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Rubem Berta

Mudando a cara: facelift. Occupants and entrepreneurs in Rubem Berta, a poor neighbourhood in the periphery of Porto Alegre, Southern Brazil, decided to tackle poverty and crime themselves. It all began with STROhalm’s partner, Instrodi, training this community in the use of a local exchange system. This was done with our usual goal: to make use of unused production capacities to stimulate the local economy. The beneficiaries of this local exchange system are the inhabitants and micro and small firms of the poor and sometimes violent neighbourhood Rubem Berta (40,000 people).

Community members now want to turn the unused production capacities into uplifting their neighbourhood. Houses must be painted brightly and tidied up in order for the neighbourhood to become more accessible for the police force. With this, extra security will come to the district resulting in transforming the neighbourhood into a more pleasant one to live in. How is this done?

Introduction of Rubi
The local currency, “Rubi”, started to circulate in August 2004, with the first credits being granted and weekly Rubi-markets being organised. A year later, loans worth an equivalent of about 800 reais have been submitted. Rubi’s can be spent at local fairs, for local services such as the painting of apartments and (partially) in some 50 local shops. It has also been used in giving donations to churches. Every three months the loan contract has to be renewed or repaid. This gives a moment of contact to see if members might use help to learn either spending or earning. If people have become member just to spend and do not show up to discuss their debt to the other members, legal steps might be taken.

Salary in Rubi's
The Community security guards and painters who cooperate in this “Mudando a cara” are getting their salary (partly) in the form of Rubi’s. With these Rubi’s they can buy products on the weekly Rubi-market where local community products and services can be bought.

Through these initiatives the neighbourhood will not only be tidied up, but it also offers many inhabitants a chance to learn about entrepreneurship, gradually moving towards a strong local knowledge system. The community itself is undergoing a facelift with people participating in the programmes - brainstorming for new ideas to create employment whilst at the same time making the neighbourhood a friendlier one. Indeed there has been a facelift also for the locals in the community: they have reason to smile again.

Partners
Strong partners such as the Municipality and the PUCRS (university)1 and less formal partners such as the residents committee (AMORB) and the local businesses association (ASCORB) are all part of the project.

Download report
If you want to download a report on the Rubem Berta project in 2005 please click here.



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