National Consultation Conference on Social Economy
On 27 and 28 February the Economic Development Department, with support of the International Labour Organization, the Industrial Development Corporation and the Government of Flanders, organised the first Social Economy National Consultation Conference. The conference served as a launching pad for a broad consultation process to obtain input for the Social Economy Policy Green Paper which will be taken to the provinces during the course of the year. The conference was well attended with over 200 social economy practitioners, supporters, academia and government officials participating in discussions on topics such as definition, measuring the social economy, financing, regulatory frameworks and the future of work. The conference was hosted by Minister Ebrahim Patel, and attended by Minister Lindiwe Zulu, Deputy Minister of Public Works, Jeremy Cronin and the Director General of the ILO, Guy Ryder.
The General Representative of the Government of Flanders in Southern Africa, Dr. Geraldine Reymenants, gave the welcome address on the second day. She reiterated Flanders’ commitment towards the social economy in South Africa, citing that our focus over the past ten years has been on the funding of social enterprises, on research and academic collaborations, on training and skills development, and on changing “mindsets” around business and entrepreneurship. We have invested in the growth of the social economy in collaboration with other donors, international organisations, in particular the ILO, and most importantly, with many South African players in the social economy space. Dr. Reymenants emphasised the role of government as an enabler of the social economy, but explained that an active and sustainable cooperation between the triple helix of government, enterprises and academia is needed to unlock unused economic potential and to strengthen business and enterprises, while responding to societal and environmental challenges.