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The Ora as facilitator of sustainable local economic development in Orania /7

  • 16 May 13

orania 7Summary of the main findings and conclusions
The aim of this paper was to investigate how the sustainable local economic development (SLED) in Orania has been facilitated by the establishment of the community’s own banking and other institutions and the local currency. The unique reason for the well-functioning Ora is the Orania Movement and the community that created and sustained it to make it the success it is. Orania improves and develops its local independence through the development of its own institutions on its own property and with its own labour. This small community lives and practises sustainable development to preserve the environment. The Ora as a working example of a functional local currency strengthens the case for using similar solutions to address poverty and unemployment elsewhere in South Africa.
Orania is an example of a well-functioning small town in many respects. Although it has not yet been proclaimed as a town, it is a proclaimed conservation area. This has allowed Orania to develop in its own unique way, independent of government intervention and by financing all local developments itself. The achievements and developments in Orania demonstrate its successes in achieving sustainable development. Examples of this include the practice of permaculture, the use of bat hotels and flats for owls, labour banking, an environmentally friendly waste disposal system and a unique waste dispenser for five different categories of waste. Orania’s 10-point plan for SLED is an example for other communities not practising sustainable development yet. This shows that Orania is a community of pioneers and innovators who do not wait for handouts, but who work hard to achieve their dreams.
Numerous enterprises, institutions, societies and organisations have been established by the community to better manage itself. These achievements were possible because the community is not materialistic, but is made up of pioneers and innovators with well-founded beliefs and values. Orania has a vibrant and dynamic population of over 700 people and nearly 100 enterprises. This means that 14 percent of the population are entrepreneurs and have their own businesses. Many institutions develop, organise and manage the financial, social, cultural, sporting and political activities in Orania and form the well-balanced Orania Movement. This, together with its healthy financial position, confirms that Orania has grown steadily into a well-established community over a sometimes difficult, but very interesting, period of 17 years.
Developing communities can obtain similar benefits from local currencies and banking institutions as those received by developed communities from their banking. Therefore, the Orania savings and Credit Corporative Limited (OSK) was established in 2002 and the Ora in 2004, after intensive planning. A local currency ensures many advantages for a community. Cash in circulation is replaced with coupons, while the national currency earns interest and more purchasing power is retained in the community. This also reduces the leakage rate and enables the community to move to a higher level of activity. Local currencies are collectors’ items and in this way at least R215 000 was donated to Orania during the period April 2004 to September 2008. A local currency also promotes the supply of local products and services that use little or no imported components. The Ora also improves the community’s feelings of a shared identity and economic independence or self-reliance. Local businesses stimulate the economy by giving discounts on purchases made with Oras and it is safe to use Oras.
The national currency does not serve the poor as well as it serves the rich in many developing countries, areas or towns. This is why Orania uses its local currency and finances its SLED with limited support from government. Only a small number of Oras are needed in circulation, because of the high velocity of the currency. After an initial slowdown in circulation the growth of Oras was progressive: from Ø80 970 in March 2005 to Ø395 170 in September 2008. Although efforts have been made to estimate the acceptance rate of Oras, this was difficult because the OSK uses a mixed system and not two separate systems for recording Oras and Rands. The contribution that the Ora has made to the establishment and development of institutions and the community is therefore not precisely determinable. But there can be little doubt that the OSK and the Ora have made important contributions to the general marketing and sustainable economic growth of Orania.

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Copyright by Ronald Mears

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