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Green America Exchange – Finally Getting Bartering Right?

| Friday August 6th, 2010 | 0 Comments

With troubled economies often comes inventive solutions. It’s a must, to continue. Green America Exchange (GAEx) is one such solution. GAEx helps businesses can get what they need, in a time where credit lines may be short, and customers more scarce then you’d like.

It’s based around bartering, an old idea really, but packaged with the substance and structure that comes with green business stalwart Green America (formerly Co-op America) Further bolstering the GAEx is the fact that it comes with an already robust network of members, since nearly everyone that attends the Green Festival, America’s largest and longest running green business/life focused festivals, is signed up as a member.

What is GAEx, and how does it work? As it puts it,

GAEx will help your business use what it has to purchase what it needs without spending cash. It works like a barter system, but much better and much more flexible. GAEx will…

• Offer a cash flow solution
• Enable participation in a peer-to-peer credit system
• Support the green economy by increasing the resiliency and efficiency of green businesses
• Provide our members another sphere of socially responsible commerce in which to network and do business with each other.

Your business can realize additional sales, gain new customers, conserve cash, support fellow green businesses, and get products you need all in the same place.

This all sounds grand, but what’s it look like, in practical execution? How is it different from other alternative trade systems/currencies that have had inconsistent success?

First, Green America makes a small profit on each transaction (a combination of conventional and GETS trade dollars) funding its ability to actively maintain and support this system. Beyond that, Green America staff helps members market within the system, coordinate trades, and get clarity on which of their business needs could be met through GAEx.

Premium members actually get an interest free credit line, based in Green America Exchange GETS Dollars, whose amount is equal to what products/services would cost in conventional dollars. Interestingly, it also includes a full time broker dedicated to helping you buy and sell to system members, along with assistance in sourcing local goods and services.

GAEx’s pragmatism is what will make this work beyond just those already motivated to explore alternative exchange systems. This sentence says it all, “Using GAEx Trade Dollars to pay for variable expenses such as advertising, consulting services or web development makes it easier for you to cover fixed expenses such as your lease or wages using the national currency.” This list of reasons to join is impressive.

I’ve seen many attempts at alternative currencies and barter systems come and go, but this sounds like it has the both the durability and the practicality to both last and grow, serving as a powerful conduit for the growing green economy. It’s still early days, but with greater participation, this could be a phenomenal resource.

Readers: What alternate or augmenting means to make it as a business are you seeing out there? What can we learn from past failures, current successes?

Paul Smith is a sustainable business innovator, the founder of GreenSmith Consulting, and has an MBA in Sustainable Management from Presidio Graduate School in San Francisco. He creates interest in, conversations about, and business for green (and greening) companies, via social media marketing.


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