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Social Economy for Social Empowerment

Social Solidarity Economy (SSE) is a relatively new concept of the social economy with an impact on the way of production. In comparison to existing market practices, the SSE paradigm is about starting and growing a business in which all economic activities of production, distribution and consumption are organized horizontally and managed democratically. SSE has the ability to take the best practices that exist in our present system (such as efficiency, use of technology and knowledge) and transform them to serve the welfare of the community based on different values and goals.

Following this idea, many initiatives are starting to adopt the concept in their way of working, and becoming part of this growing community, and, to help on the implementation of it, some platforms were created to help us achieve SSE, one of them is our resident Dock.

The idea behind Dock

The Dock initiative was formed in 2017, inspired by the idea of creating business that have principles of democratic governance and sustainable methods of production. Dock is a platform that was founded to help such initiatives. They focus on supporting the people, enhancing the SSE concepts and on strengthening the initiatives and the overall social economy ecosystem.

 

How it works

Dock is currently connecting and consulting SSE initiatives providing 3 different operations which are: 1. the infopoint, 2. the helpdesk and 3. the forum.

Infopoint, is a free of charge consulting area for getting information and answering questions in SSE matters, while Helpdesk, involves supporting SSE actors at any stage of development, from the initial idea and team formation to initiatives and entities that are already economically developed. Finally, Forum works as a cooperative network linking those actors by sharing a common ground.

They have presence in the European SSE community and collaborate with other initiatives to increase the visibility of the SSE movement. To that end, they also organize events and participate in delegations and interventions like in the organizational team of UniverSSE 2017. They currently participate in the Αttica’s SSE entities Union. At European level, they are members of the pan-European Ripess EU network.

SSE in Greece

In Greece, SSE initiatives are in an early stage, however, the successful launch of such paradigms is becoming a political priority, acknowledging that SSE has the power to mobilize economic and social forces in a cooperative way in order to relaunch the productive model of the country in a more fair and democratic way.

Dock has successfully initiated the “Fruit of Solidarity” campaigns. They provide a networking and collaboration platform between Greek agricultural producers and international stakeholders. “Greenland” action for instance, is a Social Cooperative Enterprise, helping olive oil producers in Kalamata to embrace fair trade practices and expand to international markets. The organisation succeeded in exporting all of their products (more than 20 tones of olive oil and almost 10 tones of olives) in Sweden, France, Luxembourg, Belgium, Netherlands and Japan in 2017. The importance of this was major if you consider that the producers sold their goods without an intermediate and bargained their own prices, ending up enjoying 60% of the profits which is 20% higher than the one they would have if they were participating in traditional business.

The field has potentials to evolve through the years of 2020 and 2021, giving a new perspective of business and production that values human capital before economic capital and builds a sustainable and socially fair environment.

If your are interest in knowing more about SSE and other business trends, keep it up with Stone Soup Facebook page.

Max approaches life as a journey and Athens is a beautiful traveling destination. Read more about his recent life.

Max B. is from Germany, he studied industrial design and worked with his father as a Sound designer for the film industry in Berlin. Living his whole life in Berlin he felt the urge to travel and live somewhere else.

He has been traveling with a small Volkswagen van in Europe so he has experienced the nomad life. A year ago he decided to build a home in a more spacious van and travel further away. Initially he thought of traveling to Asia or India but when Max arrived at his first stop in Athens, he found it hard to continue his journey. Although the intention was to visit for only a few months, thanks to the people, nature, food and music he decided to extend his stay.

“Greece is the type of country in Europe where it feels good being here; let’s say that people are more ‘Mediterranean’. The approach is more open and things are more easy going around here.”

It’s the first time for Max working from a coworking space. “Is nice to talk to all this different kind of people. I work with a computer and I am focus on the screen all the time, so is good to have someone that you can have a dialog from time to time and cook together.”

Greece as the first stop of his inner journey

Max’s bachelor thesis was about Modern Nomads. He says that the concept of the term fits his lifestyle though he prefers not to call himself a nomad as his journey is more spiritual. “The work I’m doing is a mean to make my living. My actual focus is on observing my inner processes. Giving room to allow and understand fears, asking myself, what’s love, why we pursue pleasure and thus get a deeper understanding of the Me and the general suffering of mankind.

“In the last year it became very obvious, that I cannot continue working, more or less just for the sake of earning money and not seeing anyhow my contribution to improve the general wellbeing of people and the world in that we live in. Greece seems like a good starting point to walk on new paths.”

Now, Max is finishing his work for a German criminal investigator TV series and starting to work on an independent Greek film about a group of friends in a squat in Thessaloniki and the refugee crisis, a documentary with some storytelling.

 

Summer Internship at Stone Soup in Athens, Greece

As I was finishing my 2nd year of University in Vancouver, Canada, I started to apply to the summer internships that I was most excited about. Some of these were organised by AIESEC, the largest youth-run organisation in the world.

I was very motivated to experience interning abroad as that would not only give me the opportunity to work in a professional environment, but I would also get to explore another country. When I went through the opportunity portal on AIESEC’s website, the position of a marketing assistant at Stone Soup caught my eye. At first, the name ‘Stone Soup’ intrigued me and I was curious to learn more about it and when I did look into it, I immediately knew that this was where I wanted to intern in the summer.

When I got the news that I was selected for the position I was ecstatic but soon, I was also quite nervous. I did not know how different the work environment was going to be, I was nervous about the place I would be living at, whether or not I would be able to connect with other interns, the kind of clothes I was required to bring as part of the dress code, or the kind of food that I would eat for 2 months. These were just few of the concerns that were spiralling in my mind before even leaving for Greece.

However, now that I have spent 2 months working at Stone Soup, I feel more accomplished than I would feel at the end of an internship in Canada. That is because, not only have I gained some basic understanding in marketing and some marketing tools such as SEO, but I’ve also had the chance to get to know a lot of residents of Stone Soup. It has been great listening to their stories and learning from them.

I’d like to express my gratitude towards every single person that I’ve come across and interacted with at the Stone Soup space. Thank you for resolving all of my worries and for giving me the opportunity to have the best first internship!

Residents at Stone Soup Comment on GDPR Compliance

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) aims to introduce a single legal framework applicable across all EU member state which would result in a more consistent set of data protection compliance obligations for businesses. Not only does GDPR concern businesses working with data within the EU, but also the non-EU companies. The GDPR has been passed keeping in mind the safety and security of the users’ personal data. Therefore, GDPR is focused on achieving a high degree of data security. Knowing that their data will be safe, the clients will put their trust in companies which would be beneficial as that would result in an increase in the companies’ customer base.

However, besides the advantages of a complete GDPR compliance, companies are facing a few problems in regard to full compliance. Too much regulation in terms of adding consent prompts for everything might reduce customer’s enjoyment of online services. Another common problem of GDPR compliance is the costs to be incurred in order to fully comply with the regulation since, not all companies can meet these costs. When asked about her opinions on complete GDPR compliance, Xanthippe Lemontzoglou, a data analyst working from Stone Soup feels that 90% compliance with the GDPR might be a better idea which would involve companies to do the best they can without trying to cover extreme possibilities, yet being aware of them. She feels that complete compliance might not be beneficial for either the companies or the users.

Other than its effects on the companies and the users, GDPR also has an impact on the designers as it will alter how the products are developed both in Europe where the law applies in every country, and in the United States, where many companies have European customers. Thus, this will partly reshape the work that the designers do. According to Dimitris Niavis, a designer currently residing at Stone Soup, designers are required to act on these changes almost immediately and that involves taking into account current and future User Experience. The information now needs to be more accessible and the users should have an option to easily opt out of the subscriptions.


Therefore, GDPR now requires companies to respect the users more than ever and this can be done by making some prominent changes at the company level which would involve training of the employees keeping in mind the new regulations, and also the user experience.

Although, there are many visible cons of the GDPR compliance regarding the costs incurred by the companies and ignorance on the user’s side, these problems are only temporary. The companies and the users need time to adapt to the new regulations and once that is in place, GDPR will prove to be effective in terms of the user experience and cybersecurity.

If you would like to read more, refer to the following websites:

https://www.fastcompany.com/90171699/what-is-gdpr-and-why-should-designers-care

https://www.endpointprotector.com/blog/gdpr-the-pros-and-the-cons/

https://www.cbsit.co.uk/2017/07/28/gdpr-risks-business/

https://www.welivesecurity.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/Is-GDPR-good-or-bad-news-for-business.pdf

https://www.tripwire.com/state-of-security/security-awareness/gdpr-the-good-the-bad-and-the-ugly/