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A Close Look at Bali's Circles UBI Experience

In the rapidly evolving landscape of global economics, the conversation around Universal Basic Income (UBI) has taken on new dimensions, particularly in the context of developing nations grappling with the disparities of income and the rising cost of living. The film "Circles UBI Experience in Bali" offers a poignant insight into how a digital points-based UBI system, Circles UBI, is being trialed in Bali, Indonesia, aiming to build community resilience and foster a new economy of mutual support and shared prosperity.



Bali, a province renowned for its breathtaking landscapes and booming tourism industry, faces significant economic disparities exacerbated by global crises like the pandemic. The film opens with a local's perspective on the rise in prices, where a mere week can see the cost of basic goods like sugar escalating drastically. This narrative sets the stage for introducing Circles UBI as a potential solution to the growing economic challenges faced by the local communities, particularly those heavily reliant on tourism.


Circles UBI operates on a simple yet transformative idea: distributing digital points to individuals in the community, which can be used to exchange goods and services. This system not only promotes local business visibility and growth but also fosters a sense of community solidarity. Shop owners, artisans, and everyday consumers share their experiences of how Circles UBI has impacted their lives, from offering discounts and attracting new customers to enabling the exchange of goods without traditional currency.


The success of Circles UBI in Bali hinges on community engagement and education. The film highlights the diligent efforts of Field Officers (FOs) who traverse villages from dawn till dusk, introducing the program and assisting residents with the digital platform. Their commitment underscores the importance of trust and personal connection in implementing such innovative solutions.


It also shows how Circles UBI extends its impact through community events, like the Circles bazaar, which doubles as an educational and charitable initiative. These events serve as practical workshops for residents to learn about the system, engage in direct exchanges, and understand the value of their digital points in a tangible, community-centric setting.


A heartwarming community initiative covered in the film is "Circles for Love," a charity initiative powered by the accumulation of Circles points within the community. This endeavor highlights the profound effect of UBI when coupled with communal solidarity, providing for the vulnerable and fostering a culture of mutual aid and support.


"Circles UBI Experience in Bali" transcends the confines of a local experiment, positing the initiative as a microcosm for a global shift towards a more inclusive and supportive economic system. It challenges viewers to rethink traditional financial structures and envision a future where technology empowers communities to support one another beyond monetary transactions.

The film concludes on a note of hope and collective ambition, urging a reevaluation of societal norms and the exploration of innovative solutions like UBI to address persistent issues of poverty, inequality, and vulnerability.

The Circles UBI experience in Bali shows the potential of digital points-based UBI systems to foster community resilience, empower individuals, and redefine economic interactions. 


As we navigate the complexities of the modern world, initiatives like Circles UBI offer a glimpse into a future where technology and trust converge to create a more equitable society. The film not only educates but also inspires, urging communities worldwide to consider the transformative power of shared resources and collective support.


Acknowledging the Voices Behind the Movement


The documentary features insights from experts who have been instrumental in conceptualizing and developing the Circles UBI framework. Martin Köppelmann and Dr. Friederika Ernst, co-founders of Gnosis Ltd and co-creators of Circles, along with Shaunda Brown, CEO of Coöperatie Circles Balu U.A., provide depth and context to the implementation and potential of this innovative program. Additionally, Nawawi, M.A., Ph.D., and Yanu Endar Prasetyo from BRIN offer academic perspectives that underscore the significance and impact of the Circles UBI on local communities and beyond.


Special thanks go to the Circles Research Participants for sharing their insightful and personal experiences, which serve as the backbone of this documentary. These individuals include Dewi Hamilatul Rohmah, Ni Wayan Warsi, Pak Mustain, the owner of Warung Bakso, I Ketut Dwi Antara, Ni Made Darmasih, Ni Kadek Ayu, and again, Dewi Hamilatul Rohmah for her repeated engagement and insightful contributions.


The dedication of Research Field Team also deserves recognition for their unwavering commitment and effort in bringing this program to life. Gede Mantra, a notable community figure from Denpasar, alongside Muhamad Nurhuda, I Nyoman Budiastana, Ni Ketut Ayu Permatasari, and Tya, have played crucial roles in field operations across different regions including Mendoyo, Jembrana, Abiantuwung, Tabanan, and more, showcasing the extensive outreach and hands-on approach of the Circles initiative.


Together, these individuals' stories, efforts, and insights paint a comprehensive picture of the Circles UBI Experience in Bali, highlighting the challenges, successes, and transformative potential of this unique approach to social welfare and community resilience.


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