Delayed but not denied!

Using my network, I visited Cagliari three years ago and connected with Giuseppe, one of the founders of Sardex. During my conversation with Giuseppe,I learned more about Sardex and their expansion plans for individuals to participate in the network. At the end of our conversation, I told him we were bringing students next summer (2020). Unfortunately, the pandemic hit and we had to delay the trip to 2022.

After a long delay at the airport, we arrived in Cagliari around1am. Our first day (after getting much needed rest) was a class lecture reviewingthe concepts of networking and ties. The students connected the research to the book about Sardex and their own networks. Towards the end of class discussion, they created a list of questions for Sardex and the author of the class book, When Money Changes Society. We will have an opportunity to speak with Giacomo Bazzani via zoom during our stay in Rome.

After class, we had a guided tour of castles, catherderals and how life in the city was affected by the pandemic. At the end of the tour, we ate at a local restaurant that offered traditional Sardinian food with roasted pig, vegetables and chips with melted cheese aka nachos.

The next morning, we met Sardex at a local co-working space in Cagliari. They provided a presentation about the network, transactions and shared a qr code for the students to download the app and view businesses for shopping. Our visit left us with more questions and I began to see holes in the network that were not present several years ago. We had some free time after the meeting and walked to a local mall for a snack break. Our SAI contact in Cagliari reserved dinner at Fassoneria for us at a local hamburger place. It was a good break from pizza, pasta and seafood. Over dinner that night, we discussed the Sardex presentation, questions that were not answered and wondered about the future of the network being able to expand off the island.

For our last day in the city, the students had a scavenger hunt at the local San Benedetto market. The largest covered market in Italy and one of the largest in Europe, it hosts spaces dedicated to the sale of fish, meat, fruit and vegetables, food and various services. The students had to find at least three different types of businesses that were in Sardex. Unfortunately, this was a difficult challenge because only 2 were in the market. This was a drastic change from five that were here during my visit in March 2019. However, the conversation with one of the businesses, a bakery, was very fruitful. She shared why she joined and the challenge of leaving it because her business did not have a lot of transactions within the network. I found a business outside of the market that sells hearing aids and was a member of the Sardex network. My conversation with him was similar as he shared that less 1% of his transactions are within Sardex. Why is this important? Well, Sardex was created to help the economy of Sardinia (see previous blog post in the research section). They are selective about who can join using a position called the broker. The broker evaluates potential businesses because they want to make sure there is supply and demand based on the goods of the business. Each business pays a certain amount based on revenue, number of employees, etc. and it can range from 400 euros to almost a million. During the presentation, Sardex shared that they had their largest company join paying almost a million euros.

The Sardex model was created not to replace the euro but as acomplementary currency and a way for businesses to exchange good and services with each other. It is a closed network and you have to join to view any businesses that are a part of it. After spending time in Cagliari, the researcher in me was left with a lot of questions, hypotheses and a desire to spend a lot of time with the Giacomo about his research.

Next stop: Rome!

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