Building resilience amongst community businesses: Eifion Williams

Building resilience amongst community businesses: Eifion Williams

Building resilience amongst community businesses: Eifion Williams

Introduction

The UK economy has faced severe shocks in the past two decades, from the financial crash in 2008 to the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020. Small and medium size businesses have been particularly affected, with many at risk from liquidity issues and unemployment.

"Building on my Fellowship experience, I have now established a group of 33 circular economy practitioners." - Eifion Williams, Fellow

Social enterprise chief executive Eifion Williams (CF 2018) has piloted a new complementary currency in Wrexham, North Wales, to help build recovery and resilience amongst community businesses during the current and possible future downturns, with final preparations now underway for a full Wales roll-out. This new currency is a mutual credit system that provides a mechanism for businesses to do a portion of their trade without money, trading instead in goods or services; improving their sterling liquidity. It is based on a model called the Sardex, which Eifion researched on his Churchill Fellowship to Sardinia. There it has been used to great effect since 2010, helping community-facing businesses to stay afloat and saving local jobs and vital services.

Eifion presented his Fellowship learnings to Wales’ First Minister, Mark Drakeford, who has taken a keen interest in his work. In December 2019, the organisation Eifion leads was awarded £100,000 by the Welsh Government to build, pilot and hone down a replicated system, which has the potential to boost the Welsh economy by £256m in the next decade. The new system, called CELYN (meaning holly in Welsh), had its pilot launch a year later at an online event attended by Lee Waters, Deputy Economy Minister in the Welsh Government, chaired by Jane Davidson, Wales’s former Environment Minister. Eifion additionally received one of our Covid-19 Action Fund grants to help promote membership of the new system to local businesses and to share his findings with other regions across the UK.

Alongside this work, Eifion is campaigning for a community-benefiting circular economy which aims to see the elimination of all waste in Wales and its conversion into wealth at a local level. He does this via Circular Economy Wales, a social enterprise he founded following his Fellowship to France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Switzerland and the Netherlands. Whilst there, Eifion investigated six different complementary currency systems, the learnings of which have directly influenced the work he is doing now.

Eifion says, “My Fellowship has directly influenced not only the positioning of the CELYN as our flagship project, but also what we offer now more broadly. Witnessing first-hand the power of replicating global best practice, I have really valued utilising blueprints of proven concepts to help the communities in which we work. Building on my Fellowship experience, I have now established a group of 33 circular economy practitioners from across the world who specifically focus their efforts on community renewal.”

"Building on my Fellowship experience, I have now established a group of 33 circular economy practitioners." - Eifion Williams, Fellow

Social enterprise chief executive Eifion Williams (CF 2018) has piloted a new complementary currency in Wrexham, North Wales, to help build recovery and resilience amongst community businesses during the current and possible future downturns, with final preparations now underway for a full Wales roll-out. This new currency is a mutual credit system that provides a mechanism for businesses to do a portion of their trade without money, trading instead in goods or services; improving their sterling liquidity. It is based on a model called the Sardex, which Eifion researched on his Churchill Fellowship to Sardinia. There it has been used to great effect since 2010, helping community-facing businesses to stay afloat and saving local jobs and vital services.

Eifion presented his Fellowship learnings to Wales’ First Minister, Mark Drakeford, who has taken a keen interest in his work. In December 2019, the organisation Eifion leads was awarded £100,000 by the Welsh Government to build, pilot and hone down a replicated system, which has the potential to boost the Welsh economy by £256m in the next decade. The new system, called CELYN (meaning holly in Welsh), had its pilot launch a year later at an online event attended by Lee Waters, Deputy Economy Minister in the Welsh Government, chaired by Jane Davidson, Wales’s former Environment Minister. Eifion additionally received one of our Covid-19 Action Fund grants to help promote membership of the new system to local businesses and to share his findings with other regions across the UK.

Alongside this work, Eifion is campaigning for a community-benefiting circular economy which aims to see the elimination of all waste in Wales and its conversion into wealth at a local level. He does this via Circular Economy Wales, a social enterprise he founded following his Fellowship to France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Switzerland and the Netherlands. Whilst there, Eifion investigated six different complementary currency systems, the learnings of which have directly influenced the work he is doing now.

Eifion says, “My Fellowship has directly influenced not only the positioning of the CELYN as our flagship project, but also what we offer now more broadly. Witnessing first-hand the power of replicating global best practice, I have really valued utilising blueprints of proven concepts to help the communities in which we work. Building on my Fellowship experience, I have now established a group of 33 circular economy practitioners from across the world who specifically focus their efforts on community renewal.”