“Tunisia develops pilot projects for a social and solidarity economy”, Sami Mouley

ESS-Mouley2 Professor at the University of Tunis El Manar and Executive Director General of the Mediterranean Institute in Tunisia, Sami Mouley worked on the latest FEMISE report, entitled “Social and Solidarity Economy: a Driver for inclusiveness and job creation in the Mediterranean partner countries?”



Which sectors of the social and solidarity economy have a development potential?

ESS-Mouley3There are several social and solidarity economy (SSE) pilot projects in Tunisia which merit the support of financial institutions and the international community. These projects contribute to the development of self-sustainable businesses and access to sources of financing. They are justified not only by the particular economic context but also by the success of two associations: Asad and Enda.

Asad (Association de soutien à l’auto-développement), by supporting the development of self-sustainable businesses, works towards regional development and the fight against poverty and economic insecurity, with the goal of improving the incomes and living conditions of people living in isolated areas. In line with the work of Enda, crowdfunding associations also represent a viable alternative by providing financing for innovative sectors and new technologies.

There is potential for projects in the solidarity tourism and/or agritourism sectors as well as in the networking in the agricultural sector via associations that protect the agricultural territories.

ESS-MouleyAre there lasting solutions in terms of support and financing for SSE projects?

Alternative budgetary avenues for financing and supporting the structuring of a social and solidarity economy are yet to be explored. In France efforts are being made to promote this sector. The Caisse des Dépôts group and the public investment bank are managing a social innovation fund which may be transposable to Tunisia.

Innovative financing solutions could be elaborated with the use of Islamic banking tools and solidarity finance. A public-private partnership or an exclusive partnership with the private sector could be built around the concepts of corporate social responsibility (CSR) and socially responsible investing (SRI).

How can profitability and social development be reconciled?

By relying on a programme for evaluating and strengthening the institutional capabilities of SSE operators in Tunisia, several recommendations can be given.

They focus on the financial services sector and the actions to undertake with regard to the strengthening of measures for the inclusive financing of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (M-SMEs) and individuals in the regions.It involves reviewing the investment strategy in the microfinance sector and modes of intervention with regard to guarantee/securing provision in favour of M-SMEs. There is also the possibility of La Poste Tunisienne (the Tunisian post office) being given the status of a specialist bank which would encourage inclusive financing and the establishment of a specific budget heading for private equity
Interview by Nathalie Bureau du Colombier, Econostrum. www.econostrum.info.

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Photos: photo by Taysir, Econostrum