Politicians do not measure the effectiveness of an economic system on the resources and potentials underused or spoiled, nor on the capital stock that promises future wealth, but merely on GNP and consequently on tax income. It is an understandable point of view for a minister of Finance who has to pay the bills and the interest on the outstanding debt. But as a consequence, the attention on the utilization of spare capacity is almost nil.
The heart of the Social Trade concept is that all used and latent capacities should have the chance to be employed and then people will choose how to make the best of their lives. In our society, money is the central tool in making this choice possible. However, once motivations other than simply functioning as a means of exchange start to dominate our money (like money as a commodity, speculation, etc.), it does not provide that function. Social Trade programs focus on enabling money to fulfill its function as a means of exchange: to encourage entrepreneurship, to mobilize unused or underused capacities etc.
The secretary of the association for small entrepreneurs in Uruguay explained why the excess capacities of many local communities are not being used: “sometimes I lose a job that I could have done profitably, because I do not have the money to pre-finance the raw materials needed in the process. When I go to the bank with my problem, they do not deal with it. It is too small and to invest such a small amount of money in commercial capital is out of their reality”.
Lack of commercial credit forms an obstacle for many entrepreneurs. Besides that, many entrepreneurs face the problem that clients do not have enough money to buy their product. STRO’s alternative approaches address both aspects.