Participatory Enterprises Project – PARTICEN


IfE’s Participatory Enterprises Project – PARTICEN – helps facilitate community-initiated economic development that is viable, sustainable, democratically governed and pro-equality.


Intertribal Wind Power

(Intertribal C.O.U.P. wind turbines for tribes)


Community-initiated Projects: IfE’s PARTICEN Project is a multi-model grassroots approach designed to make widely accessible a variety of viable, sustainable, democratic, pro-equality economic alternatives. Our approach is to facilitate and empower effective local grassroots decision-making and actions and global collaborations to confront inequalities and create pro-equality social, economic and political alternatives.


We have no intention of pushing one particular model of development. We will work through local partners to initiate discussions in local communities that are interested in launching some form of community-owned and controlled economic development. Many of these local partners and communities will be in our Field Hearings network already. We will first learn from the communities which types of economic solutions they have tried in the past and which approaches they think would work best for them going forward. While we will not push particular models, we will also be selective about which models we work with: they will need to meet certain criteria (see below). Read more here about the various economic models we will discuss with communities.


Activities of Project

(1) We are reviewing relevant historical examples of alternative economic mechanisms to see what worked, what failed, and why. We can learn from these examples, and also become aware of the roadblocks to our goals and make strategic plans to overcome obstacles.

(2) We are developing a global network of contacts involved in various alternative economic activities, from cooperative banking and financing through housing and health care to agriculture and manufacturing.

(3) We are developing a portfolio of ideas, examples, expert contacts, and platforms to make available to interested communities and groups.

(4) We are making plans to assist communities by facilitating community discussions on needed economic development, and then putting them in touch with organizations, experts, and sources of financing that can help them make progress towards the pro-equality economic activities that they themselves choose to initiate.

(5) In the future we may develop a website platform to solicit donations and loans to increase the resources available to communities and groups; however, we will not engage in micro-lending, but will support viable businesses at an appropriate scale for successfully meeting needs in the community.


Metrics for Evaluating Projects

* Does it meet community needs?

* Is it environmentally sustainable? (i.e. does it utilize resources and landscapes in a way that can be perpetuated over time without degrading the environment)

* Does it help to generate increasing levels of equity and equality?

* Is it socially sustainable? (i.e. does it promote equitable and stable social relationships)

* Does control of the project rest within the community?

* Do profits, if any, return to circulate within the community?

* is there community ownership? buy-in?

* Is the project democratically governed?

* is it legally viable? what changes would be needed to have a more supportive regulatory environment?

* is it economically viable? (if not, why not? can we help create environments in which good businesses are viable?)

* is the business itself sustainable over time?

* if it fails, will it be catastrophic for the community? or recoverable? can the resources be recovered? will the steps accomplished thus far be useful?


Read more about these ideas in the flyer for the joint workshop on Participatory Economic Development at U.S. Social Forum: US Social Forum Workshop 2015  This workshop was cosponsored by Initiative for Equality (IfE) and Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign (PPEHRC), June, 2015 (Philadelphia).


Working with IfE’s Network of Field Hearings Communities:  IfE is currently working with more than 300 local partner organizations in over 80 countries, conducting Field Hearings in very poor, socially excluded or otherwise marginalized communities. Our local partners conduct public meetings, focus group discussions, or one-on-one interviews to learn what these communities are experiencing, and to ask for their analysis of trends, and what they think are the causes of the problems. You can read more about these Field Hearings here.

IfE’s Field Hearings communities are the primary focus of our PARTICEN Project. This is because we have already established relationships with them through our partners, and thus have a good sense of the circumstances in the communities. If you would like to help a community to launch a community-initiated participatory enterprise, we will ask you to first conduct a Field Hearing, and then follow up with community discussions on economic development.



To get involved with IfE’s Participatory Enterprises Project, please contact us at