While still in it initial stages, our work builds on a rich history of community programs in Africa. We have implemented community currency programs in 6 locations across Kenya and assisted with 2 in South Africa and helped more than 1,000 small businesses and 20 schools take an active role in their own economy and development. For current events visit our blog.
So far this year we have are working to develop 2 Cooperatives using Community Currency to span Nairobi and Mombasa Counties.
2016 was our second year as Grassroots Economics Foundation (GE), which grew from a community based organization. Our focus is on Community Currencies (CCs) as a tool for sustainable development. GE assess production and trade potential in communities and facilitates the formalization of extra-legal debt structures and assets into a liquid medium of exchange, which we call a Community Currency. Beginning in 2016 we've also begun to help communities form cooperatives and develop local import-replacing businesses.
Operating on a largely volunteer staff and pilot funding has allowed us to roughly double the beneficiaries and trade volume of our (5) CC programs in Nairobi and Mombasa. Based on over 2,000 surveys done in 2016, 1,078 members are accepting 27.6% of their goods and services in Community Currency (Sarafu-Credit) with no loss to Kenyan Shillings. Each member is using on average 0.23 EUR daily in Sarafu-Credit. This is the equivalent of 103,684 EUR per year. This usage of Community Currency represents more than a 20% increase to sales in these businesses. Over 90% of users are very satisfied with Sarafu-Credit and want to keep using it.
- Credit Clearing – All (5) CCs in Kenya have merged under a common umbrella called Sarafu-Credit (Exchange-Credit), which allows members to exchange excess Community Currency for Kenyan Shillings.
- Supermarkets – (5) Supermarkets have been created and act as a source of collateral for credit clearing as well as a hub for business networks.
- Mobile Phone Trading – Testing on the Cyclos Mobile App looks promissing and we hope to roll out in yearly 2017, also with leasing smart phones to members.
- Cooperative (SACCO) Development – The initial stages to develop 2 county wide cooperates has begun.
- Awards and Conferences – Ruth Mwangi one of our directors was accepted as a Mandela-Washington Fellow and has had multiple speaking oppertunities worldwide. Caroline Dama another director has given talks in both Canada and Malaysia this year.
- Media – Documentary on CANVAS featuring GE's founder Will Ruddick aired across Belgium and Netherlands.
- Partnerships – STRO, Nyendo, Universities, DOEN, LUSH, Green World Campaign, CBS Uganda
This year we've reached 5 Community Currencies active in Kenya. The community groups are active in CC market days, networking events, community service work and savings and loan programs. We're really looking forward to these networks continuing to expand their potential in 2016.
- April - the Kangemi-Pesa was launched in the Kangemi informal settlement with 5 schools and over 100 SMEs.
- May - the Bergrivier Rand (Brand) in South Africa launched. (GE assisted program)
- July - the K'Mali in Kokstad, South Africa launched. (GE assisted program)
- August - the Lindi-Pesa in Kibera, Nairobi launched.
- September - the Ng'ombeni-Pesa in Mikindani, Mombasa launched.
GE was invited us to meet with and eventually implement a Community Currency program with schools in Nairobi slums. The Gatina-Pesa in Kawangware Nairobi, was the first to launch and first to replicate the Bangla-Pesa model with SMEs and three schools. GE also began assisting the in the training and implementation of two currencies in South Africa.
After the launch of Bangla-Pesa and subsequent success of helping improve local markets the program brought on the attention from Kenyan authorities who initially claimed the program was illegal. After a long court battle the program was deemed legal and with the cooperation of local Ministers of Parliament as well as police we were assisted to reopen the Bangla-Pesa program.
In order to increase the longevity of community currency programs we moved to a Mutual-Credit backing and developed the Bangla-Pesa model together with community members, in which SMEs are able to issue and back their own currency using their own goods and services - removing the need for donor backing. The Bangla-Pesa program was initiated in November 2012.
The Eco-Pesa pilot program launched as a backed currency model with 75 Businesses taking part in three informal settlements near Kongowea, Mombasa. The currency was backed by donor funds and accomplished some amazing community service and environmental goals while increasing local trade for a year period.