Solidarity economy experiments in Brazil and Venezuela and the lessons for a Southern African debate on solidarity finance for informal trade
Ibrahim Steyn, January 2012
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…despite their structural and institutional dislocation from the formal pole of the capitalist market economy, the practices of Very Small and Micro Enterprises (VSMEs) are consistent with the rule of the neoliberal market to the extent that ownership is defined by individual self-interest and buying and selling are done in accordance with the logic of competition. In this sense, their practices reproduce neoliberal individualism, hence, the question of finance should be part of a broader debate about alternatives to the current political, economic, social and cultural context of informal trade.
The concept of the solidarity or social economy provides an opening for such a debate, as it promotes a new set of economic principles that break with the individualistic and profit-hungry culture of the capitalist market economy, including social ownership, cooperation,self-organisation and participatory democracy. This paper will thus provide a framework for understanding and debating the question of finance within the context of this form of alternative economics. To this end, it will assess solidarity economy experiments in Brazil and Venezuela to identify lessons that could be learnt for a Southern African debate on
solidarity finance for informal trade.
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