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From text messaging to economic resilience

Three weeks ago we announced that I was stepping down from day-to-day operations at FrontlineSMS to hand over to a new senior management team. It’s clear from the success of the global launch of version 2 of the software over the past week that FrontlineSMS is in safe hands, and the reworked software, outreach and launch were all handled by the team with little involvement from me. It was great to see all their hard work come together, and I congratulate everyone on a job extremely well done. \o/

Photo: Laura W Hudson

As I mentioned in my recent post, I’ll remain involved with the project and will continue to support innovation and entrepreneurship in the developing (and developed) world, will continue to write about technology and Africa, and will continue with mentoring and speaking. The ICT4D and social innovation fields continue to fascinate and inspire me as much as they did all those years ago when I started out, and I’ll remain involved as long as I continue to add value.

Introducing “Means of Exchange”

So, what else will I be working on? Well, for the past two years I’ve been taking an increasing interest in economic resilience, particularly how technology might help buffer local communities from global economic downturns. Ironically, since I started my research the world has entered a period of growing economic uncertainty. The causes – although fascinating – don’t so much interest me, more the response at local, grassroots level.

As we all know, in times of hardship people tend to become increasingly innovative. As Greeks have found themselves with less and less cash in their pockets, many have turned to bartering. It’s how communities react to economic shocks that I’ll be focussing on, and how tools like bartering, swapping, LETS schemes and local currencies are applied and deployed in response.

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.

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 interested in tools and resources to make it happen, then Means of Exchange is for you.

Firstly, the website will focus on how emerging, everyday technologies can be used to democratise opportunities for economic self-sufficiency, rebuild local communities and promote a return to local resource use.

Secondly, if they don’t already exist, we’ll build you the tools so you can make it happen wherever you are. Our first flagship “app” will be released within the next few weeks.

To keep up-to-date with new releases and latest news, check us out via:

See you on the other side.

41 comments

1 Ken Banks { 06.18.12 at 11:22 am }

"From text messaging to economic resilience" – or – "What's next after FrontlineSMS?". http://t.co/k88PffhU #m4d #resilience

2 Means of Exchange { 06.18.12 at 11:23 am }

"From text messaging to economic resilience" – or – "What's next after FrontlineSMS?". http://t.co/0YXJkWMd #m4d #resilience

3 Circuit { 06.18.12 at 11:27 am }

"From text messaging to economic resilience" – or – "What's next after FrontlineSMS?". http://t.co/k88PffhU #m4d #resilience

4 Heather LaGarde { 06.18.12 at 11:27 am }

"From text messaging to economic resilience" – or – "What's next after FrontlineSMS?". http://t.co/k88PffhU #m4d #resilience

5 Jaume Fortuny { 06.18.12 at 11:38 am }

RT @TopsyRT: From text messaging to economic resilience http://t.co/k6F8e1GC

6 changefeed { 06.18.12 at 11:40 am }

->@kiwanja: From text messaging to economic resilience http://t.co/swQSLxoA

7 Fr@nthro { 06.18.12 at 1:55 pm }

#anthro blog post: From text messaging to economic resilience: Three weeks ago we announced that I was stepping … http://t.co/iupW2RM1

8 Emrys Schoemaker { 06.18.12 at 2:06 pm }

"From text messaging to economic resilience" – or – "What's next after FrontlineSMS?". http://t.co/k88PffhU #m4d #resilience

9 PopTech { 06.18.12 at 2:25 pm }

From text messaging to economic #resilience – what's next for @kiwanja http://t.co/iV5Yu0dT (@poptech http://t.co/e6bpSH53)

10 Imran Ali { 06.18.12 at 3:56 pm }

"how emerging, everyday technologies can be used to democratise opportunities for economic self-sufficiency" http://t.co/C2soFwWv

11 Ken Banks { 06.18.12 at 7:50 pm }

How might every day technologies be used to promote a return to local resource use? http://t.co/k88PffhU #resilience #mobile

12 socentech { 06.18.12 at 7:52 pm }

From text messaging to economic resilience by @kiwanja http://t.co/mryveZhK

13 NOMAD Project { 06.18.12 at 8:54 pm }

From text messaging to economic resilience http://t.co/DIDDEiuM interesting ideas from @kiwanga @frontlineSMS #ict4d #mobileDATAcollection

14 GeoPoll { 06.18.12 at 9:50 pm }

How might every day technologies be used to promote a return to local resource use? http://t.co/k88PffhU #resilience #mobile

15 Florence Scialom { 06.18.12 at 11:14 pm }

Means of exchange: @kiwanja's new project – From text messaging to economic resilience http://t.co/MUN4tvJa

16 IsaacHoleman { 06.18.12 at 11:20 pm }

Means of exchange: @kiwanja's new project – From text messaging to economic resilience http://t.co/MUN4tvJa

17 TechChange { 06.19.12 at 12:04 am }

From text messaging to economic resilience http://t.co/TEPtHZrY @kiwanja #ict4d #socent #sms #m4d

18 TechChange { 06.19.12 at 12:04 am }

From text messaging to economic resilience http://t.co/TEPtHZrY @kiwanja #ict4d #socent #sms #m4d

19 jon camfield { 06.19.12 at 12:05 am }

From text messaging to economic resilience http://t.co/TEPtHZrY @kiwanja #ict4d #socent #sms #m4d

20 jon camfield { 06.19.12 at 12:05 am }

From text messaging to economic resilience http://t.co/TEPtHZrY @kiwanja #ict4d #socent #sms #m4d

21 Give a Damn { 06.19.12 at 12:07 am }

RT @TechChange: From text messaging to economic resilience http://t.co/AkFOVXjN @kiwanja #ict4d #socent… http://t.co/KaeuNhHh #vgiveadamn

22 Ned Breslin { 06.19.12 at 12:39 am }

From text to economic resilience – loving and inspired by next move by @kiwanja http://t.co/xnnTDBzX

23 Kopernik { 06.19.12 at 1:28 am }

From text messaging to economic resilience http://t.co/TEPtHZrY @kiwanja #ict4d #socent #sms #m4d

24 Frederick Noronha { 06.19.12 at 5:38 am }

How might every day technologies be used to promote a return to local resource use? http://t.co/k88PffhU #resilience #mobile

25 Ananda Galappatti { 06.19.12 at 6:37 am }

Means of exchange: @kiwanja's new project – From text messaging to economic resilience http://t.co/MUN4tvJa

26 Paul Polak and team { 06.19.12 at 9:25 am }

"From text messaging to economic resilience" – or – "What's next for @Kiwanja after FrontlineSMS?" http://t.co/TOdyc1eC via @MeansofExchange

27 Ken Banks { 06.19.12 at 11:01 am }

Excited by the enthusiasm from techies and authors and journalists for my new "Means of Exchange" project. http://t.co/k88PffhU #resilience

28 Yvonne Krywyj { 06.19.12 at 11:40 am }

From text messaging to economic resilience http://t.co/1TeJQisj On hardship, innovation, and resilience-the former can spur the latter two.

29 Ryan Turner { 06.19.12 at 3:25 pm }

From text messaging to economic resilience. congrats @kiwanja on the new “Means of Exchange” effort http://t.co/lSIzb9JJ

30 Ken Banks { 06.19.12 at 4:38 pm }

Excited by the level of interest from journalists, techies and authors in the new @MeansofExchange project. http://t.co/k88PffhU #resilience

31 Means of Exchange { 06.19.12 at 4:39 pm }

Excited by the level of interest from journalists, techies and authors in the new @MeansofExchange project. http://t.co/0YXJkWMd #resilience

32 Curry Stone Prize { 06.19.12 at 5:36 pm }

@Kiwanja speaks about his new venture @MeansofExchange http://t.co/CPRhnJUG

33 Curry Stone Prize { 06.19.12 at 5:36 pm }

Excited by the level of interest from journalists, techies and authors in the new @MeansofExchange project. http://t.co/k88PffhU #resilience

34 BeMoRe { 06.19.12 at 7:01 pm }

From text messaging to economic resilience http://t.co/aEvTTTuG via @meansofexchange #mobile

35 Sarah Amani { 06.19.12 at 8:28 pm }

From text messaging to economic resilience. congrats @kiwanja on the new “Means of Exchange” effort http://t.co/lSIzb9JJ

36 jonfildes { 06.20.12 at 11:49 am }

The irrepressible @kiwanja 's new project looks fascinating – and very timely: http://t.co/D3L6P3NT

37 Gareth_Mitchell { 06.20.12 at 11:55 am }

The irrepressible @kiwanja 's new project looks fascinating – and very timely: http://t.co/D3L6P3NT

38 Diane Coyle { 06.20.12 at 11:57 am }

The irrepressible @kiwanja 's new project looks fascinating – and very timely: http://t.co/D3L6P3NT

39 DivorcedFromJustice { 06.25.12 at 6:19 pm }

RT @TopsyRT: From text messaging to economic resilience http://t.co/RYQQiNXL

40 Towards a Match.com for Economic Resilience in a Crisis-Stricken World | iRevolution { 07.04.12 at 7:17 am }

[...] exogenous shocks. “I’ve been taking an increasing interest in economic resilience,” writes Ken, “particularly how technology might help buffer local communities from global economic [...]

41 Towards a match.com for economic resilience in a crisis-stricken world « Voices from Eurasia { 07.12.12 at 2:00 pm }

[...] to exogenous shocks. “I’ve been taking an increasing interest in economic resilience,” writes Ken, “particularly how technology might help buffer local communities from global economic [...]

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