Not your Typical Vegetable Kiosk

This is Julius Odhiambo.

He owns a vegetable kibanda and has been using Community Currency called Bangla-Pesa, which is part of the Sarafu-Credit network, outside Mombasa since 2013. Julius is happy with the Bangla-Pesa because he has increased his sales. “I only started with selling 3kgs of tomatoes alone but now I a whole crate of tomatoes in a day, sukuma wiki, cabbages, onions etc. And this is because I both use Bangla-Pesa and many people come to buy from my stall using Banla-pesa”, he says. When Julius realized that he was getting many customers, he decided to take a risk and increase his stock of tomatoes and other vegetables too since he was making good profit. “I have also become a supplier of vegetables in 5 of the restaurants around here because they top up their payments in Bangla-pesa which they receive from their customers,” he adds. Julius uses Bangla-Pesa Credit to buy his lunch and food for his family. He also buys water, charcoal and gets his shoes repaired using the Bangla-Pesa.

By enabling Julius and a network of businesses and schools to issue a circulating private credit (community currency) as a voucher for their goods and services the local economy's velocity of money increases, because it no longer depends on scarce and seasonal National Currency - but rather purely on productive capacity. A zero interest Sarafu-Credit line is issued to members of business networks based on their productive capacity as well as cooperative assets. In the Bangla-Pesa network the members co-own a local wholesale shop which provides collateral backing for the Bangla-Pesa, so that if Julius has too much Bangla-Pesa to use, he is guaranteed to be able to exchange it for the wholesale products and profits from the cooperative.

This system creates an interest free source of credit and market stability for the businesses of an community of over 20,000 people. Grassroots Economics is currently working with over 1,000 businesses in Kenya and hoping to spread access to these programs to marginalized communities across Kenya over the next few years.