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).
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.
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.