The Makkie is a reward scheme in the Makassarsquare neighbourhood, part of the Amsterdam East District. The purpose of De Makkie is to empower local people, to encourage them to take an active role in their community and to improve liveability in the Makassarsquare neighbourhood.
Although urban renewal has taken place in most parts of Amsterdam East District, the Makassar-square neighbourhood is an example of a neighbourhood that needs extra assistance to overcome high unemployment, crime, and problems related to low-income, low-education, and cultural differences. The municipality, housing corporations and local residents joined hands to improve the neighbourhood by reinvigorating the civil society. De Makkie contributes to these goals.
Local residents are rewarded with Makkies when they actively contribute to their neighbourhood or when helping out their neighbours on the request of the municipality, housing corporations, welfare institutions or professional organisations. It includes for example: cleaning public space, doing the housekeeping for an elderly person, or helping to organise a local event. Makkies can be redeemed for goods and services at local shops and organisations such as free entrance to the cinema, museum, or swimming pool, a significant rebate at local independent traders or a free subscription at the library. Participants of the scheme are encouraged to trade among themselves as well. For example, babysitting or administrative help. As a rule, one Makkie equals the value of one hour of work.
Amsterdam East residents discuss and evaluate how the Makkie works for their community. (In Dutch)
Compared to other neighbourhoods in Amsterdam, the Makassarsquare neighbourhood has many problems. There is an over-representation of social housing and many large families live in small houses. The salaries are much lower than the average in Amsterdam: 40% of all youth in this neighbourhood grows up in a household that is at the lowest level of income (Amsterdam 28%). Also the percentage of unemployed people is much higher than the average in Amsterdam.
The local government, the housing associations and other professional partners have joined to structurally improve the area. Residents also have geared up, there is a wide range of civic initiatives and, together with professionals, local residents established the Makassarplein Community (MPC).
The MPC has made a plan that focuses on (i) youth, (ii) families with multiple problems, (iii) isolated older people, (iv) drug addicts and homeless, and (v) the public space.
The MPC has become convinced that they should use innovative tools to make a difference and disided to work together with Qoin to introduce a community currency programme in the neighbourhood.
By introducing the community currency in the Makassarpleinbuurt we want to support the MPC to reach their goals in the neighbourhood and also help them to bring together the different projects within the MPC (being the “glue”). The objectives of the MPC are:
A clean, green area
Within the MPC there are several projects, aiming to improve the public space. It is the experience that a community currency programme encourage residents to help improve that public space themselves. Residents can earn points (worth one hour) when they participate in these projects.
A decrease of social isolation
In the Makassarpleinbuurt there are many people who have little contact with their neighbours or with other local residents. Often these are people who are social or physical disabled, who are not able to work, or who are not integrated into the Western society and do not speak the Dutch language. The MPC wants to identify those people better and supporting them to participate again in society.
Research on community currencies shows that fellow residents are more likely to contact with these vulnerable people. The local welfare organisation can ‘pay’ them with points when residents, for example, are making a chat with their neighbours, make a walk with someone through the park, playing a game, or help with cleaning, cooking, shopping, etc.
Enhance skills and self esteem
Many people in the Makassarpleinbuurt are unemployed, poorly educated and their opportunities for employment are small. They often get discouraged, lose a daily rhythm, and lose sight of their skills and the chance of a role in the society.
Community currency programs speak to people’s abilities, not to their limitations. The possibility to earn points can stimulate people to be active again. By doing little tasks, people not only help other people and their neighbourhood, but also build a network, are learning new skills, get a daily rhythm again, and be proud at themselves and the employment opportunities will increase.
Offering prospects for young people
Many young people are growing up in poor families and have poorly educated, unemployed parents. The families are large, the houses are small and in poor condition. The chances of this young generation are low. There are many programs aimed at young people. With the community currency programme young people can be reached that would otherwise not. The currency can challenge young people in a positive context to do ‘cool’ things. Partners is this project will organise internships and assignments for them. The rewards of participating for youth is earning points. Another important element is that we expect young people – once they are excited – can be the motor of the project.
Strengthen local entrepreneurs and the link between them and the neighbourhood
Local companies are really important for a neighbourhood. They create jobs, bring liveliness, contribute to safety on the streets. Developing linkages between these local companies, businesses and the residents is therefore of vital importance. In this project we will involve entrepreneurs in two ways: they will accept the community currency as a payment for certain products / services and we will also ask them to provide internships for young people in the neighbourhood to assist in obtaining a basic qualification.
We expect that after a year the MPC will have become a vital partnership, which is able to realize its goals.
The community currency has contributed to the improvement of the Makassarpleinbuurt: there are many initiatives going on, and new ones are in the pipeline. Residents, businesses, public services, civil society, professional organizations and the local government are actively involved.
There are less people in social isolation and residents and businesses can find each other easier. There are new friendships, there is a greater social involvement, individuals are more confident and know better what their skills are. The collaboration between residents, community and professional organizations, and between local entrepreneurs and community has been strengthened.
After a year:
And the community currency programme: