Expanding FairCoop in Italy, from the Milan local node and its recent innovations

Author: Milan local node

The Milan local node is glad to share the following news with all of you. For the last three months, we have been organizing and managing several "Fair Trade" events in the new FairSpot in MACAO.

MACAO is a squatted and independent centre for arts, culture and research, supported by a big community and well known. We are part of this community, as a local node, acting as a bridge between the MACAO self-organized system and the FairCoop ecosystem. We believe MACAO is a good spot to spread FairCoop and its principles throughout the whole city.

Our colaboration with MACAO, that uses an internal social currency, the Common Coin (CC) -for instance, for paying for different services offered by people in their community, started when we were asked to organize a market there, in order to give their community access to products sold in CC. 

According to our agreement, MACAO gives us Euros to buy the products to be sold in the market. But, as in the local node we already have some suppliers in FairCoin, we change some of these Euros into FAIR and buy some products with them too. This way, we also get some Euros for our POE (Point of Exchange). Then, we provide these products to MACAO so that they can be sold, every Tuesday, in their Cryptomarket, with the local currency used by the community and also with FairCoin. In this way, FairCoin is acting as a bridge, allowing the use of the internal MACAO social coin and, in the meantime, allowing us to trade with local producers and introducing them to our network.

So, right now, we the members of the local node, together with some of our "fair friends", shop using FairCoin at this market; meanwhile we are building up a community in Milan which is using FairCoin and can join our "fair market".

We started with these trades thanks to the collaboration of the Sicilian local node. At the moment, we are in contact with three different Sicilian producers who accept FairCoin. We also collaborate with the Lunigiana local node, and we are supporting the creation of a new node in Brianza (an area close to Milan), helping them to connect with producers who are interested in creating a circular economy in their area.

Furthermore, we have organized some meetings and presentations in order to introduce the FairCoop ecosystem to producers, merchants and consumers, inviting them to join our network in order to boost the circular economy. As a result, we are now in contact with various different big purchasing groups in Milan.

 

The following is an overview of our experience in engaging people to be part of the ecosystem. The process is slow, but it is starting to bear fruit. 

We basically follow three steps to create a logical commercial process:

  1. We firstly buy products in Euro and sell them in FairCoin or in CommonCoin, as in the case of MACAO. We provide information about the ecosystem and the people supporting it.
  2. We ask these and other producers to sell part of their products in FairCoin, and invite them to try this cryptocurrency, to discover the FairMarket and the whole ecosystem, and also show them some tools commonly used within FairCoop.  When they ask us to convert their profits back to Euro, we help them in this process.
  3. We look for providers for these producers. Right now, we're trying to purchase all products using FairCoin from returning trade partners. Some producers are in turn interested in buying other products from the network. We all know that the more offers of goods and services we have inside the ecosystem, the more interest will grow and the real circular economy will be boosted.

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After the last month of work we have put in, we've found that we urgently need to talk about the following topics:

  • Offers, needs and quality of products
  • Transport and logistics
  • Future steps

 

Offers, needs and quality

We provide, for the moment from Sicily, all those products not available locally or not easily accessible in our area, such as oranges, lemons, almonds, good quality olive oil and so on. Equally, we provide fresh products like vegetables, fruit, or salami, and body care products available in closer proximity. This way, we're keeping in mind the ecological sustainability of our trade partnerships.

Right now, we are in contact with producers and merchants who can offer a range of products, and we are debating about how to deal with different producers offering the same merchandise. Indeed, it's difficult to decide on criteria to choose between one producer or another, and at the same time keep in touch with all of them. Of course, quality and social involvement are the main requirements and, following these guidelines, we've been testing different products and producers. First of all, we give priority to organic products, and we try to visit production sites when possible.

We make contact with new people thanks to a proximity network made up of trusted people who help with getting in touch with interested parties. As a node, we believe that our role is to ensure the quality of goods and to make sure producers respect the criteria we've chosen. We do our best to check all processes concerning the production chain, even if we are aware that we cannot check every step. In this way we try to raise levels  of confidence in the products, and support a mechanism based on mutual trust. 

 

Transport and logistics

We cannot actually deal with freight transport outside of Italy (e.g. to Switzerland) without a global view regarding the transport documentation needed. We still haven't found a convenient cargo service within Freedom Coop, mainly because in Italy we don't have any FairCoop legal support team to help out with these issues. However, we are working on it.

 

Future steps

Thanks to our collaboration with MACAO, we've been building links with artists about the possibility of selling their artwork in FairCoin. On our FairMarket shop, you can now buy a vinyl etching, and we would like to sell posters and artworks produced by the MACAO transfeminist lab. Besides this, we support  projects close to us like "Senza peli sulla lingua", by Landscape Choreography, and more and more...

Also we are trying to set up a project to self-produce beer, so that we'll be able to cover what is certainly a major need inside the Fair economy.

An interesting project now taking place in the carpentry lab that MACAO recently set up is the Coop Ebony, a self-managed cooperative of migrant woodworkers. We think it would be interesting to involve this joinery workshop in the FairCoop network, and so we are initially planning to provide each member of Coop Ebony with a personal crypto wallet, and also would like to start selling the products they produce on the FairMarket. Customers of the FairMarket will soon be able to order their products!

Within the framework of all new projects showing interest in the ecosystem, we'd like to get in touch with FuoriMercato (a national project organized in the form of a mutual-aid network), and we are already in contact with RES, a consortium of Italian cooperatives.

Finally, we are little by little introducing FairCoop principles to small merchants and retailers in the urban area as a first step towards inviting them to use FairCoin.

 

We hope that the experiences described here will inspire more projects and local nodes to start their own FairSpot shop, and we hope to open up a dialogue with all nodes already facing similar challenges. We are all working together to expand our Fair Economy into new markets. Who wants to be next?

If you would like to contact us, feel free to send an email to .

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