A Legal Approach to the Social and Solidarity Economy in Mexico

A Legal Approach to the Social and Solidarity Economy in Mexico

The idea behind the «One day, one team, one chapter…» series is to present the four books published in the framework of the ICSEM Project and the Empower-SE Action, Social Enterprise in Asia, Social Enterprise in Latin America, Social Enterprise in Western Europe and Social Enterprise in Central and Eastern Europe, and to introduce the so many incredible people who took part in the crazy “ICSEM adventure”!

A context marked by the use of various overlapping concepts and a lack of clarity

In Mexico, many types of organisations engaged in social entrepreneurship coexist. These types of organisations differ in many ways and are regulated by different laws. From a historical perspective, two key moments are important to understand the emergence of this type of entrepreneurship. The first one is the post-revolutionary period (1920s and 1930s) and the second one is the profound crisis of the Mexican economy that hit the country in the 1970s and 1980s.

The historical context in which social enterprises have emerged and developed in the country has led to many different empirical concepts being used, confusions and overlapping between these concepts and non-consistency between formulation in various laws and concrete use by different Mexican agencies.

In this chapter, the authors focus on one key example of such inconsistency in legal texts and concepts by analysing the “social and solidarity economy” and the “social sector of the economy”. The problem they address here is the lack of clarity that prevails in the country regarding social enterprise. The specific objective is to contribute elements that would allow for an improvement of public policies, so that these policies would better recognise and strengthen social enterprise in the country.

The chapter is organised as follows: First, the authors review the legal forms recognised in the Mexican Law on the Social and Solidarity Economy (LESS) and in the Catalogue of organisms of the social sector of the economy (COSSE). Secondly, these legal forms are confronted with the attributes of social enterprises such as they are described by the EMES International Research Network —an analytical framework that is used by the ICSEM project, of which this research is part. Finally, the authors conclude with some considerations regarding the role of public policies.

The country team: Carola & Leïla (Mexico)

Carola Conde Bonfil has been a full-time researcher at the Xochimilco Metropolitan Autonomous University (Mexico) since April 2009 and was previously a full-time researcher at El Colegio Mexiquense, AC (Zinacantepec, State of Mexico) for 17 years. She has held various positions in the federal, state and municipal administrations. She has been a member of the National System of Researchers of Mexico since 1994 and has had the Desirable Profile Recognition since 2003. She obtained honorable mention and recommendation for publication of her thesis in the Master of Public Administration as well as the University Merit Medal for the highest average of her generation in the doctorate in Economics. She is the author of six books, editor of three, and co-editor of two others; she has published 31 book chapters and 21 peer-reviewed articles on microfinance, public policy, social economy, and gender issues.


Leïla Oulhaj has a PhD in Latin American Studies from the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (2017-2019). She had previously obtained a BA in Economics (Catholic University of Louvain, 1993), a postgraduate degree in Development Studies (UCLouvain, 1994) and an MA in Population, Environment and Development Studies (UCLouvain, 1995). She is a specialist in the field of social and solidarity economy (SSE) and in the coordination, monitoring and evaluation of social projects. Her work experience has been developed at UNDP, John Snow INC, at the Catholic University of Louvain and she has been a full-time academic at the Universidad Iberoamericana Mexico City, where she coordinated the research area of the International Centre for Research on the Social and Solidarity Economy. Her main lines of research are: SSE and migration; SSE and gender equality; SSE and sustainability; solidarity finance; and financial inclusion.


Visit the Routledge website to get information about the “Social Enterprise in Asia” book as well as the full Social Enterprise and Social Innovation series. You can also contact these national researchers to learn more about their work or download the ICSEM Project’s flyer here.

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