The REconomy Centre may be the least known innovation in Totnes. It quietly provides a drop-in work space for anyone developing their own livelihood, new enterprise, or community project. It’s also an incubator of sorts, providing a range of support and capacity building programmes for interested entrepreneurs, some of whom have gone on to pitch investors at the Local Entrepreneur Forum. The member list is long, too, and includes Tresoc, School Farm, Encounters Arts, the Totnes Pound, and many more enterprises and projects making good things happen in Totnes and South Devon.
What makes it innovative is the model. It is self-managing, has lots of peer to peer support and collaboration, including peer-led skillshare sessions, and it runs on a ‘pay what you can’ membership fee. Currently, expenses are very low – it enjoys very generous terms from property owner South Hams District Council, who recognize the contribution the REconomy Centre makes to the community. As a result, it’s accessible and affordable. And regardless of ability to pay in Pounds Sterling, there is a complementary system of exchange – of reciprocity, if you like – providing an opportunity to explore alternative interpretations of default economic assumptions. And so, the REconomy Centre is delivering huge social and economic impact for almost zero budget measured in Pounds, in other words, an outstanding return on investment.
A few metrics over the last year:
- Membership – over 80
- Visits – over 3,000
- Meetings – over 265
- Workshops and surgeries – 18 with 150 attendees
- Time invested – over 300 volunteers hours have been generously invested
- An estimated £9,300 spent by members with High Street shops and local businesses
What’s more difficult to measure are the results of conversations and collaborations that lead to new ideas and new projects. What’s cooking now? Recent topics of ongoing conversations include the ‘library of things’, a community owned shop, and an ambitious alternative online payment platform. This talk may lead to action and these ideas realised. Perhaps they’ll be pitched at the Local Entrepreneur Forum, one day, like GroCycle and Argand Solutions. In the meantime, those little threads are joined by others, weaving productive relationships among and between different people and organisations, entrepreneurs and investors, catalysts and connectors. It is all part of an emerging entrepreneurial culture and ecosystem creating the conditions for more innovation, more livelihoods, and more solutions.
For more information and to get involved, please get in touch.