Garages, restaurants, bakeries, bookshops, furniture stores, accountants, and beauty clinics all cooperate within the Local Exchange Circuit called RET, in the capital of El Salvador: San Salvador. RET is a project that STRO and local partner development organisation FADEMYPE have initialised together. Micro and small enterprises that are part of the RET exchange products and services without using the national currency, but a system of internal accounts (expressed as UDIs).
How does it work? The mechanic settles the bill for repairing the baker’s car in UDIs. Restaurants have their chairs repaired and are paying for it UDIs. In this way RET-enterprises regulate operations without a bank as intermediary, thus cutting the costs of the cash needed. This creates investment chances for entrepreneurs. The RET has more than 100 members, mostly informal micro-enterprises. The monthly turnover in UDIs is still small, but increasing rapidly.
Loans in UDIs Loans can be made in UDIs, as far as it concerns purchases within the network. In other words: interest-free investing in the business community becomes possible. An important step forward, because in El Salvador most banks refuse to supply loans to small companies. And if they do, the interests are sky-high. Yet, these small enterprises are extremely important to the economy and the people in El Salvador. More than 20 percent of the people make a living from these enterprises.
Consumers The RET-network is still much like a conventional barter, but in the
future it will be possible for customers of these businesses to also
pay in UDIs. They will receive a bonus when buying UDIs (e.g. 10$ buys
11 UDIs) making it more attractive for consumers to participate in RET.
This will be the last step towards a complete C3.