Trade & Exchange

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[Editor's note: we at GEO wish to extend our deepest condolences to the people of Ecuador who recently experienced a devastating earthquake that claimed the lives of hundreds of people.  The following article from our archives (originally published in 2004) recounts the beginnings of the Kallari Cooperative, a co-op composed of Kichwa farmers and artisans in the Ecuadorian Amazon.  From their start as a small handcraft cooperative, as detailed by Fernandes below, Kallari has grown into a successful bean-to-bar chocol

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[Editor's note: The Bangla-Pesa recently celebrated over two years in operation.  Below are two videos that describe how this complimentary currency system works and how it has helped business owners in Bangladesh, Kenya to operate more efficiently by providing an alternative to the national currency that is in chronically short supply in impoverished areas like Bangladesh.]

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[Editor's note: below is a selection from the new ebook by the las Indias collective (translated into English by Level Translation), now available in our store.

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Columbia City Farmers' MarketWinter farmers’ markets are tests of fortitude and patience, even in Seattle, where the climate is reasonably temperate much of the season.

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Uberfication has become shorthand for many new concepts—from the sharing economy to any significantly disruptive digital business model. But what exactly did Uber do that was materially different to earlier disruptive digital businesses? In short:

  • It created software…

  • To replace existing industry-wide operational structures…

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[Editor's note: this short documentary looks at the multi-faceted company Alaffia, based in Togo, West Africa.  Alaffia's three cooperatives (producing shea butter, baskets, and coconuts) provide economic independence for the women involved and fund empowerment and development projects for local communities.  In the US, Alaffia's fair trade products are sold at many food co-ops and natural food stores.  While the company may not be entirely cooperative (the US part of the company does not appear to be run cooperativ

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In this inspiring talk from TEDxDouglas (Isle of Man), Valerie Miller discusses the founding of Mother T—a community center whose objective is to rebuild community, facilitate connection and tackle problems such as loneliness and isolation.  She also highlights how time banks, unlike traditional social service providers, enrolls the help of the people it supports, and focuses on the assets and abilities of community members, rather than their deficits.  Miller argues that this empowering approach has the potential to revitalize community spirit and improve people's lives and relationships.

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[Editor's Note: This article was originally published at Responding Together in April of 2013.  It has received minor editing for clarity.  The original version of the article can be found here.]

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Richard Logie of Aberdeen, Scotland, UK, talked about Complementary Currencies at work in Aberdeen at a TED conference in Leeds, UK. I particularly liked his life-history introduction. He claimed they were poor but they didn't actually know it. They had a "favor exchange" and the more you knew how to do, the better off you were. Click through for an embedded player for the video

In the middle of the Greek monetary (Euro) crisis, people have discovered a way around the system that's been rigged against them. They are setting up local currency and exchange systems and doing business, effectively, without government money. The breathless story can be found at Raw Story and it is well worth reading and thinking about. But, for me, that's just the tip of the iceberg.

By Mira Luna, Shareable.net

Local currencies generally develop for one of two reasons — the desire for local economic control (for a variety of reasons, from democracy to sustainability to social justice,) and a scarcity of national currency. In the current situation, both reasons weigh heavy.

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Our first stop is another component allied with Mongragon University called SAIOLAN. It's an incubator project for helping to launch new coops and high-tech businesses as well as training new entrepreneurs.
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Most new small businesses fail. That's a fact, whether they are in the Basque Country or in the U.S. Or anywhere else. Yet the Mondragon Coops, which all started as small worker-owned businesses, have hardly ever failed. Why? The key is in Father Jose Maria Arizmendi's original founding conception of cooperatives as the interlocking of school, factory and credit union.
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Our topic this morning is the wider range of the cooperative movement, both in the Basque Country and Spain. Mondragon is a part of the Basque Cooperative Confederation. There are currently 755 cooperatives in the Basque Country, and only 80 of them are the worker-owned MCC coops. There are a total of 537,000 members of all the coops, but only 54,919 are worker members, and 37,860 of these are the MCC worker-owners. 

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...As we left, many in our group were debating the pros and cons of global economic justice. I shared their concerns, but I also saw something else. Here was the beginnings of some of the most advanced productive forces in the world, the means of both economies of abundance and the means of clean and safe renewable energies and far lighter ecological footprints.
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I'm with a group of 25 social activists on a study tour organized by the Praxis Peace Project. Our focus is the Mondragon Cooperative Corporation, a 50-year-old network of nearly 120 factories and agencies, involving nearly 100,000 workers in one way or another, and centered in the Basque Country but now spanning the globe. We're here to study the history of these unique worker-owned factories, how they work, why they have been successful, and how they might be expanded in various ways as instruments of social change.
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