Like the traditional economy, the social economy aims to develop economic activities that produce goods or services.
However, it is different from the traditional economy in that its purpose lies in the interests of the community, strengthening of social cohesion and sustainable development.
The boom experienced by companies of this type in the Walloon region led the Walloon legislative to dedicate the Decree of 20 November 2008 to the social economy. (Decree concerning the social economy Moniteur Belge of 31 December 2008, p. 69056 and after).
This decree defines the concept of social economy, identifies the public tools in this area and organises representation and consultative bodies for this sector.
The decree establishes four ethical principles for the social economy, namely:
- the service must be aimed at the community or members of the community, rather than making a profit;
- managerial autonomy;
- a democratic decision-making process;
- people and work must take precedence over capital when distributing income.
The goal of the “social economy pilot projects” provision is to support social-economy pilot projects and activities that promote the social economy.
Any individual or company may submit a proposal for a social-economy pilot project.
Each year, a portion of the social-economy budget is allocated to a number of social-economy projects, in order to stimulate the sector and facilitate the development of a range of pilot projects, with the most conclusive resulting in the implementation of new measures which will continue to be funded by decree.
This concerns optional subsidies, which are granted by the Minister with the social economy in mind, based on a number of criteria.
In light of this, it must be a project that concerns the social economy in the broadest sense, by, for example, having an aspect related to sustainable development, respect for the environment or even fair trade.
The subsidy granted will cover a non-recurring need for funding, thus constituting a type of “financial boost” to facilitate the launch of a specific activity; in this specific case, the project should then find another source of funding to ensure its viability, such as a long-term subsidy or the provision of equity.
Under certain conditions, this subsidy may recur, that is, it may be renewed annually, over a maximum of three years, particularly in the context of the project's pilot phase.
Pilot projects that are funded in this way may be subject to an evaluation of the concept implemented and, for the most conclusive of them, the opportunity to continue them may be considered, via the filing of a decree concerning their continuation and structured financing.
In addition, several subsidies are allocated to promote the social economy, notably through seminars, prizes, studies or even information and communication tools, in both electronic and paper form.
Funding-application forms must be sent to the Social economy department. Files submitted before 7 September will be processed in the current fiscal year. Files submitted after this date will be deferred to the following fiscal year.
Coordinated laws on public accounting, coordinated on 17 July 1991.
Walloon budgetary decree