SOLIDARITY FINANCE: AN EVOLVING LANDSCAPE
Collective enterprises in the social and solidarity economy are economic actors, engaged in mar- ket activity while committed to and meeting larger societal objectives. Contrary to the percep- tion that these enterprises are largely concentrated in service provision, in fact, they represent all sectors of activity, contributing to wealth creation. Indeed, their democratic governance and commitment to social and environmental goals while earning returns, distinguishes this organiza- tion model from private enterprise. In certain sectors of activity, collective enterprises comple- ment the private sector while meeting their larger objectives; in others, they have a clear lead in both producing goods and services more effectively and in their contribution to the public good. The goods and services produced by these enterprises respond to new and unmet needs.
While it is certainly true that the enterprises that make up the social and solidarity economy have grown exponentially in the last 25 years throughout the world and at a rapid rate over the last few years with the rising interest in “social enterprise” and “social purpose business” in the north, in the south and in emerging economies, access to capital remains a challenge that has not as yet been adequately met. Indeed, as this paper will discuss, the emergence of a new approach to so- cial investing and the surge in financial instruments to provide capital for these “hybrid” enter- prises is responding to this need. Terms such as “social finance” or “impact investing” to de- scribe this new financial market are becoming very familiar and are attracting a great deal of at- tention within mainstream financial markets. A strong case is made for the positive returns from such investment that also meets social and environmental goals.