The Berg Rand or BRAND - which means 'Fire' Money in Afrikaans, had an amazing launch today! The FlowAfrica team lead by John Ziniades and Anna Cowen of Meshfield spent over 6 months training local youth in topics of architecture, video creation (see their youtube channel), currency and businesses development. These youth helped mobilize a network of small businesses across 3 different towns in the Bergrivier region. The businesses formed the Bergrivier Exchange Network (BEN) and designed their own medium of exchange. Similar to Bangla-Pesa and the other community currencies in Kenya the members of the BEN must be local prosumers and guaranteed by four other members of the network and must contribute to a community fund with their BRAND for social service programs, like trash collection and alien vegetation clearing.
The BRAND will flow through the community connecting supply and demand when the National Currency (Rand) are scarce. Beyond the empowerment of the small businesses in the region, the launch of the BRAND was special in Africa as being the first to be met with support from both a National Treasury and local municipality. Right now the monetary system of South Africa does not value 'local' - it values the price of corn in the US more than it does potatoes grown in South Africa and this is a huge problem. The Community Currency movement takes over where Crypto-Currencies like BitCoin has faltered by building local community and valuing local goods and services and their connection to the environment. Creating community currencies that work in parallel to national currencies is a holistic grassroots economic model. It is built around community trust and backed by local goods and services. This type of money simply makes sense to local businesses by allowing them to trade even when there is not enough national currency.
What is really exciting about the Flow Program in South Africa is that they have two very different municipalities taking part. Kokstad (KwaZuluNatal) (to launch in July) and Bergrivier (Western Cape). These programs are a new way to empower local businesses to lead the way and walk and in hand with local government. The BRAND launched today Pickterberg with spaza shops, farmers, creches, and more have formed an exchange network for their goods and services. With the levels of both business and governmental support we've seen in South Africa, we expect to see substantial increases in the local economy sales revenues and market stability. See more about the FLOW program at http://flowafrica.org .
Our hope is that these programs will create a network of interconnected community currencies across Africa - to build a truly grassroots economy.