How To - Developing a Community Currency

A currency is something that can bring a community together and also something that can break it apart. A currency can be a beautiful circulatory system enabling trade and human connection, it can also act like a jail, promoting greed and scarcity. The standards under which a community currency is developed and maintained are the difference between these two realities. We urge groups interested in implementing a currency program to consider professional consultation at all stages of project development. The steps below are only a rough framework to give one an idea of what is involved and are based on implementations in Kenya since 2010.

  1. Understand the benefits and challenges in developing a community currency. Visit an existing community currency program to see how they work and have a trainer visit your group. Read the FAQ., Read the Standards for Community Currencies. Important from the onset is determining costs (in-kind and in your national currency) based on community size and type of implementation (digital, paper or both). Consider costs of legalization, educating local stakeholders and government, mobilizing members, public awareness, advertising, launching, printing, software, hardware, maintenance, upkeep and audits.
  2. Organize an interim committee to represent the business community of your location with the capacity to lead the development of the currency. Draw on the full diversity of the community, including local schools, government and as many local goods and services providers as possible. Community Currencies are built on a network of people - ideally one that is already there in some form.
  3. Develop a constitution to define statues and operating rules of the Trading Network, including usage of a community fund in the currency. Contact Grassroots Economics for an appropriate example.
  4. Register the Trade or Business Network with an appropriate local government registrar, such as those pertaining to Community Based Organizations. Opening a group account at a local credit union or bank is a good start, as it will help to manage funds in the national currency.
  5. Quantify production levels of the community and members in order to issue community currency. This involves an 3rd party initial community production audit and will determine starting credit levels.
  6. Design the community currency – slogans, messaging and artwork to represent the community, environment, economy and education system of the area. After a community audit and verification of members a publicly announced amount of community currency will be security printed by a 3rd party. See example.
  7. Grow membership by having each new member guaranteed by four other members for a starting amount of credit. Verify these members are local prosumers. Build to a critical mass of at least 100 initial members in the area.
  1. Publicly launch the program and advertise/market the usage of the currency. Issue the starting amount of credit to members and collect the community fund amount in the community currency. It is important to be together with local government and as many public and private institutions as possible.
  2. Start community service work using the community currency. This can employ locals for social service work including trash collection, health and environmental services.
  3. Quarterly Audit that the amount of community currency in circulation does not exceed local production levels. This involves a 3rd party community currency audit that reports to the local government registrar.
  4. Annually collect membership fees in the community currency in order to refill the community fund for social service work. The currency expires each year and is renewed by payment to the Trade Network's committee. Fees in national currency for printing and administration may also be needed.
  5. Incubate and build cooperative business programs within the trade network. Use the trade network to facilitate community programs to further reduce unemployment and increase local trade.
  6. Network with other community currency programs in the region in order to trade community currencies between currencies.