Butterworth was chosen for this research as one of the growth points in the former Transkei under apartheid. Prospective and existing entrepreneurs in mostly manufacturing enterprises were entitled to various incentives, all of which were phased out by the mid-1990s, and factory closures ensued. Since then the economy of Butterworth has atrophied, leaving thousands unemployed. This paper suggests a community development model as an alternative strategy for resuscitating an ailing local economy, emphasising the imperatives of community participation at all levels of the developmental process. Kenya and Ghana are cited as examples of community development. With this international backdrop, three community-inspired projects in the Eastern Cape were used to test the model: the Umngazi Farming Scheme, the Philani Ncambedlana Farmers' Cooperative and the Tanga Village Masakhane. The paper shows that community development can provide an alternative livelihood in local economies.