A public co-working space supporting the Social and Solidarity Economy

Montevideo municipality, 2019

urban sustainability exchange (use)

Enlace is the first co-working space in Uruguay to be managed by the public sector. It provides spaces for solidarity-based enterprises to develop their activities and hosts regular events for the public to engage and participate in. Enlace links the public sector to entrepreneurship and fosters co-management and joint responsibility in the promotion of the Social and Solidarity Economy. It allows the exchange of experiences and the identification of joint solutions to problems from a private (third sector or civic sector) - public perspective.

A public co-working space supporting the Social and Solidarity Economy.

Enlace is the first co-working space in Uruguay to be managed by the public sector. It provides spaces for solidarity-based enterprises to develop their activities and hosts regular events for the public to engage and participate in. Enlace links the public sector to entrepreneurship and fosters co-management and joint responsibility in the promotion of the Social and Solidarity Economy. It allows the exchange of experiences and the identification of joint solutions to problems from a private (third sector or civic sector) - public perspective.

Backgrounds and objectives

In Uruguay, cooperatives and social economy organizations do not have a strong presence in sectors such as software, design, audio visual or creative industries, although they generally operate in the service sector. One of the reasons for this is the lack of public policies to promote the social economy in these sectors.

Enlace is a platform that fosters the innovation of enterprises in sectors that are not very dynamic and/or are managed in a traditional way, due to a particular public policy or market segment constraints. In addition to the process of stimulating innovation and knowledge exchange between solidarity-based enterprises, Enlace provides the opportunity for public - third sector co-operation.

The objectives of Enlace are:

  • To contribute to the consolidation of the social and solidarity economy as an agent of development and innovation, thus strengthening an environment for co-operation and continuous improvement.

  • To contribute to the development of community organizations and providing visibility for their agendas of social inclusion.

Implementation

Enlace opened in June 2017 and occupies 1500 square meters in a central area of Montevideo. The space is managed by the Social and Solidarity Economy Unit of the Municipality of Montevideo.

Through a public call for proposals, 35 social projects were selected based on their high quality in terms of projection, profile and sector of activity. The different sectors represented at ENLACE include software, audio visual, training, technical advice, consulting, non-formal education for children, cultural activities, care, maintenance, and architecture.

Through Enlace, actors have learned to incorporate technology in a more systematic way in the search for solutions. Groups that were completely or partially excluded from the use of technologies have found a way to overcome their exclusion through their involvement in Enlace co-working space. Moreover, beneficiary groups have actively participated in the projects developed through Enlace, which constitutes a change in the execution of social and inclusion policies.

Financing and resources

Through an agreement between the National Institute of Co-operativism and the cooperative movement, the City of Montevideo allocates funds for the management of the building and training programs for enterprises located at Enlace. The cost of Enlace is $15,000 per year, this includes the building lease, operating expenses and human resources. 90% of the total amount is contributed by the City of Montevideo.

In addition to the funds provided by the City, the enterprises based at Enlace make financial contributions that are defined according to their use of the building, the hours and spaces they require and their sector of activity. Therefore, if an enterprise does not have financial capacity, then no monetary contributions are required. Additionally, entrepreneurs contribute with volunteer working hours to the management of the building.

Results and impacts

Enlace has proved to have a positive impact on community organizations and the cooperative businesses involved, providing them with a platform for growth and co-operation. New organizations have adopted the social and solidarity economy through Enlace.

  • 20 co-operatives are housed on a permanent basis

  • 5 community organizations are housed on a permanent basis

  • 40 institutions, cooperatives and organizations have used the space

  • 180 people work permanently at Enlace

  • 2500 people have participated in events hosted at the space

  • 5 Cooperative businesses have used Enlace as an incubating space

Barriers andchallenges

  • Many of the organizations operating at Enlace are still in their initial stage of development and require time to establish themselves.

  • The team managing Enlace is still in the learning stages.

  • Specific information technologies need to be introduced to make management more efficient

Lessons learned and transferability

  • Participation and co-management in the promotion of the social and solidarity economy has proved to be an efficient tool for public policy, and effective in measuring achievements.

  • The participation and involvement of beneficiary groups has reduced the need for public resources to be allocated to a mission already fulfilled by the social and solidarity economy.

Références