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BerkShares are a local currency issued through BerkShares, Inc. a place-based, democratically structured non-profit organization in the Berkshire region of Massachusetts. BerkShares, Inc. works in collaboration with participating local banks, local businesses, and local non-profit organizations to strengthen the Berkshire regional economy through a local currency program and related pursuits. The circulation of BerkShares encourages capital to remain within the region, building a greater affinity between the local business community and its citizens.


Launched in the fall of 2006, BerkShares had a robust initiation, with over one million BerkShares circulated in the first nine months and over 5.5 million to date. Currently, more than four hundred businesses have signed up to accept the currency. Three different banks have partnered with BerkShares, with multiple branch offices now serving as points of exchange.


Echoing the local currencies widely used throughout the early 1900s, BerkShares serve as a tool for community economic empowerment and development towards regional self-reliance. BerkShares are meant to maximize the circulation of goods, services, and capital within a defined region, thus strengthening the local economy. Commonplace during the early 1900s, local currencies are once again being recognized as a tool for sustainable economic development. The currency distinguishes the local businesses that accept the currency from those that do not, fostering stronger relationships between the responsible business community and the citizens of the region. The people who choose to use the currency make a conscious commitment to buy local products and support locally owned businesses, and in doing so take a personal interest in the health and well-being of their community, laying the foundation for a truly vibrant, thriving economy.


The members of BerkShares, Inc. envision a diverse and resilient regional economy that supports and prioritizes responsible production and consumption, wherein community members rely on the land and each other to fulfill the basic needs of food, culture, clothing, shelter, and energy.


BerkShares are placed in circulation when citizens exchange federal dollars for BerkShares at any of the participating banks. The exchange rate is ninety-five cents per BerkShare. Citizens who exchange their dollars for BerkShares therefore gain 5% in buying power because, for example, ninety-five federal dollars will yield one hundred BerkShares, which can be used to purchase goods or services worth 100 dollars. BerkShares are printed in denominations of 1, 5, 10, 20, and 50.


Last update: March 2015


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Type of initiative Other (specify): Local Currency
Field of work Financial services
Date of commencement 2006
Legal form Incorporation
Continent North America
Country USA
City Great Barrington
One or several keywords that describe your initiative Local Currency
Publications Website, newsletter
More information

Contact person(s)

Alice Maggio


Contact information

Name BerkShares, Inc.
Address P.O. Box 125
Zip/postal code MA 01230
Place Great Barrington
State/province Massachusetts
Country USA
Phone +1 413 5281737



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