Historically, mutual aid was a foundation of social welfare in many countries. Nowadays, mutual benefit societies, as a complement to national social security systems, provide solutions to the challenges faced by these systems, whatever their level of development.
Their long-term goal is to establish protection for all, without exclusions based on an individual's risk profile or income. In that regard, mutual benefit societies strive to act in accordance with public policy and its principles of universality, solidarity and mutual responsibility.
Attention is focused today on social protection floors. This approach reflects political recognition of the need to invest in social security at a time when economic and financial crisis has demonstrated the limits of an all-encompassing, free market approach and when citizens have, equally, rejected a wholly state-based approach. The social enterprise sector, which includes mutual benefit societies, thus has a greater role than ever to play in providing social security.
The Technical Commission on Mutual Benefit Societies has collected ample evidence of good practices demonstrating that mutual benefit societies have great potential to extend social security coverage and improve the adequacy of benefits and services.