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Eko

EKO

Introduction

The Eko is the community currency of the Findhorn Eco-village Project in northeast Scotland. The Eko is a community currency backed by Pounds Sterling. The Eko is the UK’s oldest still active community currency of its kind (also see Transition Currency, Regiogeld), having been in operation since 2002. The fourth issue, which will run until 2017, has just been launched 1.

Purpose

The Eko is a local currency system designed as an alternative to Pounds Sterling in economic transactions and as a complement to the eco-village’s LETS. The Eko currency has provided economic support to a variety of organizations over the years including the wind turbine project, Station House Co-operative and the local Youth Project. The current issue, which celebrates the communities 50th year, will be used to support new affordable housing projects 2.

The main aims of the Eko currency are

  • To provide low cost financing for new projects through low interest loans and surpluses generated by the currency project itself.
  • To enable existing businesses to make savings on bank charges (surprisingly perhaps, this benefit may outweigh the value of the low cost financing), and to stimulate trade amongst community business, residents and visitors.
  • To promote these businesses and projects, and the Ecovillage in general as a place of innovation and sustainable economy
  • To inspire both guests and residents with the demonstration value of a locally based currency, and to get the users thinking about how and where they spend their money.
  • To create gift capital for local projects.

Community Overview

Findhorn Ecovillage is an experimental community project based at The Park, in Moray, Scotland, near the village of Findhorn. The project’s main aim is to demonstrate a sustainable development in environmental, social, and economic terms. In the Findhorn Ecovillage many practices are explored and developed such as eco-architecture, organic food production, ‘Living Machine’ wastewater treatment, small-scale wind energy and the Eko currency.

The Ecovillage has more than 250 members centred on The Park (the main campus on the southern edge of Findhorn), but also based at numerous locations in the nearby town of Forres and elsewhere in Moray. According to 2006 figures, the project supports approximately 300 jobs in the Findhorn/Forres area and provides a total aggregate economic impact in excess of £5 million per annum in the Highlands of Scotland as a whole 3.

A variety of community organisations accept the Eko, among which are the Findhorn Bay Holiday Park, a local café, and the Findhorn Foundation.

Organisation and History

The Eko was launched in May 2002 by Ekopia, with support of the Hygeia Foundation. It piloted with a first issue (selling Ekos for Pound Sterling) and continued with three successive issues, up till the current fourth issue.

Currency Details

The [system] in numbers (# users, turnover etc.)

About £18,000 worth of Ekos are in circulation in denominations of 1s, 5s, 10s and 20s. Total trading turnover of the notes has exceeded £400,000 to date 4. Each note is expected to circulate between 12-15 times per year (see Velocity 5.

Function and Unit of Account  (exchanging, saving, other)

The issue is at par with sterling i.e. 1 Eko = £1, and notes are in one, five, ten and twenty denominations. Individuals may not redeem the notes in sterling from Ekopia, although traders may redeem the Eko currency in sterling from Ekopia according to certain set criteria 6.

Issuance – Backing (incl. “medium of Exchange”: Electronic, Notes, Cheques, Ledger)

The Eko has a fixed term of validity and is currently in its fourth issue. Some of the pound sterling raised from each issue is loaned out, at low interest rates, to local businesses for the term of the issue 7.

The cost of printing and any administration is covered by the loan interest charges. The income from any unreturned Ekos goes to local non-profit initiatives 8.

References

  1. http://www.localpeopleleading.co.uk/on-the-ground/back-briefings/1444
  2. http://www.localpeopleleading.co.uk/on-the-ground/back-briefings/1444/
  3. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Findhorn_Ecovillage
  4. http://www.localpeopleleading.co.uk/on-the-ground/back-briefings/1444/
  5. http://library.uniteddiversity.coop/Link%20to%20Community_Currencies/Community_Currency_Eko_Scotland.pdf
  6. http://www.ekopia-findhorn.org/eko.shtml
  7. http://library.uniteddiversity.coop/Link%20to%20Community_Currencies/Community_Currency_Eko_Scotland.pdf). The current issue, which celebrates the communities 50th year, will be used to support new affordable housing projects
  8. http://www.ekopia-findhorn.org/
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