What will the people of Puerto Rico achieve with a complementary currency?
NCG is launching a number of targeted economic development programs powered by broad distribution of the UNO, “the people’s currency”. Puerto Ricans will finally be empowered to drive their own marketplace and culture to new heights.
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- Startup businesses & entrepreneurship development: 100% of entrepreneurs who can present a credible business idea can receive a startup grant of UNOs to take their idea from raw concept to proof of concept (buyers who are willing to buy their goods or services) thereby proving that they have a viable business. Follow-on financial requirements can be satisfied by further UNO grants and/or conventional financing, which is much easier to obtain once a business is proven viable. In addition to the substantial intel and programs provided by our own Entrepreneurship Development resources, we are incorporating the 10-year-old program from 3 Day Startup (3DS) to train and help launch new startups. Through its partnership with the U.S. Department of State, 3DS has accelerated development in over 30 countries at 180 colleges and universities throughout the past decade.
- Volunteers and employees with existing non-profits: Grants can be provided to non-profits to pay for all or a portion of the salaries for employees and to provide grants to volunteers. We are working with Denison University to replicate their Denison Volunteer Dollars program throughout the roughly 150 colleges and universities on the island with approximately 160,000 college students.
- Creation of New Deal-type work projects: Resembling those established by FDR during the Great Depression, projects would target infrastructure in particular. Repairs, replacement, upgrade and new elements can all be funded with UNO grants.
- All manner of job training: Programs can be paid for with UNOs.
- Upon acceptance of UNOs for partial or complete payment for the goods and services provided by the island’s small businesses (~44,000), each business can be provided with an UNO line of credit to increase their purchasing power.
- Any business that accepts credit and debit cards for payment of goods and services will be able to process those payments through our organization. To the extent that they are willing to exchange a portion of the U.S. dollars they would take in from such transactions for UNOs, we will provide them with bonus UNOs based on the percentage of dollars they choose to exchange. That way, merchants can take in 100% of their selling price or more and not have to pay credit card fees.
- Grants can be made to businesses to partially or fully pay for the hiring of new employees (provided that they retain their existing employees).
- Around 97% of the energy consumed on Puerto Rico has to be imported, especially fossil fuels used to power vehicles and generate electricity. However, the island has a key resource that can be harnessed to substantially reduce its vulnerability to disruptions in fuel supplies – abundant sunshine.
- Solar energy to produce electricity would require the importation of solar panels manufactured elsewhere, which would have to be paid for with USD. However, the installation and maintenance of those system can be paid for by UNOs and consumers can pay for their energy in UNOs.
- Sunshine can not only be tapped to produce electricity, but also harnessed to produce biomass that can be converted into alcohol (ethanol), a substitute for gasoline. Sugar cane was at one time the number one crop on Puerto Rico, and Brazil has demonstrated how sugar cane can be used to dramatically reduce dependence on imported oil and gas. Beyond sugar cane however, the island has an abundance of another material that can be used to generate alcohol — the massive number of trees that were felled by the hurricane. We have teamed with a scientist on the island who has developed an effective and efficient way to produce alcohol from wood and other cellulosic materials. This could be done with distillation plants located in and owned by all of the 78 cities and towns throughout Puerto Rico, all built and managed with resources available locally. Nearly 100% of this alcohol generating system to replace gasoline could be paid for by UNOs and residents can then purchase that community generated fuel with their UNOs.
- Wind and tidal resources represent additional sources of electricity, but likely will require financing to purchase the plant and equipment needed. However, the labor for construction and maintenance can come from UNOs, as well as the purchase of the electricity generated.
- It is a rare non-profit, city or town, school or other such organization that has an operating budget sufficient to meet their needs. Our program can eliminate shortfalls by providing them with open-ended grants in the form of draw-down accounts.
- Partial or full payment of the goods and services such organizations need to make to outside suppliers.
- In addition to operating expenses and purchases, many of those organizations need funds to cover building, infrastructure and the like, including repair, replacement and new facilities and plants. UNOs can be used to pay for any and all such requirements, provided they can be sourced on the island and do not require the importation of items that need to be paid for with other currencies.
- Public safety personnel in the form of police, fire and emergency responders could be fully funded by UNOs, with the exception of any equipment that would need to be purchased off-island. Buildings and the like could largely be funded by UNOs.
- All manner of personal financial subsidies are possible under this system. We call such grants “living income vouchers” or LIV grants. They can provide:
- Basic income program for people who cannot work or for whom paid options are limited. This would include those who contribute to Puerto Rico’s cultural heritage and development such as artists, musicians, filmmakers and writers.
- Universal grants to all Puerto Ricans for food grown locally and energy produced on the island.
- Supplementary (partial) grants for other needs.
- Child daycare so that parents are freed up to work, go to school or whatever else they need to do, and in-home care for the elderly and disabled, etc.
- With the exception of pharmaceuticals and other medical items that would need to be purchased off-island, a universal healthcare system could be supplemented by UNOs, wherein medical personnel (doctors, nurses, EMTs and others) would receive some or all of their salary in UNOs. Hospitals and clinics could be largely built and maintained by UNOs.
- Huge numbers of homes were significantly damaged or completely destroyed by the storms. Large numbers of residential construction professionals, including architects, builders, construction workers and subcontractors like plumbers, electricians, roofers and woodworkers, can be hired with UNOs and deployed to repair and replace the many thousands of homes that were damaged.
- One interesting option for rebuilding homes is the system offered by DomeGaia. They build — and teach how to self-build — dome homes that can be adapted for Puerto Rico. The homes are built with AirCrete, a lightweight non-toxic masonry material that is easy and inexpensive to make yourself. AirCrete is a type of autoclaved aerated concrete that is fire, moisture, pest and mold resistant, and simultaneously provides structure and insulation. Dome homes made from AirCrete are much less expensive to build than conventional stick houses and have the added benefit of being nearly impervious to hurricane winds – ideal for replacement of homes damaged by those storms. Thousands of jobs could be created to build such homes out of materials largely available on the island.