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The Ora as facilitator of sustainable local economic development in Orania /6

orania 6The turnover, growth and promotion of the Ora
Local businesses stimulate the economy by giving discounts on payments made in Oras, and Orania prides itself on excellent financial services. The turnover of Oras increased from Ø23 500 on 3 May 2004 to approximately Ø100 000 on 2 July 2004 and increased further to Ø155 700 on 12 March 2005 (Taljaard 2005). It reached a peak of Ø190 790 during the Orania Show on 3 May 2005, after which it decreased to Ø172 000 on 13 May 2005. Of this amount about Ø40 000 was in the bank and an estimated Ø100 000 was bought by collectors and visitors to Orania who keep Oras as souvenirs. This means that only Ø30 000 to Ø40 000 Oras were in circulation in Orania, which was sufficient for performing all of its transactions (Opperman 2009:1). The correct amount of donations to Orania could only be determined after the A-series expired on 1 May 2006 (see Table 2).
The quarterly figures in column 1 of Table 1 are based on the number of Oras that were booked out of the vault for issuing and use in Orania at the end of each quarter. The turnover of Oras over the counter is very high and a large portion of the issued Oras is traded daily over the counter in the form of deposits and withdrawals. The OSK does not keep separate books to record the turnover of Oras, as they are handled together with Rands as cash. The figures are 95 percent correct and provision has been made for unissued Oras in the drawers of cashiers at the close of business (OSK 2008:1).
Figure show average Ora coupons in circulation for the period Q2 of 2004 to Q3 of 2008 and that there are significant fluctuations in the quarterly figures. These vary between +60,2 and -37,4 percent per quarter. After an initial slowdown in circulation the growth was progressive from Ø80 970 in March 2005 to Ø395 170 in September 2008, or a growth of 488 percent over a period of 4½ years. The lowest circulation was in September 2005, when only Ø73 110 was issued, and the highest in March 2008 with Ø438 300 issued.  

Orania table 2

An interest-free loan of Ø25 000 was also made to support the Orania Internet Services. This amount is used to sponsor advertisement boards for members of the Chamber of Commerce.
Quantifying the increase in the acceptance of the Ora as a means of payment was difficult (Opperman 2008:1). The increase in acceptance is an ongoing process of advertising to achieve more general acceptance of the Ora as a means of payment. The aim of the local Business Chamber is ultimately to use the Ora as the only method of payment as far as this is practically feasible. This emphasises the unique character of Orania to the world and to its visitors. This is confirmed by the wide support of the Chamber, for example, by sponsoring advertisement boards to 22 members at Ø800 per billboard. It also sponsors one page of free advertisements per item that is paid for by means of the Ora. The Chamber also finances the purchase of banners, hats, lights and infrastructure at the Friday evening markets. All payments at the Friday evening market are by means of the Ora, and the OSK facilitates the exchange of foreign currency for the Ora at the exchange points. Approximately R2 500 is exchanged for Ora at each Friday market (Opperman 2008:2).
An estimate was also done of the use of the Ora by the local community at the end of 2008. This showed that the percentage of Ora in the tills of traders on a specific day was as follows: OK Ora Grocers 30 percent, Eureka Supermarket 40 percent, Afsaal Café 50 percent and the Wine House 50 percent (Opperman 2008:2). A survey of local institutions shows that salaries and wages are paid in Ora at the following institutions: Town Council 50 percent, OSK 50 percent and Orania Movement 100 percent, while the Elim workers receive 70 percent of their wages in Ora (Opperman 2008:3). According to the OSK the deposits by businesses in 2008 consisted of 40 percent Ora and 60 percent in Rand, while R300 000 was handled in cheques over the counter per day. The Chamber also endeavours to increase the use of the Ora through creative thinking and projects, such as discounts when using the Ora and making the use thereof compulsory at the annual show and evening markets. Every issue of the local newspaper, Dorpsnuus, emphasises that local businesses and individuals are protected from theft if they make use of the Ora (Opperman 2008:3).
The Coloured community working on neighbouring farms uses the Ora occasionally due to its convenience and the economic gain. They sometimes ask to exchange Rand currency for Ora at the Eureka Supermarket for use at the Wine House, in order to qualify for the 5 percent discount. A farmer, Herman Wiid, has paid his workers at least once by means of Ora. Enquiries at stores where members of the Coloured community usually shop show that they pay with Ora occasionally (Opperman 2008:2).
According to Potgieter (2008:1) no records are kept of how often the farmers in the area use the Ora. Therefore, limited data on the use of the Ora is available, mainly because the OSK and businesses do not distinguish between the use of the Rand and Ora. A mixed system, rather than two separate systems for Oras and Rands, prevails. The contribution which the Ora has made to the establishment and development of institutions and the community is therefore not precisely determinable. Potgieter states that the OSK and the Ora do not make a direct or significant contribution to the growth of the Orania Movement, but are part of the general marketing of Orania. However, this underestimates the value of the Ora as discussed in this article.
According to Laubscher (2009:14) South Africa’s welfare is in its own hands. It cannot achieve a sustainable high growth level that is able to address poverty, unemployment and inequality decisively by doing more of the same thing. The answer lies in entrepreneurship and an enterprising spirit, creative thinking, innovation and in working hard and being productive. This is the opposite of crime and corruption, rent-seeking, uncritical thinking and expecting handouts. Orania is an example of what this means and how it can be achieved. Future research intends to survey all the businesses in Orania to determine why Orania has such a large number of businesses and what contributes to the entrepreneurship of this small town.

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Copyright by Ronald Mears



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