Alternative financial innovations in Greater Manchester?

We are interested in exploring the possibilities for alternative financial systems to promote economic, social and ecological well-being in this part of the world.
The key idea is to identify the gaps in the local system of financial resources (systems, institutions, mechanisms….) that, if filled, could help improve local economic, social and environmental well-being and resilience.
That suggests three key questions:-

1) How can we keep money local, “plugging the leaks” by which it gets spent out of the local or regional economy.  There is current interest in initiatives like parallel or local currencies, exchanges, and loyalty schemes (e.g. Brixton and Bristol Pounds, Hullcoin, Spice, and locally Chorlton TAG, Fallowfield Timebank) and also some successful international examples such as the Swiss inter-business WIR, and the Banco Palmas social currency in Brazil).  But there might be other ways of achieving this goal – how do we increase commitment and understanding about spending locally, “local multipliers”, etc?

2) How might we link savings, affordable credit and investment in the local economy?  Can the respective agendas coalesce toward something like a local bank or local savings and investment bond, backing savings with investment in things like renewable energy or sustainable food initiatives while en enabling those initiatives to more easily raise capital.  Is anyone doing anything on this front here already?  What might the most effective, and efficient (of time and set-up investment) be?

3) Similarly, can the problem of household indebtedness and reliance on short-term high interest loans (e.g. payday loans) be linked up with these other agendas, for example in partnership with credit unions?

If it looks like there is consensus over feasible intervention or interventions, the next task would be to look at how to take the first steps, and to enrol other relevant people.

At this stage we are looking for two things.

1) Expressions of interest in committing to an initial meeting to explore these ideas. If you contact us, we will get back to you if we have sufficient interest with date and time options.
2) Suggestions of others who might be interested in participating, or whose ideas, knowledge, skills and/or contacts might be helpful.

You can contact us with the form below, or send us an email.  (You can find more background on pages 31-36 of our 2012 report In Place of Growth.)

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