Susan Steinman, Jerome van Rooij


South Africa is currently looking at its Social and Solidarity Economy (SSE) as a source of job creation and there is renewed interest in the sector as indicated in the new macro-economic policy, better known as the New Growth Path. While growth in some SSE Organisations is disappointing, some of the world’s best social enterprises can be found in South Africa – a developing country facing many challenges with the creativity that comes along with resilience in the face of adversity and poverty. In fact, South Africa is one of the first countries in the world to introduce a social stock exchange which has, since its inception raised R14.65million for 73 projects designed to benefit a total of 78,268 individuals.

Government policies are directed to a more inclusive economy and focus on previously disadvantaged individuals. While policies for the SSEO are there, the problems that occur are on the implementation level.

The NPO sector is emerging as a major employer – in particular of women and black people. Yet, access to finance remains a burning issue and some protective workshops find it hard to cope with the minimum wages laid down by the different bargaining councils. The decent work agenda may have to be compromised in terms of compliance with the minimum wage and health and safety regulations. Cooperatives have tremendous potential for job creation in South Africa and Government Departments are pushing for a higher success rate for these community-based organisations in the SSE. Social enterprises are emerging as an alternative to cash-strapped charities, but the rise of social enterprises is not supported by legislation and it is expected that South Africa will move in the direction of something similar to the “community interest companies” in the UK.

A body that can comprehensively represent all the different stakeholders within the SSE still needs to emerge. While South Africa has enabling policies and adequate consultation with stakeholders in constructing policies, there is a lack of “policy enablers” to ensure success at the implementation level. Should government be able to put “policy enablers” in place together with a system of thorough monitoring and evaluation, the anticipated jobs will be created.


South Africa; social economy; solidarity economy; public policies

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