Although social economy is a recent concept in Romania, there is a long tradition of some forms of social economy, from as early as the beginning of the past century. Even during the period of the communist regime, the cooperatives held a significant share of the economic activity. For some counties, particularly in southern Romania, the activity of the craftsmen cooperatives accounted for about 50% of the economic activity of that county before 1989.
The cooperative sector didn’t just provide a framework for the economic activity. The large cooperatives were functioning according to the pattern of the socialists enterprises, providing services for their employees and their families (kindergartens, doctor’s office etc.). For this type of structure, the period 1990-2000 meant the dramatic reduction of the activity, by the sale of assets or shutdown due to the new economic conditions. After 2000, the activity of the cooperatives continued to shrink stronger in the areas where it used to be predominant before 1989 (for instance, Teleorman). According to http://www.banknews.ro, at the national level, the turnover of the cooperatives decreased by 9% in 2008 compared to 2007. A similar trend was noticed for the number of employees and members: The number of employees decreased by more than 14% in 2007 compared to 2006, while the number of members decreased by 13.5% during the same period (source: calculations using data from the Annual SMEs Report, 2008)