What is the issue?
Today’s economy is highly globalised, damaging to the environment, deeply unequal and increasingly unstable. This project aims to inspire and support communities to transform their local economic destiny – moving away from the doomed ‘business as usual’ and towards something that helps build resilience and equality rather than destroy it: something that offers new jobs, opportunity and hope despite the challenges we face, and demonstrates a system of trade and exchange that’s more sustainable, equitable and anchored in wellbeing, rather than economic growth at any cost.
However, many communities lack confidence in taking on this work – they are not clear where to start or what support is available, and cannot generally meet the demands involved without finding a way to resource some of the local volunteers. They want help with ways to engage their local community, as generally local people and organisations, including councils, have low awareness of viable options to the current economic system.
New kinds of enterprises are emerging and they need help – but the current business support services are not geared towards community enterprise, and do not embed ecological sustainability and social equality as a core feature. Nor does today’s investment marketplace meet the financing needs of most community enterprises.
What will the project try to achieve?
This project will find new ways to build the capacity of community groups to develop local economic resilience, and will inspire a growing number of communities, both inside and outside the Transition movement, to undertake this challenging work in the UK. A targeted communication strategy, in partnership with similar organisations, will raise the profile of alternatives to the current economic system in the mainstream.
Two pilot communities will develop new models of community-based support and investment for emerging enterprises, unlocking local assets and resources rather than relying on external or inward investment. A mapping of investment and financing options for community enterprises will be compiled, and gaps will be identified, on an ongoing basis.
This approach to building local economic resilience is anchored in (a) community participation, (b) local partnerships, (c) place-based analysis that understands local needs and assets, (d) promoting self-organising and self-financing at community level, (e) a focus on resilience-building enterprises and sectors, and (e) can rapidly scale up thanks to the size of our national and global networks.
Who might be interested in this project?
This project is aimed at people in Transition Initiatives and other community groups and organisations who are interested in improving the resilience, sustainability and equality of their local economy in some way. This might include one or more of the following activities:
- Starting new enterprises which are socially, environmentally and financially viable (referred to as Transition-oriented enterprises);
- Providing support and infrastructure for new or existing local businesses; or
- Taking a leadership role in transforming the entire local economic system.
The project will also be developing resources for entrepreneurs such as advice on where to access investment finance that’s aimed at community scale enterprises.
The project is also being part-funded by the Polden-Puckham Charitable Foundation.