There is a new economy on the horizon.
Many people are already thinking more deeply about what they buy and where they buy it from – with social enterprises, cooperatives and ethical sourcing programmes now established parts of the economy. But we are also witnessing another shift: the way in which we get something is also changing. With more and more people using sharing platforms and skills exchanges, and the rise of complementary or digital currencies, money is no longer the only means of exchange.
We need these pockets of economic ingenuity to become more useable, more widespread, and longer-lasting.
The impact of the economic downturn will last for generations. Millennials (people born between 1980-2000) and those that follow are facing a particularly precarious economic future. Alternative economic models can help meet this challenge by giving people new ways to get what they need while building stronger links between communities.
Many exciting community ‘alternative economy’ projects have started up in the wake of the global financial crisis. However, many have to deal with hurdles including a reliance on volunteer help, limited funding or a lack of experienced, strategic support. Many will fail.
To make ‘a million local economies*’ possible, we have identified a need for a collaborative, multi-skilled support structure.
Means of Exchange has always had a vision for a world in which people see money as just one tool for getting what they need. In the years since MoE started, we have encountered many people working on projects related to economic innovation and community empowerment. These community activists, researchers, consultants and academics have first-hand experience of what is needed to build and support successful alternative economy projects in a variety of contexts.
We formed Labs to bring these people together.
*A million local economies: One of six future scenarios for the collaborative economy.
- Making new economy ideas work for all
The experience of our network shows that new economy initiatives can be powerful community building tools. In this time of widespread financial insecurity, in which millions of people around the world have lost jobs, homes, businesses, independence and purpose, we champion the use and development of these initiatives in the communities that need them most.
- Promoting financial literacy and digital inclusion
Full community participation in a more resilient economy requires a minimum level of financial and digital literacy that cannot, by any means, be assumed to exist. Means of Exchange Labs recognises this knowledge gap as a significant barrier to implementing new economy ideas at scale, and supports those working to address it.
- Reconnecting rural and urban communities
Many sharing economy ideas have their roots in the traditions of rural life, but the technology driving forward many p2p platforms is being formulated in urban centres. We believe that there is much to gain from strengthening the relationship between rural and urban communities – both in terms of growing local economies and living more sustainably.
We allocate the most appropriate members of our network to each project, with fees agreed for those involved. We don’t have a set fee structure, but work according to budgets to avoid excluding anyone who cannot afford our services.
We welcome speculative enquiries from community groups. If your project approaches us for help, we will seek to find financial assistance to support your project to delivery wherever possible.
We are also open to requests for help, compensated by mutually beneficial alternative exchange.