♣ Strengthening the local economy

"♣": Estrategias específicas empleadas por los estudios de caso para incrementar su nivel de auto-sustentabilidad.Pueden estar en inglés o español. Por favor usa el traductor del menú lateral 

"♣": Specific strategies used by the case studies to increase their degree of self-sustainability.They might be in English or in Spanish. Please use the side menu translator
  • [This/the initiative] is an alternative market created so that elderly farmers from the Sanggang and Baoshi villages of Hebei Province (China) can earn extra income through the direct sale of the remaining products of their subsistence economies to consumers in the city of Beijing. Eggs, chickens, fruits, etc., products that do not require any type of special production and that generally do not have buyers within their communities because they are similar to those generated by the neighbours.
    • The Sustainable Entrepreneurship Program, for example, implements demonstrative initiatives for resources’ management and the acquisition of legal certifications to increase family income generation, increase food security, and reduce the impact on the environment, as socioeconomic strategic components to improve the quality of life, environmental conservation, and regional development (e.g. the communitarian ecotourism or the crafts production with local forest’s resources).
  • This program responds to the fact that the Amazonian communities live in an extremely vulnerable region where land occupation and resources mismanagement are the prevailing practices, and also that the government conditional cash transfers’ development model Bolsa Familia have resulted in the disappearance of local production and extreme dependency from the communities to external subsidies
    • Alumni work as, for example, solar engineers, coordinators of craft workshops or of the local early childhood education centres, cooks for the[This/the initiative] community, or as cultural workers in the community. Others extend the benefits of the program into the mainstream education system at the Siksha Karmi and Siksha Niketa schools. Further examples of this integration among projects lie in the training offered to teachers by the [This/the initiative]’s Health Centre to identify common health issues in their students, and in the vocational training that the children receive.

    The communities themselves prepare the teaching and learning materials. Among them, a workshop of disabled people prepares toys made of recyclable materials for the Night Schools, and a carpentry workshop provides them with science toys. Maps and posters displaying the alphabet hang on the walls of the schools. Children frequently need to share the learning materials that are available.

    • To complement the curriculum, the program also provides some vocational training
    • Youth unemployment skills training.
    • Creating local cooperatives:[This/the initiative] promotes that an enterprise invests in opening a local cooperative where an agreement is made with the participants that they will take care of their families and communities (e.g. bring their children to school), provided that a job is being offered to them and that there is already a buyer for their products (with fair prices). The cooperative’s surpluses are used to reinvest in the cooperative, cover the organization’s operation costs, pay the salaries of the cooperative’s employees, and invest in the community – e.g. on one of the NGO’s initiatives in that same community. With such a model, enterprises benefit with the tax deductions (Corporate Social Responsibility), and this ensure suppliers. The community, on the other hand, benefits by settling cooperatives that could stimulate local production, promoting employment to the families and reducing migration rates to the cities (as happens with the[This/the initiative] and the[This/the initiative] Project). It also benefits from the agreement made with the participants on taking care of their families and communities, and form the investment that is done of the surpluses into initiatives that help improve its overall living conditions.
    • Finding enterprises whose employees match the donations collected for community sponsorship. Differently from the matching/parity schemes used by[This/the initiative] and[This/the initiative],[This/the initiative] usually uses this scheme with enterprises that work permanently with one particular region/population (e.g. a coffee enterprise that buys most of its coffee from one region). The scheme[This/the initiative] uses is to link the enterprises employees with the communities they work with is implementing a dynamic where each employee donates a certain percentage of his salary to the NGO’s initiative/program in the community, and the enterprise doubles that amount. This strengthens the wellbeing both of the community and the company’s employees. The employees are invited to inquire in their enterprises’ Human Research Department if their company already has a “matching gift program” and join it. The sponsorships are intended to a specific target: ensure the community’s self-sustainability in an agreed period of time. The money to find the partner enterprise comes from the[This/the initiative]’s main branch, and it is recovered from the money the enterprise provides in the sponsorship budget. This budget is allocated into capacity building programs for the community.[This/the initiative] is a Civil Association and each of its local offices are Civil Associations as well, and not a part of[This/the initiative]’s main office. So the budget goes to increasing the community Civil Association’s self-sustainability (training them on getting funds, managing programs, establishing cooperatives, increasing social participation, etc.). The Enterprise and[This/the initiative] make an agreement where the local Civil Association (the community organized) ensures results over a certain period of time (10, 20 years), and if there are not results (periodical evaluations) the funding is stopped. In short: the partnership contemplates an Exit Plan of both the enterprise and[This/the initiative]’s main branch with the intention of ensuring a decentralized development program.
    • Actualmente, los proyectos que se adoptan en [Esta/la iniciativa] son elegidos por los dueños. Tienen pensado, a futuro, formar un comité de las cabezas de proyecto para considerar sus opiniones. Se eligen proyectos (a) que construyan “bienestar integral en armonía con el medio ambiente, arte y cultura y tecnología”, (b) que sean complementarios y se refuercen entre sí, y (c) que sean autosustentables en términos financieros. Los dueños consideran que la competencia es sana y no prometen exclusividad a ningún proyecto (visión que contrasta con la de modelos, como los de las economías alternativas, que argumentan que la diversidad y complementariedad, más que la competencia, son fuentes de sustentabilidad.) Los proyectos tienen un tiempo de gracia para establecerse y luego tienen que comenzar a dar resultados o renegociar los términos.
    [Esta/la iniciativa] proporciona apoyo a los proyectos en forma de espacio físico, pero también les otorga asesorías, infraestructura, consigue clientes, organiza eventos y talleres y establece alianzas internas y externas.

    • [This/the initiative]has been working for 12 years protecting the tropical rainforest of the Calakmul Biosphere Reserve in southeast Mexico. Their work centres on providing legal and environmental advisory services to the local communities that own these areas and who used to supply wood to logging companies until, with the help of the organization, they organized a new scheme for meeting their needs without finishing the no-renewable resources of their subsistence. Through the new scheme, the organization collected enough donations to start what is known as a Capital Fund, which sum is enough to secure that the interests it yields are given to the farmers in replacement of the fees they were receiving from logging companies in exchange of their protection of the forest, securing, at the same time, that the fund itself is not touched, reducing the need to search for additional funds annually. This capital fund is subject to control by a banking trust fund mechanism composed of 3 parts: the trustee (the bank), the donors/foundations, and the beneficiaries (the organization/the local people), which contributes to the effective management of the funds and guarantees its credibility and transparency.

    However, the vulnerability of the financial market plus the logging companies’ recurrent proposals to the farmers to increase their income make it necessary that the fund keeps on growing. For that,[This/the initiative] complements this strategy by searching for what is known as parity/matching funds, on which each donation that the organization manages to secure is paired by a third source on the condition that the said commitment of the farmers to help preserving the forests is verifiably met. An additional funding source comes from the project’s participation in the carbon bond market, in which it redeems its carbon emission certificates for the price set by the international market rules.

    • Colaboraciones de mutuo beneficio con la población local:
    • -[Esta/la iniciativa] provee las instalaciones para un Bazar Navideño que da oportunidad a comerciantes durante la temporada alta de vender sus productos — a quienes selecciona en función de garantizar la diversidad en la oferta de productos y con ello, el mayor atractivo del bazar. Aunque la renta que [Esta/la iniciativa] recibe de éstos sólo le alcanza para mantener el lugar y no le representa ninguna ganancia monetaria, le sirve para hacer su lugar de venta de árboles más atractivo a gente que viene de otras partes del país.-Lo mismo sucede con el Mercado de comida navideño, en cuyo casi ni siquiera se le cobra renta a los vendedores, pues la mayoría son locales.-[Esta/la iniciativa] da permiso a pepenadores locales de recoger y aprovechar la basura, lo que le ayuda a su vez a mantener sus instalaciones limpias.-También da permiso a los pastores locales de traer sus borregos a pastar, lo que a [Esta/la iniciativa] le sirve para que éstos corten el pasto y le abonen.
    • [This/the initiative] strategies are quite comprehensive and integrative in reach because all funds collected are used to support both the sponsored child (and the different dimensions of its needs such as nutrition, medical attention, clean water, educational books, materials, teachers, etc.) and the whole community (clean water for drinking and health care). This means that all funds are combined and used to benefit all children and their community, and not only the sponsored children.
    • the[This/the initiative] could profit by innovating new means to motivate local production and vocational trainings to create long-term economic autonomy both for the people and for the program.
    • [This/the initiative] and[This/the initiative]… both initiatives’ central objective is reducing their communities’ dependency on the peso-based national economy, which is not guaranteeing that resources flow into their localities, pushing their inhabitants to migrate or live in poverty. By capitalizing on and promoting social trust and solidarity, the final aim of their project is to enhance social cohesion as the basis for improving the lives of the communities, which made these two cases of great help for exploring the significance and means for self-sufficiency.

    The[This/the initiative] project operates in a rural area of Veracruz, Mexico, deeply affected by poverty and its cyclical causes and consequences, meaning: the dependence resulting from the lack of means of production (people work lands that are not theirs or sell foreign products to survive), the violence permeating the State in the context of the country’s war on drugs, social divisiveness based on class, ethnicity, etc. All this still persists, despite the extensive intervention in the area of various poverty reduction government programs. For that reason, and inspired by the[This/the initiative], which has operated from Mexico City since 1996 promoting alternative barter markets (of products and services), local university teachers in 2010 created an alternative market project popularly known as “The[This/the initiative] Project” as a tool to boost the local economy (promoting the circulation of goods which had no buyers due to the absence of conventional money in the place) and reduce external dependence (on resources and on the values from the printing and distribution of economic currency).

    The Tumin is a voucher that is complementary to the peso, the Mexican currency. It seeks to support family income serving as a means of facilitating the development of an alternative exchange dynamic: the barter system (which actually used to be the traditional exchange system in the region).

    Vouchers are used to exchange goods with value equal to (but not worth) 1 Mexican Peso ($ 0.08 USD approx.), backed up by the goods and services offered by its partners, which are listed in a directory so that its members can compromise to support each other. A coordinating team, which is rotatory (ensuring the equitable representation of and responsibilisation of all of the members) monitors and evaluates the project. It is made up of Commissions (education, communication, etc.) that are in charge of organizing various issues related to the project, ensuring its integrative character.

    The community contributes with volunteer work (e.g. the promoters), the payment and collection of Tumins, facilities for holding the assemblies, a space for Tumin’s House (the project’s head office), and 5% of the value of the partners’ products sold at the Tumin’s House to cover administrative costs. They also contribute with their participation in assemblies and other meetings, and with the payment of the Tumin house’s staff. This participation has enabled the project to sustain itself so far, despite the organizers’ complaint about the difficulties they have had in gaining the trust of the people and enhancing their solidarity and participation, which they claim to be the result, mainly, of people’s habituation to …

    • El lugar se ubica en una región rural con más de 50% de la población en condición de pobreza y más del 15% en la de extrema pobreza según cifras del 2010. Aunque el objetivo de El[Esta/la iniciativa] no es transformar las condiciones socioeconómicas de este lugar, sus creadores están conscientes de que es importante evitar acaparar las oportunidades económicas de la zona. Por ello, y quizá también porque al negocio le resulta más redituable, no les ha interesado ser completamente auto-sustentables en alimentos, los cuales compran en buena parte de sus vecinos. En este mismo sentido se han hecho intentos por establecer colaboraciones con los habitantes de la localidad para beneficio mutuo, ofreciéndoles acceso a su clientela a para vender sus productos o servicios (paseos a caballo, donas, etc), lo cual a ellos conviene también por ser un atractivo para los visitantes. Estas colaboraciones al parecer no han prosperado. Además de aparentes barreras socio-culturales y de género (la dueña del[Esta/la iniciativa] es una mujer y esta es una región conservadora), no se sabe bien qué ha impedido el interés de la comunidad para colaborar con este proyecto.  Incluso en alguna ocasión una pobladora local se negó a recibirles un grupo de gallinas que le ofrecieron a condición de que después le vendieran a El[Esta/la iniciativa] sus productos.
    • allowing the creation of a local economy that can become a sustainable source of financial support for the Night Schools.
    • The prototype alternative market model promoted by[This/the initiative] and that inspired the[This/the initiative] Project, comprises, according to Luis Lopezllera’s “Money is not enough, what to do?” Manual (2008), the integration of an alternative economic system that includes at least the following:

    1. The granting of memberships for partners.

    2. The signing of a letter of commitment agreed on the rules of the exchange.

    3. The creation of a user directory based on the planning of a consumer basket (that defines what kind of partners are needed, including foreign partners, if the locals cannot fulfil the need).

    4. The training in person and/or through a brief Operation Manual.

    5. The provision of the barter/exchange vouchers to the partners.

    6. The creation of a regular newsletter that accompanies and strengthens the project.

    7. The creation and distribution of educational and publicizing materials.

    8. The establishment of a promotional team (volunteers).

    9. The organization of regular meetings for the project’s development.

    10. The organization of decisional deliberative assemblies of associated partners (decentralization).

    11. The establishment of cellular stores for the public (that link together, give certainty, and facilitate the buying of products for those who cannot attend the market’s meetings because of logistical problems).

    12. The organization of local fairs, private or public, gatherings, visits, courses, and workshops (introductory lectures and retreats).

    13. The organization of regional or national meetings (with similar networks).

    14. The use of advanced communication and dissemination means.

    15. The procurement of infrastructure and support resources (property for the shop and office, meeting room, exhibition room, furniture, telephone, computer, projector, transportation, support fund, etc.).

    • No hay exclusividad, creen que negocios pueden crecer y ser mejores compitiendo sanamente (NOTA: opuesto a principio sustentabilidad economía solidaria que cree la clave está en la diversidad y complementariedad).

    2 huertos por ejemplo.

    La falta de garantes de exclusividad, de capacidad de incidencia en la toma de decisiones relativas al modelo y a su operación y de compatibilidad de visiones han sido ya causantes del abandono de uno de los proyectos socios. Condiciones que pudiesen representar un reto para la efectiva colaboración con futuros proyectos.

    • Fostering the initiatives’ beneficiaries production of local goods and services through entrepreneurial or cooperative schemes which surpluses can be reinvested in their own communities (and that might be supported with local barter systems)
    • Creating local alternative currencies that complement the mainstream ones and make them more dispensable (time banks, digital or paper currencies, etc.)
    • Establishing or improving local barter systems that promote local producers addressing local needs and are facilitated by alternative currencies which value is only recognized locally, and thus give reasons for people to cooperate, despite their differences
    • Un banco de tiempo, que es una versión de lo que se conoce como monedas alternativas, las cuales han sido utilizadas por distintas comunidades u organizaciones como estrategias para regenerar o mejorar las relaciones entre sus miembros; facilitar su intercambio de bienes y servicios y sus dinámicas de cooperación en general; compensar su falta de acceso a dinero convencional; reducir su dependencia a recursos externos; y/o apoyar mecanismos de auto-organización alternativos. El principio básico de los bancos de tiempo, según uno de sus promotores, podría resumirse en que: “Al unirse a un banco de tiempo, las personas están de acuerdo en participar en un sistema que implica ganar y gastar créditos de tiempo. Cuando pasan una hora en una actividad que ayuda a los demás, ellos reciben un crédito de tiempo. Cuando necesitan ayuda de otros, pueden utilizar los créditos de tiempo que han acumulado”(x). Hoy, los bancos de tiempo operan en alrededor de 50 países y su modelo ha sido adaptado para proyectos de salud pública,  de intercambio de conocimientos especializados, de cohesión comunitaria e intercultural, de permacultura, de economía local, de apoyo a grupos vulnerables (como desempleados, jubilados y jóvenes reclusos), e incluso de cooperación entre empresas u otras organizaciones para el aprovechamiento de recursos escasos o sub-utilizados (x). El objetivo común es el uso de la moneda-tiempo como instrumento para motivar y potenciar las relaciones de intercambio entre los miembros de una comunidad u organización, y con ello fortalecer la capacidad de esta última para satisfacer de forma más efectiva sus propias necesidades. Por ello su circulación suele ser administrada por un broker o coordinador de red. Éste documenta, analiza y promueve los intercambios a partir de las ofertas y demandas señaladas por los miembros participantes (generalmente a través de un sitio web).  Como se trata de cubrir necesidades reales, la relación entre oferta y demanda es cuidadosamente vigilada tanto en el primer registro de los participantes, como a lo largo del proceso de conformación de la red de cooperación
    • To explore enterprises that are relevant for the kind of products that the[This/the initiative] already produces or that are present in the region (and thus, care about the local community), and make “win-win” partnerships of the kind mentioned in this case study with them. The settlement of cooperatives, such as the ones mentioned in this case study, could stimulate the regions’ production, empower local citizens, and reduce the migration rates to the cities offering local economic alternatives to the people. If parents of Night Schools’ children have extra income, perhaps they could afford to send their children to school. If there is a cooperative in the town, perhaps the children of the Night Schools would have greater job expectations in their own community, as also suggested by Lopezllera from the[This/the initiative]. Moreover, if the cooperative surpluses are used, at least partially, to fund the Solar Night Schools Program, its financial self-sustainability would increase.
  • To get closer to communities, promoters of the initiative began by inviting them to participate in the project, bringing their ideas and proposals for the design and implementation of a fairer and more ecological agriculture model.The initial response from neighboring residents was unfavorable. Few understood why people outside the community opened their doors and asked for their voluntary participation in the construction of a project that was alien to them.Other ways to collaborate with the local population were then developed. Programs were created to employ people on the farm; an attractive option due to the lack of work in the region. Today almost all the families of the town have worked at the farm.