Update from Kangemi-Pesa Nairobi

It has been only 2 months since the members of Kangemi Business Network launched their community currency and received their 400 Kangemi-Pesa (~$4USD) thanks in large part to Nyendo-lernen schools program. Since then, regular monitoring has been conducted under the supervision of the local committee (Kangemi Business Network) and the feedback collected from the users are very promising.

Indeed, thanks to the regular training given by the volunteers and the local committee, it didn’t take long for the members to understand its functioning and start using it. The first general meeting organized few weeks ago also permitted them to meet each other and form trading circles according to their location.

The typical member of the network is a small business selling products or services answering the daily needs of the community (Food, Education, charcoal, groceries…). He/she is using between 50 to 100 Kangemi-Pesa (0.5-1$) a day with 2 to 5 other members.

The Kangemi-Pesa seems to be here to stay and already supporting the growth of the local economy.

One of the members is producing flippers (sandals) made from used tires. This kind of flipper is locally produced and made from recycled trash, highly resistant and adapted to the muddy roads of the slums. He receives and spend on a daily basis an average of 100 Kangemi-Pesa (1$).

“Kangemi Pesa is very good, when I don’t have money and have Kangemi pesa it’s like if I have real money in my pocket, I can eat there” said another member selling pants on the side of the road speaking about an hotel (little restaurant) nearby. Grace, the owner of the hotel, spends and receives an average of 60 Kangemi Pesa daily and she is very happy about it too. “The members around me buy me Chai (tea) and Chapatis (a kind of pancake) during the day using Kangemi Pesa and I use it in their businesses to buy clothes, water and products for my business, I’m buying sugar and tea leaves from a member down there”.

Moreover, the network is likely to keep growing. After having heard about the success of the currency, some of her costumers, non members have expressed their desire to join the network. “They come and ask if they can pay in Kangemi Pesa to test me and to see if the network is serious before they join”.

But the businesses are not the only ones part of the network. Eight schools in Kangemi are also using Kangemi-Pesa. Members having their kids at these schools can pay part of the tuition and school fees with it. “Six of my parents are members and the Kangemi-Pesa is helping them. They use it to pay for tuition, 10 Kangemi-Pesa. And one of the parent gave me 100 Kangemi-Pesa to pay a part of the school fees” - Elizabeth, a headmaster of a small school and member of the network.

However, even if some of its members already feel the benefits of Kangemi-Pesa, the network is still in its stabilizing stage and some of the members don’t know where are located the others or are more isolated weakening the circulation of the currency; but the committee is busy working on solutions to these issues.

A business directory is currently being created and will be given to each member, allowing him/her to know where are located the others and what they are selling. Additionally, a community clean up will take place this Saturday. This event among other things will raise awareness among the community about the currency and should make other businesses to join us in this exciting adventure!

About the author - Robin Gerbaux is studying International Development Studies as a graduate student at the Université Joseph Fourier, in Grenoble, France. He has been investigating community currencies while living in Nairobi.

Many thanks to our partners Nyendo-lernen and Lush Cosmetics for making this a reality.