31 Currencies - Mid-year 2022 Report

Tags: equity, Bangla-Pesa, refugee, Kitui, Kenya, Kakuma, WFP, launch, training

Having left behind our year of Sarafu (as the only digital voucher we had in operation) we have blossomed forth into enabling 31 communities so far to create their own – which act as Community Inclusion Currencies (CICs). There are now 31 new Vouchers across Kenya and a backlog of another 60 to go, which will commence after the election periods in Kenya. Since May (roughly 3 months) we’ve seen 20,481 user to user transactions with a trade volume of 3,746,594 Kenyan Shillings using 31 different Vouchers (CICs) in communities across Kenya including Bangladesh (Bangla-Pesa), Kakuma, Kitui, Kwale and Nairobi.

image Here you are see the voucher symbols and the Unit of Account of CICs in Kwale – South Cost, Kitui, Central, Nairobi, and Kakuma Refugee Camp. Note that each voucher has roughly the same market rate of 10 Kenyan shillings and is redeemable among groups of issuers. For a break down of how we work with community groups visit our voucher creation docs.

image The above shows a clear increase of usage since we began to enable communities to create their own Vouchers. You can look at individial vouchers on our dashboard

image Here you can see trades in each voucher across Kenya colored by their different tokens. It’s interactive! Check out the visualization yourself!

Example Use Case

Lifting Livelihoods in Kitui – by Janet Akinyi Otieno

14 groups in Kitui East Constituency in Kitui County are among the groups that have worked with the World Food Programme and Grassroots Economics Foundation to develop their own reslient local economy. After creating their vouchers based on units of account that they found important like eggs and onions, the groups sold a portion of their vouchers to donors that work with village elders to redistribute them to needy people in the community.

Several vulnerable households have benefited from this project as they were able to use the vouchers distributed to them by the community representatives to buy the pre-ordered goods and services from the 14 chamas. Talking to one of the chiefs in Kitui, he has this to say, “I’m not just happy but I’m satisfied with the project and its outcome. Whoever came up with this idea and everyone else that was involved in making our dreams come true as a community, may the Lord bless them. I have never seen my community members so empowered and enthusiastic as they are now. I love the fact that the vouchers are here to complement the use of national currency that is scarce. This will bring unity in my community as they are always looking forward to supporting each other using the same.”

image Above Area Chief and community groups

The members of these groups are delighted to have their own vouchers. They have owned them and are currently buying and selling to each other using the same. This has improved the local economy as members cite an increase in their business turnover when using the vouchers as compared to when they only relied on the national currency.

Talking to Elizabeth Kavutha, an member of Baraka Group in Zombe, this is what she had to say, “I thank Grassroots Economics Foundation for the support they have given us in creating our own vouchers. So many members of my community would go hungry or have one meal a day because of the hardship that we go through. Now that we have our vouchers, things have been easy as we can exchange our goods and services using our vouchers. This is a support that is long term and we are looking forward to expanding our networks by registering more members to our network.”

Baraka group’s introduction and use of their Baraka vouchers has created a multiplier effect in the groups around them. They have since registered members of Upendo Group, another group in Zombe who are currently using the Baraka vouchers to buy and sell to each other. Upendo group members are excited about the vouchers and are looking forward to also creating their own.

image Above: Baraka Group going through training on how to fill financial journals.

We also came across Francis in Zombe, Kitui. Francis was so happy about the impact we are creating in his community. Francis’ mother is a member of a group in Voo town. He stated that his mother can now get basic needs met easily and she no longer has to go through debt stress (economic trauma) as she can easily exchange her goods and services with her network using their voucher. Francis joined us in one of our field visits and is hoping to join Grassroots Economics Foundation as a Grassroots Economist to help in creating more impacts in Kitui and other communities in Kenya.

We have since seen a tremendous increase in trades in all the 14 groups and this is credited to chama members owning the vouchers and sharing their abundance as a group and externally to their communities at large.

Current Group Performances

The use of vouchers has also restored trust in groups that had fallen off due to group dynamics and differences like Umisyo in Endau chama where members have been pulled back together through the support that they get from using their vouchers together.

We had a few groups like Umisyo, Mumo and Great Vision that took a long time to master the use of the digital system (USSD) or lagged behind due to lack of trust and weekly meetups. The field team therefore introduced an exchange programme where top performing groups visited the struggling ones to share their best practices which included:

  • Use of vouchers on a daily basis.
  • Having weekly market days where they trade in their goods and services using their vouchers.
  • Settlement of voucher balances. Helping those with high balances reduce them and those with low balances increase them.
  • Working with community outside the issuing group to accept and trade their vouchers as a medium of exchange.

They have explained and trained other members of their community on CIC usage and have registered at least 5 new users per person therefore expanding their networks. They’ve owned the project and take it seriously. This has led to a great improvement in the groups that were lagging behind and they've since improved their local market stability. The groups also received training on filling financial journals and Regenerative Agriculture.

Other Countries

We have communities starting in South Africa – integrated with the iNethi mesh-network system developed by David Johnson – as well as Cameroon together with the GIZ OurVillage and Red Cross (Innovation Norway) programs. We're also working on a Android and iPhone application that will enable people around the world to use the system.

GE Commons Equity

CICs are a form of collective organization (aka DAO), where a group creates an Economic Commons and pool legal commitments toward shared services using a CIC as an access token (Voucher) - while also getting voting rights on the usage of common pools (filled with Gessel taxes). We are also developing a special equity instrument that is approporate for divestment & covestment into commons using national currencies based instruments. This is very exciting as a way to bridge the worlds of commodity and trust based economies.

Curriculum development

While we’ve started to fill-out our documentation site, we’re developing and compiling a certification course together with Mustard Seed Trust, URDT/ARU and Alison Malisa - that people around the world can take to become Grassroots Economists.

Watch this space!!!!