The Ora as facilitator of sustainable local economic development in Orania1 /1
By Ronald Mears2
The aim of this paper is to investigate how sustainable local economic development (SLED) in Orania has been facilitated by the establishment of the community’s own banking and other institutions and a local currency, called the Ora and written as Ø. The objective is to investigate how local institutions, initiatives and a currency can increase employment, income generation and the standard of living of a community. This SLED strategy is an alternative to the top-down approach of pro-poor LED based on investment in basic services, which encourages a dependency on the state.
Long-term development is driven by political, social and economic transformation. Economically, this means that the employment base is expanded and unemployment reduced, while steadily increasing overall living standards. The political, social and economic conditions in South Africa have changed significantly since the Orania Movement was established 20 years ago, while both Orania and South Africa have changed and developed. Although this paper concentrates on the local currency and SLED in Orania, this is intricately related to the political and social local developments in the country as a whole and specifically in Orania.
The Orania Movement celebrated its 20th birthday on 9 August 2008 with a conference aimed at providing new answers for new times. The Orania SLED model helps to develop a future for the community, while making a constructive contribution and accepting the challenges within South Africa. This working model of SLED is examined to show how Orania confronts its challenges. Orania improves and develops its local independence through the development of its own institutions on its own property and with its own labour. Moreover, Orania has taken a decision to live and practice sustainable development and to preserve the environment. This was the first message of the conference, where Strydom (2008) sketched a ten-point plan to transform Orania into a green society.
The next section explains SLED within the Orania context, while Section 3 explains the historical development of Orania institutions and the Ora currency as background to the research. It then analyses the development of the Ora and technical details relating to it. Section 4 analyses the Ora as facilitator of sustainable local economic development and examines the growth and contribution of the Ora to the economy of Orania. Section 5 summarises the main findings of the research and draws some tentative conclusions.
 The author gratefully acknowledges the contributions of the Orania Movement, management and members who generously gave their time and inputs to assist during this research.
 Professor of Economics, University of Johannesburg, Auckland Park Kingsway Campus.
Copyright by Ronald Mears