This morning at a session on currencies and value I got re-introduced to community currencies. Two years ago there was a mini-storm about the legality of a currency called Bangla-pesa that has since quietened down.
There are five Kenyan community currencies that circulate mainly in slum areas of Nairobi and Mombasa.
The paper notes are by the Grassroots Economic Foundation. They are not backed by local currency but have the same value as Kenya shilling notes. Member of groups which have constitutions and rules before they join, each gets currency worth 400. They actually only get 200, and 200 from each member goes to a community fund – to carry out community projects such as trash cleaning and hosting sports events.
The lesson today showed how hawala, bitcoin, and M-pesa had different applications in communities, with a focus on uses away from the formal sector. Also that 10 years after formal financial inclusion, there is still a lot of money being handled through informal sectors.