Decolonising Economics is run by double-trouble duo Noni & Guppi
Guppi Bola (she/her) is a senior consultant strategist with over fifteen years experience in economics, health and climate issues. Her academic background is in public health, which she uses to focus her strategic thinking on the root causes of social inequality and ill health.
She is author of Reimagining Public Health, a follow up to her stint as Interim Director of Medact. She has been the Chair of the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants since 2019-2022.
You can also find Guppi engaged in ceramic work with terracotta – her way of connecting to the red clay soil of Punjab, and fermenting as a form of healing the gut and exploring microbial justice.
Find out more on guppibola.com and she tweets at @guppikb.
Nonhlanhla Makuyana (they/them) is a multidisciplinary artist, organiser and educator. Their work focuses on the research and archiving of economic liberatory practices that exist within Black queer communities, seeking to shift power and resources towards these communities.
You can read more about their research on gal-dem and Africans in the Diaspora.
Heavily inspired by the Black Feminist tradition, they design and deliver experiential workshops to explore the felt and lived legacies of the enslavement of Black people. They do this in partnerships with Black grassroots groups such as the Black Feminist Reading Group. and Don’t Tell The Village Elders.
Noni is also a DJ and cofounder of Altblax, a collective founded on creating safe fun and joyous spaces for Black Queer, Trans and Gender nonconforming people, you can listen to them here.They tweet at @itmeNoni
How we got started
We came together in 2017 to develop a training that was featured in the New Economy Programme for Stir To Action and went on to run “Our Power” workshops over the following two years. In this time, we supported the Akuno family from Cooperation Jackson in the US to come to the UK for a joint event with the Afrikan Cooperative Union, and facilitated their wider European tour as part of an international learning project.
In 2019, we shared our vision in multiple written pieces and at events for Stir to Action, Skin Deep, Consented UK, New Economics Foundation and Global Justice Now. It was only at the beginning of 2020 that we were granted a small bit of seed funding to explore what Decolonising Economics could become if we were to invest time in developing our strategy. This site, and its contents are a reflection of those 12 months of inquiry and our way of capturing our ongoing journey through collective organising.
The way we see change happen
Our analysis and vision have been deeply guided by the work of Movement Generation’s framework for a Just Transition, and inspired by their words in From Banks and Tanks to Cooperation and Caring. To understand how we translate this framework into practice, head to Our Work, or get in touch!
Our strategy is guided by the following principles
We work with the spirit of collaboration, recognising that we use our power and wisdom strategically when we use it together. We understand capitalism as the engine of competitiveness, and so partnerships create the space to learn, reflect and build a culture of codependency.
We work with those we hold deep and trusting relationships with, and we work to build deep trusting relationships with others. We believe that trust is the foundation of an aligned movement, and in trust building we begin to heal patterns of harm that are a reflection of a racial capitalist system. We hold relationships across academia, researchers, activists, community organisers and NGO workers.
We work to build a culture of inclusivity and accessibility. We recognise that capitalism has constructed many barriers for marginalised communities to fully participate in the economy. Intersectionality reflects our commitment to open up the economy, specifically to LGBTQi+, disabled, the multiracial working class and elders.
“The body is a site of knowledge production” – Healing Justice London. We recognise the privilege that we hold in being supported to do this work. We believe that to move out of capitalism, we need to repair and recover our relationships with each other and we need to value a different form of knowledge production. As such, we commit to redistribution of our relationships, resources, time, capacity and skills, as well as compensating for the time of grassroots collectives and organisers for their expertise and leadership.
“Colonisation has limited our capacity to imagine a world out of this system” – Adrienne Maree Brown. As such, creativity is central to our work. We recognise that economic thought and practice has rested in an overly academic/institutional frame, which in turn excludes a lot of BPOC solidarity economics practices. Our commitment is to cultivate a movement of explorative and diverse ways of responding to capitalism.
We work alongside and in deep connection with an ecosystem of organisations working towards racial and economic justice.
These relationships have shaped our politics and practices of working, and we continually work to extend and deepen our participation in each other’s shared strategies. One of the ways we stay accountable to our organising principles is by continuously asking how we can be in a mutually supportive relationship with the traditions, cultures and practices that they organise within.
On this page we have mapped organisations that we have partnered with through committed collaboration and joint exploration.
Over the coming year, our focus is to explore building an organisation based on worker cooperative principles. Cooperatives have a long history within Black and Brown communities for supporting economic development that centers the needs of the community instead of profit. As a collective, we want to internally develop and practice the liberatory internal structures that value workers rights, collective decision making and regenerative relationships based on trust and interdependence. We’ll be doing this alongside others in our ecosystem.
Our belief is that “new economy” initiatives are merely repackaged versions of solidarity economic practices that are instinctual to BIPOC communities. Our grandparents grew vegetables in the small plots of their gardens, and shared the produce with their neighbours. They pooled funds to cover the costs of medical bills, travel or education of their friends. They invested in care networks for new migrants arriving in the UK, setting them up with housing and jobs, and a place to eat a warm meal. Care and solidarity have been at the centre of nourishing our own communities, recognising that the system itself was never built to support us. Formally establishing ourselves as a cooperative, and supporting others to do so, is our way of shifting narratives around the economy that respect and identify the leadership of BPOC communities.