Social and Solidarity Finance: Tensions, Opportunities and Transformative Potential

United Nations Research Institute for Social Development

Year: 2015

An UNRISD Workshop in Collaboration with FES and ILO

Recent financial crises have brought to light the social and environmental harm that can be caused by instability in the financial system. Social and solidarity finance (SSF)—which includes a range of forms of finance and exchange that pursue a social mission—may offer less volatile, and therefore more sustainable, alternatives. At a time when the development community is deciding how to finance the ambitious post-2015 sustainable development agenda, the potential for SSF to contribute to a more stable financial system that is conducive to sustainable development should not be ignored.

The workshop objective was to start conceptualizing social and solidarity finance, and to evaluate its transformative potential as a pathway to sustainable development. The participants included 29 experts in the fields of alternative and microfinance, anthropology of money, social and solidarity economy (SSE), and gender. Academics and practitioners from the global South and North, as well as staff of United Nations agencies, took part. They presented a rich body of evidence on the diversity of forms of SSF, their role as a financing tool for SSE and local economic development, and the tensions they face when trying to scale up operations.

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