The Xarxa d’Economia Solidària de Catalunya, commonly referred to as “XES”, constitutes essentially the most important community organization for the social and solidarity economy in Catalonia. Operating since 2003 as a non-profit association, it forms a network that connects a multitude of solidarity economy projects (including the Catalan Integral Cooperative) with the aim of strengthening and fostering the social and solidarity economy. This networking is achieved through the local and sectoral networks set up by XES for its 160 member-organizations in Catalonia, as well as through Fira d’Economia Solidària de Catalunya, the trade fair it has been organizing in Barcelona for the last four years, which is attended by more than twenty thousand visitors.
In addition to networking, the activities of XES are centered on lobbying Catalan municipalities for the adoption of an appropriate legal and regulatory framework for the social and solidarity economy. In parallel, XES is involved in several projects, which include the organization of training courses (such as the summer school it launched this summer and a new educational program starting in September), the creation of an interest-free mutual credit market based on a local social currency (called “ecosol”), the publishing of books and the InfoXES journal, the development of an indicator (called “Balanç Social”) for measuring the social and environmental contribution of social economy organizations and the collaboratively-developed map “Pam a Pam” for the Catalan social economy.
Internally, the organization of XES’ activities is based on a dozen autonomous committees made up of about 60 volunteers, whose work is coordinated by the so-called “permanent committee”. Aside from the committees, for the purpose of strategy formulation and decision-making XES holds three assemblies per year, in which all members of its network can participate.
For its economic sustainability, XES depends on the fees paid by its members and on public funding it receives for specific projects (e.g. the Catalan government provides funding for the creation of local networks and the Municipality of Barcelona for the development of “Balanç Social”), while the costs of the trade fair it organizes every year in Barcelona are covered by the rent (of 100-150 euros) paid by the participating producers for their stands.