About Local Economies


Ideas coming together

The ideas that eventually turned into LocalEconomies.org came from a variety of people, experiences, and conversations (there’s probably a blog post in there somewhere). It was in 2020 that these strands started to coalesce into a concrete plan. Anna Lowe spent some time working out what was needed to support the transition to a decentralized production system, thanks to financial support from the the Shuttleworth Foundation, via Shuttleworth Fellow Andrew Lamb. 


MAKE Project Proposal

The concept of an Open Catalogue of Business Models made its way into a funding bid to the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme as part of the MAKE project. In 2021 the consortium partners were delighted to be notified that the application was successful, and the project could start the following year. 


Interviews & workshops

Research for the Open Catalogue of Business Models started in early 2022. MAKE project partners participated in ideation workshops and potential users of the catalogue were asked what would be useful for them. Makerspaces and local manufacturers from across Africa and Europe were invited to online interviews about their business models. More interviews, workshops, and informal conversations took place at Re:Publica 2022 and the Global Innovation Gathering in Berlin, Germany in June; at the Africa Open Science Hardware conference in Yaoundé, Cameroon in September; at the FabFest in Bali, Indonesia in October; and the Africa Makerspace Gathering in Cape Town, South Africa in November.  

July 2023

Catalogue v1 released

The complete Open Catalogue of Business Models was first published on 31 July on Zenodo and subsequently on the MAKE project web site. Work started immediately to share it with people who could benefit from it, as well as to gather feedback for the next round of enhancement. 


October 2023

Afrilabs Presentation

Work done to date was presented in-person for the first time at the Afrilabs annual gathering in Kigali, Rwanda by Martin Oloo. 

December 2023

LocalEconomies.org Web Site Launched

The LocalEconomies.org website launched in December 2023 as the new home of what was previously called the Open Catalogue of Business Models. It has been designed to allow for more natural navigation of the information and continuous update and enhancement. The development of the web site was financed by the RISA fund and created by Peacock Creative Design.

Future developments

We have lots of plans and activities in the pipeline, including:​

  • Developing examples and case studies to feature alongside each blueprint
  • Translation of our Open Blueprints into Ukrainian in partnership with the Ukrainian Maker Association
  • Ongoing work to start translations into several other languages
  • Interviewing makerspaces and local manufacturers in the Americas, Asia, and Australasia to add to the existing focus on Europe & Africa – the Blueprints will be continually updated as we discover new information.
  • A series of interviews with Open Hardware companies to allow us to include more information on their successful models
  • Assembling an Advisory Board to provide expertise and support our work

Please get in touch to contribute to these activities or to tell us what you think we should be working on.