The cooperatives in the social economy in Belgium

French-speaking Belgium, the social economy is traditionally defined as follows: "By social economy refers to economic activities producing goods or services, carried out by companies, mainly cooperatives and / or social purpose, associations, mutual funds or foundations, whose ethos is reflected by the following principles: 1 purpose of service to the community or members rather than profit purpose; 2 management autonomy; 3 democratic and participatory management; 4 primacy of persons and work over capital in the distribution of income. "

(source: Wikipedia).

The cooperative companies with a social purpose and / or approved by the National Board of cooperation are, by nature, the promoters of a socially responsible entrepreneurship.

The cooperative entrepreneurship is an expression of shared values ​​and based on solidarity. In a cooperative, the members, who satisfy a dividend limited, pursue a common goal broader than just profit-seeking and personally involved in the company. Whatever the size of their financial investment, all partners have a real voice in the company policy.

Cooperative societies that operate according to cooperative values ​​and principles may obtain a license from the Minister of Economy to become a member of the National Council for Cooperation. This approval gives them certain advantages.



A few figures

In Belgium, there are nearly 500 cooperative enterprises approved by the National Council for Cooperation (see list below) mainly represented in the Walloon region and within the agricultural sector. In Flanders, there is a better balance between service cooperatives, consumer and agricultural cooperatives. Yet these are not registered cooperatives that about 1% of Belgian cooperatives (E-note 6, pulpit Cera 2008). They are the ones who want to say loud and values ​​of cooperation.

Besides these cooperatives approved, many companies adhering to the principles of cooperative entrepreneurship, including SCRLFS have not asked their approval to the National Council for Cooperation.

At European level, there are 260,000 cooperatives cumulative 160 million members, a third of EU citizens.

Puce Voir la liste des coopératives agréées par le CNC
Puce Voir aussi l’e-note 6 de la Chaire Cera
Puce Et les chiffres de l’observatoire de l’économie sociale



Where to form cooperative entrepreneurship?


Since spring 2010, the Management Boutique offers a one-day training entitled "I can create my cooperative."

Advice agencies in the social economy can also assist you in setting up a project (c (voir la page création de notre site

). Most of them also offer training.

To enter the mind, you can also try the Network Exchange and Solidarity Practices and Alternatives ( Réseau d’Echanges et de Pratiques Alternatives et Solidaires)  which offers training in cooperative culture.

Their plan: putting people at the center of business and foster the development of civic engagement, enabling young people to explore and define the basis of a professional activity and a life project and pulsing new achievements in the field of social economy.


Some examples in a variety of sectors


Cooperatives can be found in many areas but the three branches are best represented agriculture, pharmaceutical distribution and the financial sector.

In finance: we include two large cooperatives that are  Cera and Crédal ... quite keen to give added value to your social and ethical money ... And the European Federation of Ethical and Alternative Banks


In green energy: This is an area par excellence where we must come together to invest are inter alia Ecopower, a cooperative based in Antwerp, which has its own wind turbines since 2000 and has more than 15,000 cooperative , including 13,000 purchase electricity it produces. There are also Aeolian citizens Eoliennes citoyennes which aims to invest in energy production at the start of renewable energy sources: wind, water, solar and biomass ...


In the building: These include Murmuur, winner of the 2009 Award of the Social Economy in the active façade renovation in Brussels, which aims to provide to vulnerable groups and low-skilled jobs in the long term if possible, Sun green Soleil Vert, a cooperative social purpose that stands out in green building, including insulation by blowing cellulose or Les Tournières  the real estate company with a social objective which aims to stimulate collective ownership.

In recycling: La Ressourcerie Namuroise  whose niche is the overall management of bulky waste and Filbois, cooperative active inclusion in the recycling timber yards and container park are good examples. We should also mention groupe Terre, although it no longer has the legal status of cooperative, but different structures organized SAFS (Société anonyme social purpose). The spirit is the same.

In the accompaniment the creation of activity: Again, there are also cooperatives, called Cooperative activities that support the people who want to create their own jobs under independent status. Cooperatives activities are supported by the government and federated within Coopac. Their creation is fairly recent (Law of 1 March 2007 laying down miscellaneous provisions, Art. 80 et seq.)

In fair trade: There "Du monde à la maison ' cooperative dedicated to fair trade brands.

 Présentation vidéo

In Inclusion in there original experiments as EXARIS Intérim  (02 220 31 20), the first office of temporary office in Brussels (created in 2007) which is aimed at young people under thirty holders at most a lower secondary diploma. There are also much older companies that have reached a remarkable size, such as la Lorraine à Arlon, four cooperatives - that together - totaling more than fifty years of experience - more than 300 workers and occupy (maintenance of offices and parking lots , big or small painting, lawn care and maintenance of forests; rental and installation of tents, household help.) or even stronger Ekoservices, with 18,000 customers and 1,500 housekeepers aware of the eco-friendly products.


 And finally, the arts, there are Scènes et Fil, which includes five SCRLFS costume designers around Liège workshop design and costume making service to arts and entertainment.

 Présentation vidéo