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NuMI-EcoSol’s History

Before NuMI-EcoSol became a center in the organizational structure of UFSCar, it was an Extension Program named Regional Incubator of Popular Cooperatives at the Federal University of Sao Carlos (INCOOP in Portuguese). Some facts about INCOOP’s history and its current structure are presented below.

INCOOP was created in 1998 from the initiative of some extension centers, it was designed as an area of multidisciplinary work, directed to knowledge production simultaneously to intervention, aiming at developing self-managed economical enterprises as an opportunity of generating work and income for excluded population and consolidating solidarity and cooperative principles in the society. INCOOP was constituted as an Extension Program connected directly to UFSCar’s Pro-Rectory of Extension, and since the beginning, it has presented as its main purpose the incubation of self-managed collective economical enterprises, with the perspective of promoting Solidarity Economy. The incubation consists of systematic, continuous and permanent monitoring of groups of people that are organized to constitute or consolidate as collective and self-managed enterprise, in any economical activity, in the perspective of creating and consolidating productive chains.


Photo of INCOOP’s first building at UFSCar in 1999.

Photo of INCOOP’s same head office some years later

Since INCOOP was created until 2007, it incubated cooperatives located in the region of Sao Carlos. Having incubation as central in its area of activity, INCOOP contributed to the creation and consolidation of at least 16 solidarity economical enterprises (SEE) in many productive activities, such as cleaning, food, sewing, handcraft, residues, carpentry, derivatives of organic sugar cane, among others, working in different cities, as São Carlos, Matão, Catanduva, Jaboticabal, Ribeirão Preto, Rio Claro, Itapeva and Araras. It established connection with several partners, such as municipal governments, unions and civil society entities. It also developed and executed many projects participating in 20 proposal announcements in order to raise funds, having received the resources from most of these proposals during its existence. Moreover, it educates the team of undergraduate students who participate in the center by receiving scholarships or as technical coordinators or interns, and other partners, on Solidarity Economy.
From 2007 to 2011, INCOOP had as its main area of activity two territories: a rural and an urban one, aiming at promoting their development. The urban territory is the neighborhood named Jardim Gonzaga and its surroundings, located in the city of Sao Carlos; the rural territory is a settlement located in the city of Itapeva, SP. From that period on, INCOOP began to advise groups that would constitute, besides economical enterprises, other Solidarity Economy initiatives, such as exchanging fairs, productive chains and trade networks. It also considered the relevance of articulating sectorial policies, as health municipal policies, education, social assistance, housing and environmental sanitation, focusing on generating income through collective work and cooperative practices. In addition, other elements started to be taken into consideration in those territories, as different social actors, markets, productive chains, flows, public policies and others. Aspects related to Territorial Development began to be incorporated in its activities, such as sustainability in its multiple dimensions (social, cultural, institutional policy and environmental), besides the economical one.


During INCOOP’s existence, professors from different departments of UFSCar participated in the center (Psychology, Civil Engineering, Materials Engineering, Occupational Therapy, Nursing, Languages and Literature, Physical Education, Agro-Industrial Technology and Rural Socio-Economy, Teaching Methodology and Sociology). Other employees from different sectors of UFSCar also participated, as well as researchers and professors from other universities.
INCOOP was – and still is – part of a university incubators network of solidarity enterprises, the ITCP network, which includes approximately 50 similar units created in universities all over the country. It was based on the experience gained in the scope of this extension program that emerged the proposal of establishing a “Multidisciplinary and Integrated Center for Study, Education and Intervention in Solidarity Economy”, as a teaching, research and extension special unit, in accordance with UFSCar Institutional Development Plan of 2004.
The creation of NuMI-EcoSol was proposed as a strategy to initiate an effective institutionalization process favoring more stable conditions for the advancement of activities related to Solidarity Economy at UFSCar. The proposal’s relevance was acknowledged by UFSCar’s University Council when they approved it in 2011. In 2013, the center received its own budget allocation to fund basic structuring and working expenses, despite being insufficient to guarantee its activities, and it had its Internal Regulation approved by the University Council.
Therefore, from the beginning of 2012 by having changed from an extension program (INCOOP) to a teaching, research and extension center (NuMI-EcoSol), NuMI had its Internal Regulation approved and it proposed a new way to organize its activities according to Lines of Actions, described in another topic. We also had the opening of a new head office, located in the campus north area, beside the former one. It was build based on the effort of its team members to raise funds from the Federal Representative Luiza Erundina’s parliament amendment.
The opening was advertised in local newspapers and had the participation of several professors, researchers and authorities, among them Professor PhD. Targino de Araújo Filho, University Rector; Oswaldo “Barba”, the mayor of Sao Carlos at the time; Newton Lima, Federal Representative and Paul Singer, National Secretary of Solidarity Economy. Some photos of the event are presented below.

 

 

 

 



Photos of the opening of NuMI Eco-Sol new building in 2012.