C.I.T.I.E.S’ knowledge transfer projects in Seoul


<photo credit: Seoul Social Economy Center>

C.I.T.I.E.S’ knowledge transfer projects in Seoul

17 – 20 April, Seoul

As a part of the joint project between the C.I.T.I.E.S and the GSEF, CITIES team which consists of experts from Quebec based leading social finance organisations such as RISQ, MCE Conseils and CAP Finance payed a visit to Korea from 17 ~  20 April to enhance knowledge transfer efforts between the two regions. During their stay in Korea, the team led workshops for Seoul’s social finance practitioners and labour organisation representatives on the experience of Quebec in promoting social finance as pivot to the promotion of social and solidarity economy. The C.I.T.I.E.S team also had a series of formal and informal meetings with government bodies and SSE organisations in Korea to discuss cooperation opportunities and to assist recent Korean government’s initiative of fostering social finance as a crucial means to promote SSE.

Among workshops and interviews conducted, we chose a topic on 'Analysis of social economy enterprises' to introduce readers some of the key takeaways of the workshops held in Seoul (17 ~ 18 April). The workshops presented methodological frameworks for analysing social economy organisations with particular reference to Quebec based financial organisations’ know-how for fostering them, which played a critical role for the development of Quebec SSE since the inception of renowned Chantier de l'économie sociale.

* The key points below are based on a summary of the newsletter article from 세모편지 (newsletter of Seoul Social Economy Center, full article is available in Korean here).

Four main analytical components (checklists) to evaluate social values of SSE organisations (for self-assement) are as below.

1. Does your organisational missions work?

All social economy enterprises' missions/visions are their raison d'être hence, every decision and action should be consistent in line with the missions of the organisations. For instance, cooperatives’ mission should meet their members’ needs and for NPOs, they should consider whether their missions match with the needs of the community they are working for.

2. Does your organisation uphold social values?

Unlike for-profit enterprises, social economy enterprises should consider how their business can create positive impacts on their society. While for-profit enterprises, economic output could be the most important criteria, for the social economy organisations, democratic participation should be weighted and evaluated equally along with the financial aspects.

3. Does your organisation have transparent and democratic governance structures?

Governance is one of the most important aspects to measure the sustainability of social economy organisations. Importance of human resources, role of managerial boards, and the balanced governance can be three important criteria for evaluating organisations' governance structure.

4. Is your business embedded into the community?

One of the main reasons that social economy enterprises tend to survive longer than for profit enterprises, they are embedded in their communities. To what extent social economy enterprises are known to their local communities, local governments' recognition and appreciation for the social economy enterprises, should be important questions to ask in measuring the embeddedness. 


<photo credit: Seoul Social Economy Center>

Four main analytical components to assess economic values of the social economy organisations.

1. Has your organisation established the sales strategies in line with the missions?

In the case of weak marketability of business, it could be due in part to either less appealing products or lack of social issues / external recognition or lack of income sources. For each possible scenario requires different marketing strategies and approaches and they should be based on the mission of the social economy enterprises.

2. Is your organisation being managed in tandem with the uniqueness / salience of social economy?

Social economy enterprises have special traits that differ from traditional for-profit enterprises. Thus, it requires careful examiniation; consistency of operations as well as mission implementations should take the salience of social economy into account.

3. Does your organisation have quality human resources?

Managerial staff in social economy enterprises are critical agent of leading business and make important decisions. Hence, their expertise, ability of encouraging and advising staff, ability of negotiation, communication and business mindsets should be assessed in an integrated manner. Also it is crucial to motivate staff for the successful operation of the organisations.

4. Does your organisation have a potential to achieve stable growth? 

For the development of social economy enterprises, sustainability should be assessed in a mult-dimensional way including society, economy and environment.

Social economy enterprises are required to pursue financial sustainability while creating social values. In Quebec, social economy enterprises are not narrowly defined and evaluated by a handful of criteria. Rather Quebec takes more integrated approaches in measuring social economy enterprises including social and economic values as summerised above along with basic financial aspects.

*You can download the full version of the ‘Guide for analysis of Social Economy Enterprise 2nd edition here: Link (RISQ online store)