intro: the rich get richer, the poor get poorer… So it goes, but recent, noteworthy examples of reactive consumer behaviour all over the world testify that the power of money can be overcome, thanks to very special local community initiatives.
what: the Local Exchange Trading System (LETS) is a significant expression of non-monetary exchange among people. It is based on mutual aid, for which the means of exchange is not money but rather takes root in the concept of barter of goods and/or services. It is an increasingly prevalent approach throughout the world and many countries are adapting the same concept according to their own culture and local needs.
who: some LETS organisations around the world…
Africa: Community Exchange Systems are available in Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, Kenya, and Cameroon. ILASA LETS is an international non-profit/non-governmental organisation which brings together people within a given local community for the purpose of exchange of goods, services and skills without the use of cash: “Categorically, we were established to encourage the fight against poverty and the development of a strong local economy based on trust, making resources available within a particular local community and creating an avenue for making new circles of friends”.
- Ithaca Hours: in the US, the well-known Ithaca Hours is a local currency in the form of paper money used exclusively within the regional boundaries. In this case, you offer goods and services and receive Hours in exchange.
- Banca del Tempo: in Italy, the ‘time bank’ is a way in which you subscribe and are then able to provide, and receive, daily services as measured in hours.
- Labour/Money Saving: the same concept is followed in Shanghai, where people can secure money or services after they retire by providing services to the organisation while they are young.
fighting poverty: whether you are rich or poor in terms of the Naira (the Nigerian currency), LETS gives all its members an opportunity to trade with others without using cash and even enhances the distribution of wealth and resources.
creating friendship: LETS is also a source for acquiring new circles of friends. This is because people from all walks of life can become members. Plumbers, doctors, teachers, engineers etc… can be found at LETS and each can arrange trades with others depending on what they have to offer and what they want.
objectives: ILASA LETS aims to…
- carry out an effective exchange of goods by putting in place a system of pre-collection and the stocking of offers;
- intensify the flow of skills exchange by the development of popular professional/vocational training centres that favour women and youths;
- amplify its social impact by developing partnerships with experienced public administrators, local and international non-governmental organisations involved in poverty alleviation & community development, village/community and urban organisations, active training structures, micro-finance operators, etc.;
- create a trading atmosphere based on trust and where people within a particular local community can come together in love and even make new friends.