Social Economy Concept Unpacked at Webinar
A workshop on exploring the concept of a social economy was hosted by the Regional and Local Economic Development (RLED) Initiative housed at the UKZN Graduate School of Business and Leadership (GSB&L).
The webinar event was facilitated by senior lecturer and the School’s Academic Leader in Teaching and Learning Dr Xoliswa Majola, while panel members were:
• Marshall Institute for Philanthropy and Social Entrepreneurship senior lecturer in Practice Ms Kerryn Krige
• UKZN-EDTEA RLEDI Project Manager Dr Simon Taylor
• Sivuno Consulting’s Development Planning and Management Practitioner Mr Vikani Funda
In his welcome address, KwaZulu-Natal Department of Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs (EDTEA) Deputy Director, Capacity Building and Institutional Development Mr Patrick Mbokazi said the social economy was a new concept in South Africa making information sharing initiatives, such as the webinar workshop, very important.
‘I met with representatives of eThekwini Municipality and will be also meet with officials from the Umgungundlovu district to take them through the KwaZulu-Natal social economic development programmes we offer through UKZN and DUT which show that people need to be educated about this concept so that they can support us,’ said Mbokazi. ‘EDTEA RLED in collaboration with UKZN decided to host this webinar so that we better understand the concept of social economy to enable our local economic development practitioners from the local sphere of government and the business sector to gain a better understanding of what the concept is all about,’ he said.
Krige shared insights on the social solidarity economy policy for South Africa.
‘The most important question that we always get asked and don’t have an answer for is: What is a social solidarity economy?’ said Krige.
She went on to explain that such an economy existed in a space between for profit organisations and non-profit organisations which represents a range of organisations such as cooperatives, mutuals, social enterprises and associations that exist and are driven by purpose, values and have very strong ethical foundations.
‘It’s about collective action for the collective good. What is important to recognise about the social solidarity economy is that it offers an opposite response to self-interest that is a natural and inherent part of the for-profit side of the spectrum - we see organisations exist solely for social good purposes and benefiting the communities they work in.’
Krige applauded and credited UKZN and EDTEA KZN for leading provincially in deepening the knowledge and understanding about the social economy across the country.
‘It was through these efforts that we trialled and piloted a lot of the research we did in 2019 that allowed us to get an understanding of what the social solidarity economy is. Our response as policy makers is asking what we can do to create an enabling environment for these organisations to be better supported,’ she said. ‘We can do this by improving access to markets, providing advisory services and training programmes, exposing people to networks and addressing the issue of access to resources. KZN holds a very special place in the South African social solidarity economy story because much of what is written in the policy document has been developed, thought through and tested in the KZN context,’ she said.
Taylor gave an overview of the RLEDI Social Economy Development Programme and its achievements to date, while Funda introduced the concept of social entrepreneurship to practitioners and the development planning and management community of practice.
Objectives of Funda’s presentation included helping to enable LED practitioners to assist KZN’s aspiring social entrepreneurs’ development programme applicants in their applications and nomination process as well as to consider reconfiguring their LED initiatives and interventions in the context of social entrepreneurship.
Words: Thandiwe Jumo