Community Currencies

Grassroots Economics offers the infrastructure to develop, implement and sustain community currency programs long term, while building local economics and increasing access to health and education.

Small business owners and schools around the world depend on each other for purchasing goods and services to meet their daily needs. During hard economic times, businesses still have goods and services to offer yet lack sufficient means of exchange (i.e., money). To provide this means of exchange, Grassroots Economics works with networks of businesses and schools to create community currencies - a community issued interest-free credit (Sarafu-Credit). Community Currency helps small businesses come together exchange their goods and services, even when they lack enough money due to poverty and economic downturns.

Our Current Community Currencies in Kenya are used by over 1,000 businesses and 20 schools including:

  • Mombasa County
    • Bangla-Pesa in Birikani Mikindani Launched 2013
    • Ng'ombeni-Pesa in Kwa-Ng'ombe Mikindani, Launched 2015
  • Nairobi County
    • Gatina-Pesa in Kawangware, Launched 2014
    • Kangemi-Pesa in Kangemi, Launched 2015
    • Lindi-Pesa in Kibera, Launched 2015

Previous community currency programs include: Eco-Pesa. Read a full history of our programs.

Consulting programs Include: FlowAfrica in Kokstad and Bergrivier, South Africa. Implementation 2014 - Launch 2015 and future programs across Africa are planned.


Building Resilient Economies through import replacement

Effective Community Currency Networks develop income generating cooperative businesses that remove the need for importing goods and services into the community. These businesses flourish within a pre-existing community market and in-turn help build local market stability against volatile external shocks. Cooperative Import Replacing Businesses Include:

  • Supermarkets – Help created hubs for stocking local products
  • Flour Milling – Process local maize and other grains for consumption
  • Oil Pressing – Cold pressing coconut and other seeds to produce a local source of body and cooking oil
  • Community Farms and Food Gardens – Produce food locally using permaculture techniques
  • Local transport – Help buy bicycles, hand-carts and motorized transport for local residents
  • Local clinics - Offer needed services to people in the community
  • Nursery and after-school services - Offer children a safe place to grow and learn
  • Cooperative resource management - Such as grazing lands, water reserves and fuel wood forests can be managed and maintained using community currency.


Enabling Education

Community Currency helps ensure children are getting an education by allowing parents to use their goods and services to pay for school fees. Community currency is used to pay for tuition costs and in turn goes to teachers’ salaries then out into the community for goods and services and then back to the schools again in a virtuous cycle. We work with over 20 low-income schools in Kibera, Kangemi, Kawangware, and Mikindani Mombasa and over 400 parents.


Communities receive more sponsorship

When trying to support people that need it most at least 50% of sponsors and government funds can go missing due to rampant corruption and embezzlement. Converting those funds instead to Community Currency, ensures that the community of beneficiaries will be the only people who can spend those funds. Besides the Community Currency being offered as a zero interest credit to local businesses, sponsor funds are held in reserve as community currency is issued to students, elders and clinics, where they can be then spent in a network of hundred of shops and schools. At the end of each month participating businesses can return a portion of the community currency for donated funds in National Currency. This increases local trade and helps support the local community.


Investment Opportunities – in Community Currency Networks

Businesses developed within Community Currency networks are more likely to succeed and provide a return to investors. This is an excellent way for people wishing to support these programs that must see a return on investment.