Values and dimensions of entrepreneurship in the solidarity economy – a view from Brazil

By | January 25, 2015

News: We are delighted that Dr Antonio Cruz, former National Coordinator (Brazil) of the Network of Popular Cooperatives of University Incubators will be speaking at the conference at York St John University, 1-3 Sept 2015

In Latin America and Africa the term social and solidarity economy is used to refer to “organisations that have explicit economic AND social (and often environmental) objectives; and which involve varying forms of co-operative, associative and solidarity relations.  They include, for example, cooperatives, mutual associations, NGOs engaged in income generating activities, women’s self-help groups, community forestry and other organizations, associations of informal sector workers, social enterprise and fair trade organizations and networks” (Utting 2013)

The term is becoming increasingly used in English, for example by the United Nations.

Conceptual models of the social and solidarity economy need to reflect the wide diversity of grassroots  experiences. Luís Inácio Gaiger and other Brazilian scholars performed  mapping and studies of the Social and Solidarity Economy ventures in Brazil in surveys conducted between 1992 and 2009. They created a conceptual and analytical model of enterprises in the solidarity economy, defining criteria in  quadrants as below. The model is presented in the table below. (See the original in Portuguese at the bottom of the article).

Gaiger and Corrêa 2010: 162

Gaiger and Corrêa 2010: 162

In quadrant SQ, self-management is linked to democracy, participation and autonomy of the enterprise in its management, relating both to individual partners as organizations and external forces.  Cooperation refers to values and practices of mutual collaboration, mutuality and social commitment. As for quadrant EQ, the efficiency of an enterprise relates to its ability to sustain and consolidate itself as a result of its activities. It refers to aspects of economic operation to ensure the survival of the enterprise in the present and not to jeopardise it in the future. Sustainability refers to the ability to generate conditions for follow working in the medium and long term (Gaiger and Corrêa 2010: 162).

The spirit of enterprise is combined with community solidarity. It recognises two logics of action: the instrumental logic of the entrepreneur who needs realism and pragmatism in his/her drive to ensure workable solutions in the realisation of an economic alternative. In balance with this are the ideological  values and principles, focusing on the aspiration for personal and social change, requiring commitment to others and above all the conviction that transformation will add social value (Gaiger and Corrêa 2010: 166, 167).

This article is translated and adapted from the project blog in Portuguese.


Gaiger, L. I. and Corrêa, A. da S. 2010. A História e os sentidos do empreendedorismo solidário. Outra Economía, volumen IV, nº7: 162.

Utting, P. (2013)  What is social and solidarity economy and why does it matter?

Gaiger and Corrêa 2010: 162

Gaiger and Corrêa 2010: 162

One thought on “Values and dimensions of entrepreneurship in the solidarity economy – a view from Brazil

  1. John Carlisle

    The diagram reflects the consistent bias of the dominance of political (power distribution) thinking over the reality of economic thinking which essentially is a process of how you meet a need with your capacities. You will note that none of the quadrants mentions customers, i.e. people who will pay for the product or service. This leads to the creation of static models that are not helpful for someone actually trying to run a business. It is high time the social economy sector paid more attention to the economics of the enterprise and not just the power or ownership relations.

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