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Economic reactivation through the social economy

News from Nicaragua | Friday, 21 December 2018 |

Members of the 'Women in Action' bakers' co-operative

Members of the 'Women in Action' bakers' co-operative

Who produces the wealth of Nicaragua?

Nicaragua’s wealth is created by foreign capital, national capital and the social economy. The social economy is the least recognised despite the fact that it generates 40% of the country’s wealth and provides employment for 90% of the workforce. It is made up of co-operatives, associations, small and medium businesses and farms, and self employed workers such as street sellers.

Ariel Bucardo of the National Council of Co-operatives (CONACOOP) highlights the importance of the social objectives of this sector: ‘Our aim is not just to raise the personal living standards of individuals with few resources but to create and support co-operatives, associations, and small and medium businesses that join together with the social objective of seeking improvements for everyone.’

Those involved in the social economy have been the most severely affected by the violence, instability, economic stagnation and drastic reduction in the GDP since 18 April.

The majority of the more than 120,000 jobs lost, particularly in tourism, were in the social economy; the violence of the road blocks that paralysed the country from May till July prevented freedom of movement particularly affecting those already marginalised and impoverished with no savings, the majority of them women.

As Ariel Bucardo explains:‘We support democracy, freedom of expression, and the right to peaceful, civic protest but what happened was a violent protest that violated the human rights of the population.’

The social economy becomes a key driving force in the reactivation of the economy

Organisations that make up the social economy are:

* the National Council of Co-operatives (CONACOOP): 5,652 co-operatives in agriculture, transport, fishing, housing, and savings and credit.

* Confederation of Self employed Workers (CTCP): 65,000 members involved in a huge range of economic activities including street sellers, mechanic and carpentry workshop owners, money changers, taxi drivers, craftspeople, and litter pickers.

* Nicaragua Council of Micro, Small and Medium Businesses (CONIMIPYME) representing with 20,300 businesses;

*National Union of Small and Medium farmers (UNAG) with 45,000 individual producers;

* the National Union of Farming and Fishing Producers (UNAPA), with 450 cooperatives and small farming and fishing businesses.

These organisations now form an umbrella organisation called the National Council for the Social Economy (CONADES) which, with government support, is now the key driving force in the reactivation of the economy in all fields.

As Leonardo Torres, CONIMIPYME explains: 'We are facing new challenges every day: a reduction in sales and credit, increasing costs and debt repayment. Despite all this we resolved to work with social economy in order to ensure the daily supply of the products and services the public needs’.