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Category business: Bureaucracy, Funding, Market orientation, National regulation/legal forms, Political trends/Welfare system, Type of SE/ legal forms,
Country: Argentina

Social Enterprises in Argentina

Leopoldo Blugerman - Centro de Innovación Social - CIS, Adrián Darmohraj and Mariana Lomé - Universidad de San Andrés and members of CIS

Abstract: The development of social enterprises in Argentina follows a unique interaction pattern related to the scheme of articulation of the State, civil society, and the market. The state model that has regulated these ties has also changed over the years, shifting from a liberal state, with little intervention in welfare dynamics except education (leading the first social venture experiences to focus on the areas where the state was not strongly present, with a number of legal formats, including cooperatives, mutual funds, civil associations, etc.), to a state model that, in the mid-20th century, was strongly involved in delivering other social services. At the turn of the century, the Argentine state moved to a scheme with a lesser presence in those areas. In the early 21st century, the State became more engage in social dynamics, and this scheme currently seems to be changing once again. At the same time, the economy has suffered extreme fluctuations, with severe social, economic, and institutional crises. This evolution has fueled the emergence of social organizations that, in the early 20th century, were closely associated with several religious groups, immigrant communities, or working classes, later emerging increasingly in several industries and focusing on several social services. Against this backdrop, social enterprises in the second half of the 20th century concentrated primarily on delivering a number of social services (largely in education and healthcare). Only in the late 20th century did these dynamics seem to give way to more dynamic corporate foundations, socially inclusive ventures, etc. In the late 20th century, amidst a critical setting, many scarcely professionalized players emerged, building emergency social ventures (garbage collectors, failed business companies taken over by workers). At the same time, though with greater momentum in the past decade, a shift started to change the traditional dynamics of Argentine social enterprises, which only offered social services earlier and have begun to focus on several kinds of goods and services. Thus, social enterprises have started to show greater management professionalization and sophistication, while the public has become more interested in social issues. A growing number of organizations have been created to work on this sector’s research and training. In this environment, social venture accelerators and more complex social enterprises are emerging and concentrating on several issues. At the end of this period, discussions were underway to provide a specific legal framework for this sector considering recent changes in its dynamics as well as the cross-penetration of social enterprise, private, and social realms’ rationales.