Complementary local currencies & solidarity finance

Kit RégionalESS N°10

June 2021

Réseau des collectivités Territoriales pour une Economie Solidaire (RTES)

In connection with the renewal of regional executives in June 2021, RTES proposes a Regional SSE kit to raise awareness among candidates and provide tools for future regional teams wishing to support the social and solidarity economy (SSE).

This kit will include about twenty practical sheets, based on the principle of the MunicipalESS Kit published in 2020, illustrated with examples, and presenting in a synthetic and concrete way how a regional council can include the SSE in its policies. Sheets 1 and 2 of the RegionalESS kit are SSE presentation sheets. They can be consulted under the references Social and Solidarity Economy: What are we talking about? (fact sheet n°2504.) and Why implement a cross-cutting policy to support the social and solidarity economy? (fact sheet n°2505).

Fact sheet n°10 insists on the regions’ involvement in the development and promotion of solidarity-based finance.

Solidarity finance links savers who are looking to give meaning to their money with companies that have a strong social and environmental purpose. It is thus an important partner of the regions in their policy of support to the SSE.

The regions can also support the development of complementary local currencies (CLCs), recognised by the 2014 SSE law and registered in the monetary and financial code. There are now more than 82 MLCs in circulation in France.

Levers of transition and resilience in the territories, solidarity finance and local currencies also promote the relocation of economic activity.

There are several possible levers of action:

Raising awareness and communicating with the general public

The institutional communication channels of the regions: website, social networks, magazine, advertising campaign, … can be mobilised in order to increase the awareness of local currencies and solidarity finance, encourage their use and highlight the projects financed in the territories.

Regions can also support the visibility of solidarity finance by supporting awareness raising events such as the Solidarity Finance Week.

Covid-19: the Sol-Violette mobilised against food insecurity

Since its creation, the Sol-Violette, a local currency in circulation in Toulouse, has involved the public in difficulty in its project, notably via the maisons de chômeurs and solidarity grocery shops. Faced with the increase in food insecurity caused by the Covid-19 crisis, the Sol-Violette association has set up solidarity vouchers for people on modest incomes. The Occitanie Region is providing financial support for this action, as part of its « Eating well for all » scheme.

Create a regional endowment fund and invest in solidarity finance

The status of this sponsorship tool offers great flexibility in its creation and operation. The founding local authority can participate in the board of directors, thus retaining a certain amount of control over the organisations or projects financed.

FemuQuì, a private equity company in Corsica

FemuQuì is a regional private equity company supporting the development of regional SMEs in Corsica through equity interventions. Its capital comes from the solidarity savings of small and large private investors but also from institutional partners, such as the Collectivité de Corse which holds 27% of the capital. Other financial cooperatives are supported by local authorities, such as Herrikoa in the Basque Country, which is supported by the Nouvelle Aquitaine region, or Autonomie & Solidarité by the Hauts-de-France region.

Encourage the articulation of local currencies with different public policies

Create a regional call for projects to encourage the development of complementary local currencies as tools to respond to economic, ecological and social needs identified in the territories and to encourage their articulation with other public policies, tools, methods or actors (food accessibility, sustainable tourism, rural revitalisation, etc.).

For territories where a local currency is not yet in circulation, such calls for projects can enable the constitution of groups of actors who will carry out the project of creating a local currency in a multi-stakeholder cooperation logic.

Cross-sectoral support for the Eusko in the New Aquitaine region

The Eusko, a local currency used in the French Basque Country, has been Europe’s leading local currency since 2019, with 1.2 million Eusko in circulation.

Various departments of the New Aquitaine Regional Council are supporting the development of the Eusko: the SSE department, via its « Digital for the collaborative economy » scheme, for the design and development of applications linked to the digital transition of the Eusko to open source software; the Associative Life department, via its aid scheme for associative employment and for small-scale investments; the Tourism department, as part of the Innovative Tourism in New Aquitaine scheme, for the design and launch of the Vacances en Eusko operation (see sheet).

The Rollon in Normandy, the first regional currency

Created in 2018 by the Normandy Region and the Association pour la Monnaie Normande (AMNC), this currency was initiated by the President of the Region during the 1st regional SSE conference in June 2016, and has been the subject of several steering committees. Complementary to existing local currencies, the Rollon aims, thanks to its regional scale, to offer more opportunities for the circulation of the currency, in particular for companies and traders whose suppliers or intermediaries are generally not present locally. This 100% digital currency can be used via a mobile application on a smartphone.

Promoting support and accessibility to solidarity finance

Regional councils can in particular :

Use ethical finance for regional public investments

In the context of calls for loans, a region can make the choice of a financier conditional on compliance with extra-financial criteria included in all calls for tender (share of projects financed that are climate-friendly or related to polluting industries, degree of transparency on the bank’s financing, presence or absence of investments in tax havens, etc.).

Ethical banks such as Nef or Crédit Coopératif have set up a loan offer dedicated to local authorities. In Hauts-de-France, Crédit Coopératif has set up a Rev3 savings account, in partnership with the regional council and the Chamber of Commerce and Industry, which enables private individuals to participate in the financing of innovative projects relating to the « Third Industrial Revolution ».

Workshops to present solidarity finance in Brittany

In Brittany, Finansol promotes the development of solidarity finance skills among SSE creation support actors by organising workshops on solidarity finance for TAg BZH (tools that promote the emergence of local collective and innovative enterprises), the Region’s SSE clusters, and EPCIs.

To go further

  • Review of the Collectivités & monnaies locales exchange day, in Grenoble, March 2019, and additional file on local currencies in the RTES members’ area

  • Study on local currencies: general interest currencies, Mouvement Sol, April 2021

  • The Finansol website to find the Zooms and Barometers of solidarity finance, thematic studies and practical guides, and the page of the Nef dedicated to its offer to local authorities.

  • Note Politiques territoriales de résilience et de transition écologique : la piste des monnaies locales, Terra Nova, June 2020

  • Article Monnaies locales : 10 leviers pour les développer à grande échelle, Socialter, March 2019

  • La finance solidaire - Analayse socio-économique d’un système de financement, Amélie Artis, 2012