There can, in our opinion, be no doubt that both in the UK and abroad, recent years have seen an increase in financial hardship for many people. Whether rightly or wrongly the blame is often directed at the commercial banks, government policy, multinational corporations, new immigrants or work-shy citizens. Whatever the root cause our research as shown that the underlying issues always seem to revolve around three key areas; currency, contracts and markets.
i. Currency: From the Far East, to Southern Africa, to South America. In recent years citizens of different countries in these regions and beyond have been plunged into poverty as a direct result of currency manipulation and speculation by outsiders. In most cases these economies have never recovered and the ordinary people continue to suffer the consequences.
ii. Contracts: Whether simple financial contracts or agreements to do with the exploitation of natural resources, the recent trend has been heavily stacked in favour of multinationals and major corporations as opposed to individuals, local governments or small traders & producers. In the UK, organisations and movements such as the Plain English Campaign have recognised that both the small print and also the general wording of many consumer credit agreements has left many ordinary consumers completely bewildered and thus vulnerable to some very exploitative and unjust contracts.
iii. Markets: For many producers, growers and traders access to the market place is much more important than pricing policies or issue of fairtrade. If producers and traders are empowered to get their produce in front of the consumers or end users then they can negotiate an acceptable price and equitable terms. Cutting out unnecessary third parties ensures more money for producers who are then able to make their own decisions concerning issues of health, education and other important matters for themselves and those they may be responsible for. This is true both in the UK and abroad
UK supermarkets have not only dealt a death blow to many small shopkeepers but have also impacted adversely on farmers as well as severely restricting the possibilities of success for many small or independent traders. All this in a time of increasing unemployment and cut backs in public services and expenditure. A major factor deemed necessary in redressing these problems is to create vibrant free and trading spaces that give everyone in society the opportunity to make a living from trading, free of charge. An opportunity that will give producers direct access to end users and consumers. We call this concept the Open Market.
We want to create Open Markets which are vibrant and with free trading spaces that give everyone in society the opportunity to make a living from trading without charge. We think that our concept of the Open Market can radically change and regenerate communities and society in general for the better, and in doing so directly tackle issues of poverty, isolation and unemployment.
As well as promoting and progressing the idea of Open Markets the Open Trade Network engages in a number of training and educational projects focussed on:
• business skills,
• enterprise support,
• personal health and wellbeing
• using digital & multimedia.
• fundraising & capacity building,
• dealing with issues of diversity & equalities, and
• preparing for self-employment.
Partnerships and Projects
The following are some of the most recent projects of Open Trade Network.
ESF – Building Entrepreneurial Skills
This project is financed by the European Social Fund (ESF) and is aimed at giving support to the long-term unemployed and moving them closer to employment.
The Next Step
The Next Step was a small A4All funded capacity building project, aimed at supporting charities and social enterprises by offering training, professional development and targeted support to their trustees, key staff and volunteers.
Fundraising for Youth Projects Locally and in Europe
This projects was instigated by a number of European partners we had previously collaborated with in the field of training for youthworkers and capacity building organisations that serve and support youth initiatives across Europe.
A number of European initiatives were examined including Erasmus+ as well as general fundraising training and sharing best practices in a number of key areas.
British Isles Silver Dirham – Business Directory
Open Trade Network has supported the design, minting and distribution of this historic coin. The British Isles Islamic Silver Dirham coin (1 ISD) will not only sit alongside existing alternative currencies but will surpass them in that it is produced from a tangible substance, namely silver.
In conjunction with Ayn Gold (main supplier of Gold Dinars & Silver Dirhams in the UK) we will shortly be publishing a first directory of those traders and professionals who accept the silver dirham (1 ISD) in payment for goods and/or services.
Norwich Talent & Enterprise Development Centre
In partnership with DMC Consultancy and Community Life Enterprise we give on-going support in helping people develop their talents or what they have an aptitude for. For some this may mean becoming professional, finding a teacher, setting up a business or gaining a professional qualification
Norwich Free Market
The Norwich Free Market is a project of the Open Trade Network, in partnership and led by the Ihsan Mosque and Islamic Centre in conjunction with Theatre Royal Norwich and Norwich Wellbeing Centre (Community Life Enterprises). Additionally with a very active and resourceful group of individual volunteers. see separate tab for further information