ESS: what is it?

This month of November 2021 marks the 14th edition of the Month of the Social and Solidarity Economy (ESS). The ESS represents a set of structures with a common ambition: to place people at the heart of the economy , taking into account current social challenges. This branch of the economy seeks to reconcile economic activity and social equity. It is within the reach of all and everyone can make their contribution to the structure of which they are a member.

The differences between SSE and other economic sectors

Our economy is governed by three sectors:

  • The public sector: in this first case, it is the State which creates the company, finances it to make it available to the community and it is it which has decision-making power.
  • The lucrative private sector: in search of profit, the company is financed thanks to the capital which belongs to the various shareholders. It is the majority shareholders who have more weight in decision-making.
  • Social and solidarity economy: it is governed by specific laws which are directly linked to social action.

In the ESS, the company belongs to all the members and they have democratic control, that is to say they can participate in the life of their company. Also, the capital is provided by contributions from members via shares. This gives equal weight to all voices during decision-making. Anyone can become a member of an SSE structure . They are called members, members, workers, users or companies.

ESS is governed by 3 main rules :

  • Strategic decisions are made in a collegial and egalitarian manner , regardless of its contribution in time or capital.
  • Each project is intended to be of social utility , turned towards the collective and not towards an interest specific to a single person: to create employment in a territory, for example.
  • Profit as well as lucrativeness is not sought and there is no individual appropriation during the exercise.

In the public service, there is no profit.

In the lucrative private sector, the profit generated will be distributed proportionately to the shareholders. Once they received their dividends, the money went out of the business. So it does not benefit the members of that community.

For the ESS, the money generated is indivisible and remains in the structure . It is then used to improve the business or to be stored as a reserve, for example. In the long term, the profits are therefore intended to strengthen the service to members.

How to define SSE?

Thus, the ESS brings together five types of structures : associations, foundations, non-profit mutual societies, cooperatives and commercial companies of social utility. All must meet the following principles: the pursuit of a social utility or general interest; democratic governance and the reinvestment of the majority of profits within their structure.

Their common objectives are to create local jobs that are not relocated and to support the creation of these jobs in social cohesion.

The Law of July 31, 2014 allowed the creation of the status of Solidarity Company of Social Utility (known as, ESUS approval) . Having this approval certifies that the company works, on a daily basis, in each of its projects, in favor of social utility, by creating jobs for a public that is far from it or by creating activity. on a local territory.

The impacts on the territory.

The ESS sector brings together 221,325 companies and structures in France in France . Its social impact on the territory is significant, because more than 2.38 million employees are part of this sector and more than 12 million volunteers.

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