Giving Compass' Take:

• Samit Aich explains how governments and NGOs can work to support informal workers who make up 61% of the global workforce to enable circular economies. 

• What does informal work look like in your area? How can invisible informal labor like care work be brought into the light? 

• Learn about policy shifts to reduce inequalities in care work

The informal sector and its workers form a significant portion of the world’s economy. According to 2018 Women and Men in the Informal Economy: A Statistical Picture from the International Labor Office (ILO), 61% of all workers globally are informally employed. That means almost two billion workers remain invisible from any government’s eye and hence are often kept from accessing crucial social and financial resources. Across all regions and governing systems, the informal economy is diverse and includes a range of small-scale and large enterprises.

Here are seven necessary ecosystem principles that panelists identified during our discussion on this topic at SOCAP18.

1. Inclusiveness in the informal sector.
Country level, state level and local level governments need to acknowledge and appreciate that all informality need not be culled in the guise of ‘smart development.’ Accept inclusive economy stakeholders and support them. Don’t demonize or exploit them. These stakeholders need governance or policy support, not financial doles.

2. Solutions that address the unique role women play in society and in the economy.
Women occupy a major portion of the informal sector, working as home-based workers, agricultural labor, construction labor, street vendors, waste pickers,etc. at comparatively much lower wages and sometimes as unpaid labor. Non-comprehensive solutions that do not take gender into account are designed to fail.

3. Activism and citizen advocacy.
Citizen participation and activism add a distinctive zing to this sector.

4. Empowered ecosystem players.
It is wrong to assume that most local administrators are corrupt or have vested interests. They work under tremendous pressure, have vested lobbies influencing them, are low paid, are low on motivation, and sometimes are incompetent. Ecosystem players, like capacity building bodies, nonprofits, and training institutions, have to have strategy and stamina to make these bodies work.

5. Policy interventions and exemplars based on experiences.
Geographic ‘ideas inter-portability’ can be an important tool to transfer domain knowledge and learnings to like-to-like parts of the world.

6. Up-skilling and capacity building.
Up-skilling and capacity building is not be contained only within the ULB’s. These needs are also needed within the circular economy stakeholders themselves.

7. Scaling impact and multi-stakeholder alignments:
The problems are huge and solutions need to be matching.

Read the full article about supporting informal workers by Samit Aich at Social Capital Markets.