The ESS is an acronym that only speaks to those in the know. However, what do Macif, the Red Cross, Système U, Crédit Mutuel or even the Fondation de France have in common? They are all players in the ESS: the social and solidarity economy.
This sector represents nearly 10% of GDP in France and represents 10% of private jobs. It brings together associations, mutual societies, cooperatives and foundations, all non-profit and within which people pool their knowledge and actions for purposes other than sharing profits. It has been enriched by the contribution of commercial companies which place the general interest at the heart of their economic model to maximize their impact: their economic purpose is to serve the social problem they want to resolve.
While these actors, pioneers of social innovation since the 19th century, are key contributors to the general interest and create real economic, social and environmental value, their actions remain little known. The ESS constitutes a privileged vector for achieving a fairer and more sustainable society in accordance with the sustainable development objectives defined in 2015 by the UN, which France has decided to adopt.
Thanks to its territorial roots, its democratic governance and the absence of shareholders to be paid, the ESS provides answers to the major challenges to be met: the sharing of wealth; an exercise of power that respects the environment and the interests of stakeholders; the climate and environmental emergency or the reduction of systemic inequalities (access to education, health, housing, gender equality, etc.) and support for vulnerabilities (loss of autonomy, disability or poverty).
Proof that the ESS is not considered at its fair value, no measure to support solidarity businesses was retained by the government in the version of the budget submitted to Parliament for a vote. But it’s never too late to do the right thing.