Decolonising Economics is run by double-trouble duo Noni & Guppi
Guppi Bola (she/her) is a racial justice busy bee committed to building an economic democracy that supports multiracial working class communities to access wealth and resources needed to facilitate collective healing.
She has an academic background in public health, which she uses to focus her strategic thinking on the root causes of social inequality and ill health. Sometimes she writes things, her most recent piece was called Reimaging Public Health, a follow up to her stint as Interim Director of Medact. She is currently Chair of the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants. You can find out more on guppibola.com and she tweets at @guppikb
Nonhlanhla Makuyana (they/them) a multidisciplinary artist, organiser and educator. Their work focuses on challenging forms of knowledge that are valued under white supremacy and capitalism, instead holding spaces to explore and invest in more felt and lived sources of knowledge.
This looks cocreating research on Black people’s work, worth and value under capitalism, questioning the spiritual and ethical mindsets required to survive under capitalism and mobilising BPOC to define our own experiences under a system
seeks to write our stories for us.
They have a background in facilitation and teaching, they are a facilitator at Campaign Bootcamp and have been a campaigns coach at Advocacy Academy. Their anti-capitalism musings have been published on Gal-dem, Stir to Action and Global Justice Now. They are one of the cofounders of Don’t Tell The Village Elders, a grassroots collective seeking to imbed BPOC spiritual practices in the fight for our collective liberation. They are tarot for liberation practitioners, holding workshops on how the tarot can be an ally in our fight for our liberation. They are also an aspiring sonic artist who is interested in how we create containers for healing with sound. 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.
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 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 these communities is by continuously asking how we can be in a mutually supportive relationship with the traditions, cultures and practices that they organise within.
For 2021, our focus is to develop the organisation into a worker cooperative. 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 who are cooperative models of organisation building and decision making.
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.