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Asian Forum for Solidarity Economy to Be Held in October 2007 under the Sign of Compassion

One of the main keywords in solidarity economy is “differently”: producing and trading differently, but also financing differently . . . and measuring the economy differently. By its side, CSRSME Asia has placed another keyword, “compassion.” This year’s Asian Forum in Manila will be looking at how these translate into action.

Coalition of Socially Responsible Small and Medium-sized Enterprises in Asia, or CSRSME Asia, is the self-explanatory name of an organization that began germinating in Kuala Lumpur in 2000 and is now a full-blown organization that has facilitated business dialogs through five Asia-wide conferences involving more that 700 individuals representing 100 entities from 15 Asian countries.

Today, CSRSME Asia is in the midst of preparing the Asian Forum for Solidarity Economy of October 2007, which will be held in Manila (Philippines), preceded by an electronic forum. More than six years of background work, real-live experiences and their evaluation, among others, will be feeding this notable event.

Since 2004, CSRSME Asia has focused on making a reality of its vision of an alternative, compassionate economy with socially responsible SMEs as its base. It organized a series of consultative workshops with local SMEs in the Philippines, savings groups, NGOs, faith-based organizations, and fair-trade organizations to lay the groundwork for a multi-stakeholder process that will bring together socially responsible producers, consumers, investors, and service providers in an integrated supply chain that will set in motion the principles and standards of an alternative economic system called “Bayanihan Compassionate Economy” (BCE). Bayanihan is a Filipino word that denotes “solidarity,” helping and caring for each other.

The initial target of this initiative is 150,000 members from around 5,000 Bayanihan Financial Centers (BFCs) established in over 600 municipalities and cities of the Philippines. The BFCs are autonomous, informal solidarity finance institutions owned and managed by the people themselves. To enable these BFCs to do business with each other and support solidarity-based economic initiatives, CSRSME Asia is working out the establishment of a Bayanihan Banking Window (BBW). BBW is a banking facility that addresses the basic liquidity problems of non-bank development finance institutions (DFIs): temporary excess liquidity or temporary liquidity shortfall.

Some 20 partner organizations will meet on January 31, 2007 to discuss the BBW as a mechanism for intermediation of funds among DFIs. A learning journey on BBW will commence in February 2007 and culminate with the Asian Forum for Solidarity Economy in October of the same year. The learning journey is meant to build trust and confidence among the prospective partners so as to provide a stronger foundation for concrete proposals of partnerships among the DFIs.

The people’s struggle for a life in dignity depicted

On the occasion of the January 31 meeting, a giclee-print exhibit of the paintings of social realist artist Athena Santos Magcase-Lopez will be on display.

Social realism in the Philippines came about in the spirit of the Filipino people’s struggle for freedom in the tumultuous decades of the seventies and the eighties during the reign of Ferdinand Marcos. The new art movement was led to instill in the people an awareness of the painful and grim realities that were often shut away by denial. In her art work, Athena recounts Philippine historical narratives with a personal touch, integrating her family and friends, and her experience. She also shows the working class as builders of their modern-day communities, in strong identification with the spirit of Bayanihan, from the rice and coconut farmers to the fishermen, the sugar workers and the weavers.

For further information, visit the Web site for the Asian Forum for Solidarity Economy.

Themes involved

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