The International Association of Investors in the social economy (INAISE) held its annual conference in Montreal, May 11-13 May. About 180 participants were present. This association includes various types of institutions of social and solidarity finance on an international level, ranging from cooperative financial institutions such as the Caisse d’économie solidaire Desjardins, Banca Etica in Italy, ethical banks like Triodos Bank in the Netherlands and Community Sector Banking in Australia. Several microfinance institutions, Oikocredit or the African Network MAIN, are also members. The complete list, with members in every continent, is found on the website. Historically, relations between INAISE and RIPESS exist since at least 2004.

> See the link to the Program & Presentations

The conference this year focused on the theme Contributions, promises and challenges. Among other things, the plenary sessions were carried on the following topics:

  •         Financial tools for the empowerment and solidarity and responsible economic development;
  •         Cooperatives and their role in the social economy and local development;
  •         Family farming and value chains;

Thereafter, the participants exchanged in workshops on social economy and women entrepreneurship, social economy and sustainable development as well as savings and credit unions.

The penultimate session focused on the Foundations and support for the social economy. Usually foundations make grants according to their mandates. These grants come from revenues on investments and interest. What is new is that foundations give themselves responsible investment policies and even dedicate a portion of their funds for patient capital funds for SSE enterprises. One of the obstacles to this practice in laws and regulations that prevent or restrict the development of such a practice.

RIPESS was invited to participate in the roundtable International networks: convergence, opportunities, challenges. Six organizations in the social economy and ESS spoke:

  •         Milder Villegas – President INAISE
  •         Gérald Larose – Vice President – Mont Blanc Meetings (MBM)
  •         Alain Arnaud – President CIRIEC International
  •         Laurence Kwark – Secretary General – GSEF (Global Social Economy Forum)
  •         Yvon Poirier – RIPESS
  •         Claire Brodin – Savings Without Borders (France)

The panel was moderated by Chantal Line Carpentier of the New York Office of UNCTAD – United Nations Conference on Trade and Development. She was known by most of the organizations since she spoke at the meeting of the International Leading Group on SSE on 28 September in New York. After a presentation of each organization, explaining who they are and what they fonts, each expressed his vision of collaboration. All expressed their willingness to collaborate to advance alternatives that represents the SSE.

002_foto Table ronde Conference INAISE 2016

From left to right: Gérald Larose, Claire Brodin, Milleder Villegas, Chantal-Line Carpentier, Alain Arnaud, Yvon Poirier and Laurence Kwark

On behalf of RIPESS, I expressed our desire to continue collaborations we have already, even though they may be variable, with other organizations. This is particularly the case with INAISE, the MBM and GESF that are SSE organizations. We have no relationship with CIRIEC International, nor with Savings Without Borders, which are more in research, but we were willing to have.

After insisting, on behalf of RIPESS, it was important to build the movement at every level, local, regional, national and international, to put forward an alternative development model to capitalism and state economies, a clarification become necessary. Indeed, the next speaker, Alain Arnaud from CIRIEC intervened to say that from his point of view, the SSE advocates a plural economy, that it aims to take it’s a place next to the private sector and the public economy. Before I had the opportunity to make a clarification, Gérald Larose from MBM expressed a position quite similar to that of RIPESS. He replied to Alain Arnaud, that we could indeed have a plurality in the form of business, but that as a system, we could not talk about plural economic system. For him, we must indeed speak of an alternative model to capitalism as a system.

We must be grateful to INAISE for organizing this spirit of cooperation, that we must continue….

Note written by Yvon Poirier, member of RIPESS Board