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Date: 2024-05-18 Page is: DBtxt003.php txt00003879

Means of Exchange

Means of Exchange is a global initiative focusing on methods of economic self-sufficiency founded in 2012 by Ken Banks and his associates


Peter Burgess


Two years in the planning, Means of Exchange is a global initiative focusing on methods of economic self-sufficiency. At it’s core it looks at how emerging, everyday technologies can be used to democratise opportunities for economic self-sufficiency, rebuild local community and promote a return to local resource use.


” We pay too little attention to the reserve power of the people to take care of themselves. We are too solicitous for government intervention, on the theory, first, that the people themselves are helpless, and second, that the government has superior capacity for action. Often times both of these conclusions are wrong - Calvin Coolidge
It’s only when things go wrong that we question the systems which regulate, control and dominate our lives. We enter 2012 at a time of great economic uncertainty. Millions of people around the world have lost jobs, homes, businesses, independence and purpose. Millions more face growing uncertainty and insecurity. Many hard working people have been hard hit. In the greater scheme of things they’re simply collateral damage in the rebalancing of a larger, broken world economic system.

Is there anything any of us could have done?

While it’s impossible for most of us to remove ourselves entirely from the world economic system, there is a lot we can do to lessen our dependence on it. Funnily enough it’s something our ancestors managed to do pretty well. It’s called self-sufficiency.

For the majority of people, self-sufficiency conjures up images of grow-your-own vegetables on village allotments, but more meaningful economic self-sufficiency is possible if people are creative in how they earn, trade and share with one another. As money has taken over as our primary means of exchange, other more traditional methods have been lost.

What we’ve been left with is an economic system we have little control over, a loss of community and a drift away from the consumption of locally produced goods and services.

But all is not lost. This can be halted, and by using the very technologies which enable us to take part in a globalised society, it can be reversed.

If you’re interested in learning more about methods of economic self-sufficiency, or you’re desperate for the tools and resources to make it happen, then Means of Exchange is for you.

We’ll be looking at how emerging, everyday technologies can be used to democratise opportunities for economic self-sufficiency, rebuild local community and promote a return to local resource use. Not only that, where they don’t already exist we’ll build the tools so you can make it happen wherever you are. And we’ll take a fresh look at the public messaging behind local economic empowerment schemes to help make it more inclusive, simple, relevant, fun and engaging in today’s social media-driven world. We have some exciting plans afoot, so be sure to keep in touch.

You can do that in one (or all) of three ways. You can sign up, follow us on Twitter, or ‘Like’ our Facebook page.

Welcome to Means of Exchange!

” Control your own destiny, or someone else will “ - Jack Welch


Ken Banks. Concept, design, project management, software development

Founder of, Ken devotes himself to the application of mobile technology for positive social and environmental change in the developing world, and has spent the last 19 years working on projects in Africa. His early research resulted in the development of FrontlineSMS, an award-winning text messaging-based field communication system aimed at grassroots non-profit organisations. Ken graduated from Sussex University with honours in Social Anthropology with Development Studies, was awarded a Stanford University Reuters Digital Vision Fellowship in 2006, and named a Pop!Tech Social Innovation Fellow in 2008. In 2009 he was named a Laureate of the Tech Awards, an international awards program which honours innovators from around the world who are applying technology to benefit humanity. He was named a National Geographic Emerging Explorer in May 2010 and an Ashoka Fellow in 2011, was the recipient of the 2011 Pizzigati Prize for Software in the Public Interest, and was selected as a member of the UK Prime Minister’s delegation to Africa in July 2011. His work has been supported by the MacArthur Foundation, Open Society Institute, Rockefeller Foundation, HIVOS, the Omidyar Network and the Curry Stone and Hewlett Foundations.

Further details of Ken’s work are available on his website at

Alice Brennan. Research and website content

Alice graduated from Oxford University with a BA in anthropology and archaeology in 2009, and currently lives in Tokyo. Before moving to Japan Alice worked as a consultant for London-based Techlightenment, a social media technology company that helps global companies create and implement innovative online campaigns. Alice briefly worked as a teacher in Japan until March 2011 when the country was struck by a catastrophic earthquake and tsunami that devastated the coast and caused the Fukushima Nuclear disaster. Alice volunteered with Peace Boat’s Disaster Relief Volunteer Center (PBV) providing humanitarian aid in the affected region, after which she became the International Corporate Social Responsibility and Fundraising Coordinator at the PBV headquarters in Tokyo. In this role Alice has been responsible for rallying support for the ongoing crisis amongst the international business community in Japan and throughout the rest of the world. PBV’s work includes economic development projects, psychosocial care, hot meal distribution and mud clearance. The success of PBV has been documented in the book “奇跡の災害ボランティア石巻モデル” (“The Miracle Ishinomaki Disaster Volunteer Model”).

Further information about this ongoing work can be found on the PBV website at

Alicia Kidd. Local currency research

In 2010, Alicia graduated from The University of Manchester with a BSocSc in Social Anthropology. She then worked as a researcher for ‘Act the Facts’, an educational scriptwriting company, before undertaking an internship with the British Council in New Delhi. Since then she has been travelling the world alone, making it to twelve countries across Asia and the South Pacific, stopping in a few places to do voluntary work. Her volunteering has included disaster relief in Japan after the 2011 tsunami, working in Thailand with young lesbians whose sexuality is widely unaccepted, and interning with an Indian company which helps to provide education to children growing up in slums. She has been writing about some of her experiences around the world, which have gone on to be printed in various publications including the JET handbook, the Peaceboat website and South East Asia Backpacker Magazine. She is currently living in Chiang Mai, Thailand where she is a volunteer in a women’s refuge and an intern with South East Asia Backpacker Magazine.

Alicia blogs her thoughts and “worldwide wanderings” at bitecreamandbandages


Means of Exchange was made possible thanks to the kind support of friends at Little Fish.

Means of Exchange Limited is a company registered in the United Kingdom, number 08087355.

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Copyright © 2005-2021 Peter Burgess. All rights reserved. This material may only be used for limited low profit purposes: e.g. socio-enviro-economic performance analysis, education and training.