Social and Solidary Economy: How to?

by Valentin Baillard @Valentin

Hi all,

After attending a conference+meeting with a prominent director of a company involved in such an economy model, we had a hard time figuring out how the system could work. Even him. The idea is about designing a sustainable business where two metrics are used: money, but also social considerations. The employees and high-end directors and executive council members are paid in a fair manner (the director is paid 15 times the lowest salary in the company). The company is a holding and has no capital (is not owned by shareholders). Running hospitals, implementing new technologies in retirement houses, finding homes for migrants, following drug addicts in their weaning... The strength of the company is a dense and agile networks of professional actors (jurists, civil engineers, electrical engineers, plumbers...) that can be effectively deployed on specific local issues or provide useful advices. The company is an incubator for many start-ups, puts 10% of its turnover (1 billion $) in research & development, yields 20% growth each year, starts to replace the government in some social services areas, and is investing and growing internationally.

So the question is: how is all of this possible, and what would it mean for the future? What should we think of, what should we be afraid of, or happy for? Is this a manner of employing skilled entrepreneurs for the common good by reaching out to a market that was usually covered by mediocre innovationless government? Or is this just great for now, while the director is actually a "nice guy", before the company starts to rule lives once it gains monopole? This is so confusing. It seems the only thing that keeps this company from doing wrong is the commitment and moral values of its executive members, but it works! They are doing much more, and much better, that what the government used to, and without them this would be hundreds of thousands of people whose lives would be worse than it is with them.

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