible at FBES Internet website, within the "farejador de leis estaduais e
municipais" (state and municipal law finder). With this material it’s enough to think about local
Other ideas are to get in touch with the Rede Nacional de Gestores Públicos em Economia
Solidária (National Network of Public Policymakers in Solidarity Economy) and look for the
articulation with the local authority.
Last but not least, it’s always a good idea to sensibilise state and federal deputies in favour for
the importance of Solidarity Economy, suggesting them to join the Frente Parlamentar da
Economia Solidária (Parliamentary Front of Solidarity Economy) and to defend our flags at the
Congress, such as the General Law of Cooperatives, the Law of Solidarity Economy, the
PRONADES, the Sistema Nacional de Comércio Justo e Solidário (National System of Solidarity-
based Fair Economy, SNCJS), the Law on People’s banks, among others!
Help to approve a Law of People’s Initiative for Solidarity Economy
Let’s leverage this moment of Campanha da Fraternidade Ecumênica 2010 (Campaign of
Ecumenical Fraternity 2010) to realise a big campaign to collect signatures for the approval of
the Law of People’s Initiative recognising Solidarity Economy!
In order to achieve this, it’s necessary to organise a team and to collect signatures to the text to
be edited by the Conselho Nacional de Economia Solidária (National Council of Solidarity
Economy) and to be made available at FBES website.
We’ve reached the end of our booklet and we hope the questions above just like others have
touched you enough so that you can see, think and choose what you find important to build a
Our proposal is that we can build this world well in our day-to-day practices where we establish
relationship with different people, from my home with my family, then at my neighbourhood,
community, workplace, school and so on. We’re human beings who produce goods and
services but also relationships.
And it’ll be the quality of these relationships at each space where we go often that will make a
difference for the construction of an Economy for Life. Big actions will be always welcome, but
it’ll be my and your choices that can influence and chance many things.
I can choose to make Economy (Caretaking of Home), taking care of me and of people as
important part of my existence, separating my garbage, not polluting streets, trying to learn
about the origin of products I eat and try to strengthen small farmers, I can go to a market and
bring cloth-made bags as we used to do, avoiding to use plastic bags which pollute the
environment, I choose not to use any further disposable cups, I can go for shopping solely or
with buy together with my family or neighbours, I can denounce injustices, join peace
movements, I can try to get products from Solidarity Economy, I can decide to join state forums,
workshops and seminars, I can join solidarity-based barter and even contribute so that laws
should favour and strengthen Solidarity Economy enterprises.
But if I don’t take care, I can also repeat all the vices of the neoliberal system, believing that I’m
making breakthroughs, doing something good, but at the end I’m repeating exactly what the
People!!!! This is a huge challenge, an exercise for everyday, a constant learning. There’s no
quick recipe, there’s a need to be creative, to invent, to dare for, exchange knowledge, have
urgent need to practice An Economy in service for LIFE.
GLOSSARY OF TERMS AND ABREVIATIONS
Agroecology: is a way of alternative agricultural production which rescues and evaluates the
traditional knowledge of family agriculture producing without the use of agrochemicals.
ANCOSOL - Associação Nacional de Crédito da Economia Familiar e Solidária (National
Association of Credit of Family and Solidarity-based Economy)
BNDES - Banco Nacional de Desenvolvimento Econômico Social (National Bank of Social
BNDES Platform: an articulation of entities and social movements with the aim to look for
important changes in policies and orientation of BNDES, by way of social control and of
proposals built with social movements’ participation.
CFES: Centro de Formação em Economia Solidária (Training Centre in Solidarity Economy)
CNES: Conselho Nacional de Economia Solidária (National Council of Solidarity Economy)
CONIT: Conselho Nacional de Igrejas Cristãs do Brasil (National Council of Christian Churches of
Cooperative Games: they are games which awake the cooperation and respect to the human
being, as what counts the most isn’t to compete but to accomplish a result where everybody is
CUT: Central Única dos Trabalhadores (Unique Central or Workers)
EES: Empreendimentos da Economia Solidária (Solidarity Economy Enterprises)
FBES: Fórum Brasileiro de Economia Solidária (Brazilian forum of Solidarity Economy)
GMO: are organisms which suffered from genetic modification.
ITCP: Incubadora Tecnológica de Cooperativas Populares (Technological Incubator of People’s
Neoliberal: system which reinforces the capitalist system, transforming into merchandise
essential services, such as healthcare, education, water and energy supply: reducing goods and
culture, human relationship and others.
Organic food: produces cultivated without using agrochemicals.
PRONADES: Programa Nacional de Desenvolvimento da Economia Solidária (National
Programme of Development of Solidarity Economy)
SENAES: Secretaria Nacional de Economia Solidária (National Secretary of Solidarity Economy)
SIES: Sistema de Informação em Economia solidária (Information System in Solidarity Economy)
SNCJS: Sistema Nacional de Comércio Justo (National System of Fair Trade)
Social money: is money, complementary to Real (R$), national currency, created by the
Communitarian Bank, with the aim to make “money” circulate in the own community or
municipality, enhancing the possibility of local commercialisation, increasing the circulating
wealth within the community, creating jobs and income locally.
Solidarity-based chains: are networks which are made by solidarity economy enterprises
articulated within the same chain.
Working capital: is the amount of value (R$) necessary to make businesses happen.
WTO: World Trade Organisation
TO LEARN MORE (in Portuguese)
BRAZILIAN FORUM OF SOLIDARITY ECONOMY
National Executive Secretary
CEP (Post Code in Portuguese):
Telephone and Fax:
LOCAL FORUMS OF SOLIDARITY ECONOMY
Access the website of the Brazilian Forum of Solidarity Economy also to find telephone numbers,
e-mails and addresses of State or Regional Forums of Solidarity Economy closest to you.
INFORMATION SOURCES AND SEARCH
WEBSITES OF ORGANISATIONS AND NETWORKS