Community Vouchers to Community Currencies

Tags: voucher, business, group, chama, kitui


When I think of vouchers normally used in Kenya, I think of Naivas gift vouchers, bus tickets, petrol station vouchers that are normally created by the issuer and later accepted back for committed goods and services. Businesses create vouchers for customer loyalty and gift cards. Some businesses sell their vouchers (like bus tickets) as their main mode of business.

To create more sustainable economies, Community Groups (business networks) can also create their own group vouchers which are redeemed as payment for the group’s own goods and services. This requires individuals in these groups to commit a value of goods and services that they will willingly sell using vouchers. The group members can trade freely with each other and also offer to sell these vouchers outside their group for cash or in-kind.

The sales or acceptance in-kind of the vouchers outside the group by the greater community will depend on the quality of goods and services the group of voucher issuers offers. When a group wants to create their own vouchers on the Sarafu Network, Community leaders will take part as the witnesses endorsing the capability of each member of the group.

Vouchers generally expire. Group vouchers on Sarafu Network, as well, expire gradually over time. These expired vouchers are automatically deposited into a community fund (one of the accounts chosen by the members). Once collected the vouchers can be redistributed again. Redistribution can be through giving loans to members so that they can be able to meet their daily needs, funding community projects, paying for casual labor if the group has a community farm, paying for services needed by the group or they can decide to share amongst themselves.

Community Vouchers in Practice

Bondeni chama, in Mutitu Ward is one of the groups that will be making their own vouchers called ‘Bonde’ redeemable as payment for goods and services offered by the members. One Bonde will be worth one egg (market value is roughly 10 Kenyan Shillings) or equivalent goods or services.


For example, Bonde can be redeemed as well for water, chicken, vegetables, grains, maize and green grams. The group has a total of 20 members (2 male and 18 female) who have committed different goods and services worth 5000 Bondes. Each member commits to offer goods or services worth 250 vouchers. It is also a requirement for the group to have a witness which in most cases it's the local leader who testifies that whatever the group members have committed he/she will be able to deliver. People outside the group can accept the vouchers for their own services, knowing that they can redeem them with the group for their goods and services. People can also buy the vouchers, often at a discount or accept them for a portion of a payment.

The Bonde vouchers expire over time via a holding tax which will accrue to 2% per month. This amount is sent back automatically to the group’s community account and later used to pay for members working in their agroforestry farms. The workers will in turn be able to buy the produce from the farm using the Bonde voucher, leading to a complete cycle of how their Bonde voucher will circulate from production to consumption and support local food security. Generally community members will over time start to accept the vouchers more and more and the voucher becomes a general purpose medium of exchange (Community Inclusion Currency)


For more information on Voucher Creation visit our documentation.