2022 Recap

Tags: end year, report, partners, progress


This year has been amazing – Rising up out of extreme challenges in 2020 and 2021 - we got our software, legal and implementation streamlined and seeing Community Inclusion Currencies (CICs) rapidly growing.

In April we got up and running on Kitabu-Blockchain – and are currently preparing for a long term migration to Celo next year. Largley through the support of the Interchain Foundation, after 520 code commits and 58,368 lines of code, our open source repos (among other things like dashboards) enable people without internet to access a blockchain and create and trade credit obligations (vouchers/CICs). User interact with their accounts via a USSD system (similar to SMS) and this year we’ve seen 204,598 USSD sessions! These sessions include, balance checks, changing pins, setting names, making transactions and so on.

Using this technology as well as legal and implementation frameworks, we’ve helped marginalized communities launch 61 unique CICs since April – among 5,221 users who traded 66,291 times a volume of 62,000 USD worth of vouchers between each other for traditional practices, mutual support, commerce and financing. These 61 CICs were issued primarily by women’s savings groups, but also churches, queer communities, village elders, youth groups and farmers associations. While we have an amazing admin, tech and field team at Grassroots Economics that are really all pioneering Grassroots Economists - we did not accomplished this alone!

image Above you can see the number of daily transaction across Kenya, SA and Cameroon. I’m really proud of how the tech, legal and implementation system have been improved and utilized by some amazing partners:

Koornzaayer Foundation – LGBTQIA+ Economies of Support – Malindi

Focusing on queer communities has been a pleasure. Seeing a group of people able to identify their offerings to society in goods and services – where they had once been ostrasied, makes me extremely proud. Seeing the Malindi Desire Initiative voucher integrated with the Kirepwe community through HIV testing and education outreach work, in addition to having them accept MDIs for boat rides, food, and church offerings has been transformational.

Food Movement – Kilifi

This has been our first non-chama based social enterprise to develop their own voucher. We’re grateful they took the leap and are starting to strengthen their Green Heart of Kenya community by selling, giving, trading their FOMO voucher.

Kenya Red Cross - Refugees and IDPs

Bringing the concept of CICs to refugees and IDPs around Kenya. This is our third program with Kenya Red Cross’s innovation team and we’re really moved far together – developing a program quality toolkit that shapes our programs to date. Learnings from our partnership with Kenya Red Cross have convinced us to close any form of airdropping foreign tokens - and simply focus on community groups creating their own vouchers.

World Food Program – Kitui RCT

With 40 villages in Kitui together with WFP, we've been testing different interventions with the communities while recording both Kenyan Shillings and CIC digital spending. We are seeing clearly the difference between groups that use CIC creating a trade multiplier compared to groups that only use Kenyan Shillings. We will have a study published with the help of several researchers out early next year!

Innovation Norway, Danish/Norwegian Red Cross Societies and GIZ – Cameroon

Cameroon has been the first country outside Kenya to utilize the USSD technology. Getting this tech working with local telecoms wasn’t easy and we are still in the process of early testing. The stability and cost of USSD continues to be a major challenge for expansion – we are excited about moving to Celo and also being able to use Telegram, as well as Native apps as wallets as well soon.

iNethi – South Africa and Kilifi Mesh Network – CIC integration

South Africa was the 2nd country where our USSD system has been utilized. In Kenya and Kilifi we developed a system that would give access to a local mesh network along with internet to people with vouchers. The vouchers then are distributed out to the mesh network (router) node operators. Really happy to be working with the iNethi team and seeing them take the concept to their home in Ocean View SA.

Mustard Seed Trust – Syntropic Agroforestry

Together with Mustard Seed Trust we worked really hard to learn and test out Syntropic Agroforestry across over 50 sites in Kenya – combined with CIC as a way to fund collective regenerative farming. This work serves as a basis for how we support food system capacity building in rural communities.

OneProject – Traditional wisdom and movement building

While we’ve developed a framework around Economic Commons utilizing CICs as a collective instrument – One Project has encouraged us to look more holistically across many types of community resources: governance, social, human, physical, natural and economic. Together we’ve been learning from local traditional wisdom on the same and working to find more voice for indigenous people and ancient practices. We are looking forward to putting these concept into practice in 2023 as we co-design a next generation of Integral Commons.

Want to get involved?

  1. Encourage people to create their own vouchers in Kenya, Cameroon or Sourth Africa
  2. Join us to discuss, research, code and chat.
  3. Support our work! - This helps us pay for our non-profit staff, technology and research.