Lotfi Ben Aïssa, academic and expert in social and solidarity-based economy: “The social and solidarity-based economy, an alternative to the current development model”

For Ben Aïssa, SSE can be a fruitful reflection to bring everything back on track and, above all, to orient the compass towards an articulation that is sorely lacking, which articulation connects economic viability and social, societal and environmental purposes.

It turns out that the Social and Solidarity Economy (SSE) is perfectly combined with territorial appeal. Given the values ​​underlying its concept, SSE can help strengthen the attractiveness and thus the connection to territories. But is it still necessary to have the tools and mechanisms, especially the legislative ones, to enable local authorities to establish the concept and values ​​of SSE at the local level?

Generally assimilated to a territory’s ability to attract and retain mobile factors of production and / or the population based on social, urban, political, spatial, economic, cultural and environmental considerations, territorial attractiveness in this sense can fully play its role as a lever for local, inclusive and sustainable development. To better illuminate SSE’s contribution to the territories, Lotfi Ben Aïssa, academic and expert in social and solidarity economics, articulated his post during the forum on “Territorial attractiveness as a lever for development”, recently held in Sousse, approx. the relationship between the social and solidarity-based economy and the territories. The event was organized by the international organization Cities Alliance and was an opportunity to reflect on the issue of territorial attractiveness and on methods and tools for promotion and effective implementation.

You must activate the reference text related to SSE

The expert began his intervention by recalling the basis of the SSE. He stressed that the SSE sector with its values, its social purpose combined with economic profitability can be an attractive niche for young people and women. He specified that if Tunisia has a reference text on the SSE, its activation will go through the promulgation of several decrees and ministerial orders. “This new, incipient sector needs to be recognized politically. This match has been won as we have a reference text on SSE. This basic text provides both institutional tools and funding mechanisms dedicated to the sector. “This is a prerequisite for this sector to be fully developed, for it to fully play its economic role and therefore to be attractive to young people, for whom we do not offer much,” he said. He added that the law regarding SSE Recalls the cardinal principles of this new sector, namely human precedence over capital, limited lucrativeness and democratic governance, Ben Aïssa said that SSE can be a real alternative in the current context where we are reflecting on a new model of development. “The model that has prevailed for decades is now totally exhausted. We are looking for an alternative model. SSE can be a fruitful reflection to bring everything back on track and above all to orient the compass towards an articulation that greatly shortcomings that articulate link economic viability and social, societal and environmental purpose, based on its values.S SSE can offer an alternative and even an evaluation network for public police ticks, but also for the behavior of the private sector ”, he notes.

Concrete examples

The member of the Tunis City Council stressed that, at the legislative level, the Code for Local Authorities, thanks to Article 109, establishes a strategic partnership between local authorities and the ecosystem in connection with the creation of the SSE. He said that in this context, the municipality of Tunis is trying to implement the principles of SSE through a number of initiatives, such as the establishment of an eco-waste collection center, but also a unit for the treatment of household waste covering the Greater Tunis area.

For the first project (eco-déchèterie), Ben Aïssa said that it is a project that combines SSE with the circular economy. It consists of creating a value chain that enables the initial sorting through the collection, then transfer and marketing of household waste. The project will require the involvement of a certain number of sheds, which will be organized in the form of an economic interest group (GIE). The transformation will be supported by young graduates (unemployed or with vocational training certificates), who will be organized in the form of cooperatives operating in accordance with SSE values. In terms of the household waste treatment unit, Ben Aïssa specified that it is a large project of a few tens of billions of billions of dinars. As the project is on a territorial pole dimension, the project brings together several private and public actors.

To emphasize the importance of SSE as an attractive factor for the regions, the expert mentioned an unprecedented experiment conducted by women employed in an industrial textile unit in the Mahdia region. According to the academic, the company in question was unable to cope with the crisis related to coronavirus and its fallout and went bankrupt. The workers then refused to sit still and decided to invest their severance pay to make it an action to take over the company. For the expert, it is in fact a successful experience that has made it possible to transform the “capitalist factory” into an industrial production cooperative, but above all, it has made it possible to shed light on SSE’s role as leverage. for local development.

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