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Reciprocity among social enterprises. Tools and results – Warsaw October 2008 . Pierluca Ghibelli. Economy and reciprocity. In the economy a form of reciprocity is represented by the contract. A contract ( do ut des ) is similar to reciprocity but it is also very different.

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Reciprocity among social enterprises

Tools and results – Warsaw October 2008

Pierluca Ghibelli

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Economy and reciprocity

  • In the economy a form of reciprocity is represented by the contract. A contract (do ut des) is similar to reciprocity but it is also very different.

  • In the recent years, a form of genuine reciprocity has emerged thanks to the development of social economy. Social economy obliges “social” and “civil” economists to take into serious consideration genuine reciprocity within the economy.

  • Nowadays often economists talk about gratuity, relational goods, reciprocity, new words in the economic vocabulary.

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Social economy

Social economy refers to a third sector in economies between the private and the public sector. The Social Economy constitutes a significant movement worldwide, distinguished by its innovative, dynamic and resourceful nature. It is a movement covering an enormous variety of projects and activities, which put people and community, rather than profit, at the centre of their missions.

Social Economy enterprises have a peculiar way of doing business associating economic performance, democratic operation and solidarity among members. The sector includes cooperatives, voluntary and community organisations, foundations and associations. They are either employee or community economic development organisations that use trading activities to achieve their social goals and financial self-sufficiency.

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Social enterprise: Economical and entrepreneurial


1) An assets of production of activity runned on permanent basis

- do Not develop activity of advocacy or financial redistribution

- Are productive organizations

2) A high level of autonomy

- are created and managed in autonomy

- are Not managed from public bodies or other productive enterprises

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Social enterprise: Economical and entrepreneurial


  • 3) A significant level of economic risk

  • - The owners take on themselves the risk

  • - The same owners (partners) supply the capital

  • 4) The presence of a certain amount of employees

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Social enterprise: Economical and entrepreneurial


5) The production of benefits for the community

- Promote culture of the social responsability

6) An initiative promoted from a group of citizens

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Social enterprise: Economical and entrepreneurial


7) The enterprise governement is not based on capital

8) The management includes community’s stakeholders

9) A limited distribution of the “profit”

- It is not permitted the total distribution of the surplus

- It is “profit” oriented but not for-profit oriented

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  • answer to the problem of

  • sustainability of social

  • cooperatives

  • and any other form of SMEs.

  • The roots of sustainability are:

  • Territory

  • Population

  • Production systems

  • Institutions

  • The Social enterprise is rooted

  • In a specific community

  • The Social cooperative is the

  • strongest but not the only

  • Instrument to Social enterprise

  • Not all cooperatives today

  • enter the category of social

  • enterprise












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Social cooperatives

Social cooperatives are a specific form of social economy enterprises. In Italy they are recognised by the law (L. 381/91) as private non-profit enterprises finalised “at the human promotion and social integration of the citizens“. Social cooperatives produce social services (type A) and manage different kinds of activities providing work integration of disadvantaged people (type B).

Social cooperatives are generally joined in local consortiaon a territorial basis (provincial or metropolitan). A large group of local consortia is member of CGM, national consortium of social cooperatives.

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Two kinds of social cooperatives

“B” Cooperatives

carrying-out of sundry activities - agricultural, industrial, business or services - having as their purpose the gainful employment of disadvantaged people

“A” Cooperatives

management of social, health and educational services for minors, old people, physical, mental and sensorial invalids

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Network structure

  • According to co-operative logic, the lower level monitors the higher level (it holds the capital and chooses the administrators)

  • The consortia spread throughout the country are associated with the national consortium Cgm

  • Groups of social co-operatives form local consortia (provincial or metropolitan)

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Cooperative Movement

Cooperatives 71,000

Members 11,830,000

Employees 1,020,000

Turnover 138 billion €

Contribution to BNP 7.3 %

Mezzogiorno ca 40%

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The first experiences in Cgm network

  • multiplication through the “strawberry field” and spin-offs

  • the first “exchanges” among enterprises

  • the experience of the Global Grant OASIS (stage)

  • the promotional project of local consortia in the South of Italy (Meridia project)

  • experiences of internationalisation of social cooperation

  • some highly integrated partnership projects (social tourism, mental health, childhood…)

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The phases of reciprocity

  • PHASE 1 – NORTH-SOUTH SOLIDARITY (the first twinnings): the Policoro project promotes the first twinnings inspired to the political choice to support social cooperatives and consortia and based on a prevailing dynamics of gratuity (excellent results and some risks of charitable approach, paternalism)

  • PHASE 2 - STRUCTURING (National project Fertilità – projects Cariplo Foundation): strategic choice to exploit some opportunities to better structure development and reciprocal relationships (complex and costly). Focus on start-up/development of services and on consolidation of the organisational structure.

  • PHASE 3 – BUSINESS SHARING (Aid to cooperation Campania 1 and 2): share of regional opportunities. Reciprocity south-south. Implication of Poles and regional development companies (ASIS). Focus on the development of the enterprise, its skills, its market share and its performances.

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2001 STAGE – OASIS 27 “knots” in relation

2002 – FERTILITA’ – 34 “knots” in relation




(Active citizenship and local development – Feudi S.Gregorio – Comunità Minori – Work Integration – Forcella…)

68 national “knots” in relation

Numerous territorial relationships (parishes, municipalities, Unioncamere, Feudi S. Gregorio, province of Naples,..)



132 “knots” in relation

SOUTH SOUTH beneficiaries and promoters

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Tangram project – “Solidarity becomes enterprise” (2000-2005)

Since 2000 the National Secretariat of the POLICORO project (CEI – Italian Bishops Conference, Work, Youth and Development Bishops Bureau) implements – in collaboration with CARIPLO Foundation, under the coordination of the cooperative training institute INECOOP and the implication of the network of Consorzio Nazionale CGM – an important development action: the project “TANGRAM – solidarity becomes enterprise”.

The novelty consists in the development of RECIPROCITY actions among social co-operatives of Basilicata, Campania and Lombardia, thus creating stable relationships (company participations, joined participations to projects, consultancy, ATS...) to favour the transfer of experiences to support the development and the creation of social and economic actions in an environment of mutual help.

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Tangram project – “Solidarity becomes enterprise”(2000-2005)

Today the relation of reciprocity – through operational projects, cultural projects, friendships – involves, with different roles of promoters and beneficiaries and having started a reciprocity SOUTH-SOUTH:

6 consortia from Campania - 2 consortia from Basilicata - 1 consortium from Puglia

1 consortium from Calabria - 1 consortium from Sicily -1 consortium from Emilia-romagna - 13 consortia from Lombardia - 2 national consortia

52 cooperatives from Campania - 36 cooperatives from Lombardia - 1 cooperative from Puglia - 2 cooperatives from Calabria - 2 cooperatives from Piemonte – 1 cooperative from Sardinia - 1 cooperative from Basilicata

Additional resources for 6.300.000 euro

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Tangram project – “Solidarity becomes enterprise” (2000-2005)

  • The actions implemented

  • Development agents and Community animators

  • Meetings – contacts – sensibilisation – information (more than 100 cooperatives)

  • Work internships (150 days)

  • Technical assistance (more than 180 days of advice for start-up, development and consolidations for 26 cooperatives)

  • Creation of 20 new cooperatives, 5 consortia, from 42 to 100 cooperatives members of Federsolidarietà

  • 2 conferences (Bergamo and Naples)

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Project Fertilità (2000-2005)

An integrated action to support the creation and the development of social cooperatives (art 1 e 8 L 381/91). Contribution 100% on capital and investments

What is it?

On the proposal of the commission “Third Sector and Employment” created by a Decree of the Ministry of Labour, and composed by third sector experts and representatives of “private-social” organisations.

How was

it born?

To support the dissemination of different forms of social cooperatives (management of social, care, health and educational services, work integration, consortia) as:

1) A tool to expand and reinforce territorial systems of social integration and protection

2) An opportunity to create new employment

Why was

it born?

Sviluppo Italia, on the basis of the agreement with the Ministry of Labour – Direction for Employment which delegates the management of the whole project.

Who imple-

ments it?

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Fertilità Project (2000-2005)

Social cooperatives

Consortia of social cooperatives

It acts as leader of the process to support creation and development of social enterprises


Non profit organisations


Social cooperatives

Consortia of social cooperatives

Its task is to provide advice in the start up phase of the new enterprise




It provides support in the implementation of the project


It is located in the areas Ob. 1/ 2 and in the areas ex DM 14/03/95 (South of Italy and some additional areas)



Social cooperatives

Consortia of social cooperatives

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Fertilità project in Cgm network (2000-2005)

Out of 529 projects submitted, 116 have been approved. In Cgm network more than 50 promotional projects have been approved involving more than 70 beneficiaries. The main actions:

Valorisation of existing partnerships

Existing relationships have been reinforced

Strengthening of young cooperatives

Actions to strengthen and consolidate existing cooperatives have been preferred

Support to spin-off processes

Promotion and coaching are major factors of success for the development of new cooperatives

Strengthen of functions of consortia

Promotion of territorial grouping among heterogeneous actors, aiming at favouring local synergies. Key role played by consortia to promote individual projects.

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Reciprocity between Campania and Lombardia (2000-2005)




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Reciprocity projects Campania (2000-2005)


Fertilità national > 13 cooperatives from Campania >approx. 1.000.000 euro

Umanamente > 2 Consortia > approx. 500.000 Euro

Project Feudi > 1 cooperative + 1 start-up of cooperative > approx. 280.000 euro

Project Quartieri > 4 consortia > approx. 250.000 euro

 Aid to cooperation 1° call: more than 300.000 euro

Aid to cooperation 2* call … in course of evaluation

And more: Fondazione Vodafone Progetto Tutti a casa; Progetti Acri; etc.

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Reciprocity Campania- Lombardia (2000-2005)

Tangram project

27 consortia: 6 from Campania, 2 frm Basilicata, 1 from Puglia, 1 from Calabria, 1 form Sicily, 1 from Emilia-romagna, 13 from Lombardia and 2 national. More than 100 cooperative: 52 from Campania, 36 from Lombardia, 1 from Puglia, 2 from Calabria, 2 from Piemonte, 1 from Sardinia and 1 from Basilicata. Resources globally moved: 6.300.000 euro.

Project “Active citizenship and local development”, with the contribution of Cariplo Foundation

4 consortia from Campania and 3 consortia from Lombardia, more than 600.000 euro used for developing city boroughs. Contribution of Cariplo Foundation € 250.000. (2004-2005).

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Reciprocity Campania- Lombardia (2000-2005)

Calls “Aid to cooperation” of Campania Region. Contribution (50%) for investments of new and young enterprises, supported by “promoters” available to capitalise.

* 1° call: 6 cooperatives and 2 consortia from Campania (beneficiaries), 6 cooperatives and one consortium from Lombardia (promoters), contribution: more than 300.000 euro.

* 2° call: 26 beneficiaries (of which 2 consortia), 26 promoters (of which 3 consortia). More than 2.000.000 euro of contribution agreed. Involved as promoters cooperatives and consortia from Calabria, Sicilia, Campania, Lombardia, Piemonte and Emilia Romagna.

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Fertilità actions in Campania 2003-2005 (2000-2005)

  • Objective: transfer of good practices, organisation and know-how between a promoter / supporter (and guarantor) and a beneficiary.

  • Community enterprises, rooted in the territory

  • Reinforcing of consortia networks

  • Consolidation of twinnings

  • 12 actions implemented, 13 cooperatives from Campania involved, 13 cooperatives from Lombardia, 2 consortia from Lombardia.

  • Globally, the projects have reached an amount (between beneficiary from Campania and promoter/tutor from Lombardia) of 1.000.000 euro.

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Public Institutions (2000-2005)




Unioncamere Campania

Consorzio SIS (Milan)

Municipality of Benevento

Consorzio Amistade (Benevento)

Consorzio Camunia (Brescia)

Municipality of Santa Maria Capua Vetere

Consorzio Icaro (Caserta)

Municipality of Salerno

Consorzio La Rada (Salerno)

Consorzio Sol.Co. Bergamo (Bergamo)

Province of Naples

Consorzio Proodos (Napoli)

Consorzio SIS (Milano)

The actions – Project quartieri – 2005-2006

Promotion and implementation of proximity actions in urban areas, where there are people at risk of social exclusion. The project aims to develop actions for the citizens (put together existing organised resources) and among the citizens (associate citizens from the bottom) in order to prevent and reduce the caused of social exclusion. Research activities have also been carried out.

To implement the project Cariplo Foundation has provided funding for € 250.000. The total cost of the investment has been more than € 600.000.

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Promoter (2000-2005)




Azienda agricola Feudi di San Gregorio

Consorzio Gino Mattarelli

Cooperativa Parsifal (Naples)

Cooperativa Istmo (Sorbo Serpico - AV)

Cooperativa Maia (Sorbo Serpico- AV)

Cooperativa Berakah (BG)

Cooperativa La Vela (BS)

The actions – Feudi di San Gregorio (2004 –2008)

Objective: implication of social cooperation operating in the area of Feudi. The project has provided stable housing to disadvantaged minors and has promoted the agricultural resources of the area through work integration actions.

The economic value for the start-up (restructuring and start-up) and consolidation

of the first residential community is 280.000 €

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The actions – Aid to cooperation 1° call 2005-2008 (2000-2005)

Project to support cooperation, financed by Campania Region.

6 cooperatives and 2 consortia (beneficiaries from Campania), 9 cooperatives and one consortium (promoters from Lombardia). More than € 50.000 of capital from Lombardia, more than € 40.000 capital from Fondosviluppo, more than € 180.000 of services provided by promoters, more than € 450.000 investiments, more than € 300.000 contribution paid.

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Effects of reciprocity among cooperatives –1 (2000-2005)

  • Redefinition of the identity of social enterprise

  • Opportunity to create its own cooperative identity in the South of Italy

  • Occasion to reflect on its own identity and history of consolidated cooperative in the North of Italy

  • Increase of specific know-how

  • Aid and external “expert” support in the implementation of new activities

  • Possibility to re-elaborate and systematise knowledge and experiences

  • Personal skills

  • Acquisition of specific skills for the cooperative management

  • Increase of skills for cooperative advisors

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Effects of reciprocity among cooperatives - 2 (2000-2005)

  • Transferability of “making” social enterprise

  • Increase of the capacity to identify elements and modalities of transferability (in the consortium, in the territory, in new contexts and projects)

  • In Campania and Lombardia, in a circular process between individual / cooperative / consortium / territory

  • Dissemination of culture and social entrepreneurship in different areas:

  • Knowledge of “mature” cooperation and different contexts

  • Over the prejudices, valorisation of the effort to experiment and create within complex territories

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The strenghts of reciprocity in Cgm network (2000-2005)–1

  • Consortia and territorial coordination

  • Existing networks have facilitated the creation of partnerships and the implication of the local communities

  • The communities of practice

  • The communities already active within Cgm have provided the know-how needed to plan entrepreneurial development actions (namely the project “Minors” but also training, advice and quality)

  • Monitoring

  • Monitoring the performances of Cgm social enterprises has allowed to:

  • promote, choose and support entrepreneurial actions focusing on the sustainability of projects in peculiar areas

  • valorise the good practices of the network in the choice of promoters and tutors

  • create places where to reflect on, re-elaborate and formalise concrete experiences

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The strenghts of reciprocity in Cgm network – 2 (2000-2005)

Territorial approach

We have worked to promote reflection in the territory on the identity of social enterprises (creating connections, exchanges, favouring the understanding of the context, its needs, its ties and its resources).


The schemes to support and coach social enterprises have been conceived as “twinnings”, in a perspective to emphasise continuity of relationships and links among people and organisations.


We have chosen to implicate all the actors sharing responsibility at different levels: company participations, financial support, share of entrepreneurial risk.