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Sharing experience and ideas about improving the lives of ordinary people by making our organizations, our governments and our markets, all operate for the benefit of the people. In particular, by making self-help enterprises more effective and sustainable by achieving their purposes and better serving their members.
Rediscovering Self-help and Mutual Action
Self-help enterprises (SHEs) - what are they and what do they do?
Millions of people worldwide are members of mutually owned enterprises that can positively change their lives. Together, they control their self-help enterprises (SHEs), such as cooperatives, credit unions, mutual insurers, building societies, friendly societies, community enterprises and many other types too.

SHEs exist to serve their members
This distinctive form of enterprise exists to serve members, their families and communities, they should also help members build a better future. SHEs work for people with widely differing needs; for example, marketing produce, supplying farming inputs, getting healthy food at fair prices, accessing financial services such as credit and savings, insurance and mortgages, providing decent housing, health, and care services, maintaining shops, pubs, and transport in their local area, or by managing their workplaces.

     View or download a diagram that shows how SHEs relate to all other forms of enterprise

Market intervention
SHEs intervene in the market in the best interest of their members, this can be in their role as consumers, as producers, as workers, or as members of a specific community. Groups of people decide to work together with the objective of improving their position within a market. The primary aim of their joint action is to secure a ‘better deal’ for members. The alternative to taking mutual action usually is to remain at the mercy of those who dominate, manipulate or fail to serve specific markets.

The following pages are grouped under three headings: Self-help enterprises, Organizations and Levers of change. However, all pages are interconnected and part of the same approach to helping people to improve their lives.

The author acknowledges the rights of the various enterprises featured in photographs on this website

Updated: March 2020 © Edgar Parnell 2020

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