We do regular monitoring and evaluation on the impact of our programs and collaborate with researchers from around the world. Data is collected through digital (blockchain-based) transaction data, journals and surveys of people using and not using Community Inclusion Currencies.

Research Questions

  • Design
    • What do communities need to unlock and direct their collective capacity?
      • What does a post scarcity society look like?
      • How can variations on currency design support community abundance and harmony with their environment and other communities?
      • How can traditional practices support mutual aid?
      • Ideology and ethics - Why develop a community currency? (For each part of the infrastructure and various implementers.)
  • Development
    • How can community currencies and their infrastructure be developed and managed?
    • How are communities fully empowered and sovereign in their choices?
    • What regulatory frameworks can be used?
    • How to achieve institutional integration - Humanitarian orgs, chamas (community groups), schools, shops, govt. Financial Institution, Faith based organizations, etc
    • Network visualization and analytics that help understand, react to and manage CIC systems
      • Predictive and Agent based modelling
    • How can people and institutions outside of a community interact with the local community? Aid distribution - redistribute taxes? (voting, algo, etc) ... Also in what medium: Capacity building, in-kind, cash, stable tokens, etc
  • Understanding:
    • What are the impacts from pilots and trials? - short and long term effects of such programs like Sarafu Network.
    • What characteristics cause community currencies of different designs and communities to have different impacts?

CIC - Research Findings Expert Opinions on the future of Community Inclusion Currencies (CICs)

Compiled and edited with the help of OCTOPI (2022)


Community Inclusion Currencies (CICs) have been piloted as alternative financial systems, studied and adapted into various contexts but haven’t yet been fully adopted into larger-scale institutions or state application. They have been designed as a financial instrument to support the development of circular local economies in marginalised communities, but have the potential for implementation in a wide variety of settings. This research paper sought out experts in various fields to point out potential solutions and risks to adoption and scale within potential implementation opportunity areas.

Complex Systems Modeling of Community Inclusion Currencies

Vienna University of Economics and Business

Clark, Andrew and Mihailov, Alexander and Zargham, Michael (2022)


This paper proposes a complex dynamic system subpopulation model for the construction and validation of a novel form of local complementary currency, namely the Grassroots Economics Foundation’s Community Inclusion Currency (CIC) implemented recently in Kenya. First, we highlight that CICs can act as a local liquidity-provision institutional device in poor or isolated economic regions, thereby serving as a market-based mechanism to alleviate poverty. Second, we elicit 50 heterogeneous utility types according to observed transactions behavior in our rich data set, i.e., via revealed – and recorded – preferences, and build a corresponding model and simulation at a meso-economic level.

Sarafu Community Inclusion Currency 2020–2021

Scientific Data - Data Decriptor

Carolina E. S. Mattsson, Teodoro Criscione & William O. Ruddick


We describe a dataset of account information and detailed transaction records for a digital complementary currency in Kenya. This “Sarafu system” initially encompassed several local, physical community currencies, which began transitioning to a feature-phone mobile interface in 2017. One unit of “Sarafu” is roughly equivalent in value to a Kenyan shilling. The published data includes anonymized account information for around 55,000 users and records of all Sarafu transactions conducted from January 25, 2020 to June 15, 2021. Transactions totaling around 300 million Sarafu capture various economic and financial activities such as purchases, transfers, and participation in savings and lending groups. So-called “chamas” are key to the operation of the Sarafu system and many such groups are labeled in the data. Describing this data contributes to research on the operation of community currencies, monetary systems, and economic networks in marginalized, food insecure areas. The observation period includes the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic and several documented pilot projects and interventions.

Complementary Currencies for Humanitarian Aid 2021

by Leanne Ussher, Laura Ebert, Georgina M. Gómez, William O. Ruddick


The humanitarian sector has gone through a major shift toward injection of cash into vulnerable communities as its core modality. On this trajectory toward direct currency injection, something new has happened: namely the empowerment of communities to create their own local currencies, a tool known as Complementary Currency systems. This study mobilizes the concepts of endogenous regional development, import substitution and local market linkages as elaborated by Albert Hirschman and Jane Jacobs, to analyze the impact of a group of Complementary Currencies instituted by Grassroots Economics Foundation and the Red Cross in Kenya. The paper discusses humanitarian Cash and Voucher Assistance programs and compares them to a Complementary Currency system using Grassroots Economics as a case study. Transaction histories recorded on a blockchain and network visualizations show the ability of these Complementary Currencies to create diverse production capacity, dense local supply chains, and data for measuring the impact of humanitarian currency transfers. Since Complementary Currency systems prioritize both cooperation and localization, the paper argues that Complementary Currencies should become one of the tools in the Cash and Voucher Assistance toolbox.

Community Currencies as Crisis Response 2022

Results from a Randomized Control Trial in Kenya

Rebecca Mqamelo


This paper presents the results of what may be the world’s first randomized control trial on community currencies, focusing on Grassroots Economics Community Inclusion Currency (CIC) model run on the xDAI blockchain. Beneficiaries in Nairobi, Kenya were sent the equivalent of $30 in cryptocurrency tokens, enabling a level of impact evaluation usually unfeasible for most cash and mobile-money based transfer programs. Results show that CIC transfers of $30 are associated with $93.51 increase in beneficiaries wallet balance, a $23.17 increase in monthly CIC income, a $16.30 increase in monthly CIC spending, a $6.31 increase in average trade size and a $28.43 increase in expenditure on food and water. However, the difference in treatment effects for males versus females suggests gender imbalances persist. This study serves as an important prototype for novel cash transfer models and presents some of the first quantitative evidence in the area of “crypto for good.”

Sarafu - User Phone Survey and Analysis 2021

60 Decibels


325 Sarafu users in Kenya were sampled out of Frequent, Infrequent and non-trading registered. The survey and analysis found, among many things, that 44% of users were using Sarafu to buy household items and 41% used Sarafu specifically to access food. Strikingly the study found that 99% of users had no alternative to an alternative to Sarafu for trading with others when national currency was scarce.

Sarafu - CIC 2020-2021 Data Published

Anonymous transaction and meta data on Sarafu usage

William O. Ruddick

Criscone, Teodoro

Mattsson, C.E.S


We describe a dataset of account information and transaction records for a digital community currency in Kenya. One unit of “Sarafu” is roughly equivalent in value to a Kenyan shilling. The Sarafu system has existed since 2010 and began operating digitally via USSD feature-code cellular technology in 2017. This dataset includes pseudonymized account information for around 55,000 users and records of all Sarafu transactions conducted from 25/01/2020 to 15/06/2021. User transactions capture various economic and financial activities such as purchases, transfers, and participation in savings and lending groups. So-called "chamas" are key to the operation of the Sarafu system and clearly labeled in the data. This dataset will contribute to research on the operation of community currencies, monetary systems, and economic networks in underdeveloped areas. The observation period includes the first year of the coronavirus pandemic and several documented pilot projects and development interventions.

Red Cross Mukuru Kayaba Rapid Survey Analysis May 2020

CIC: Mukuru Kayaba Rapid Survey Analysis - brief.

Date of analysis:25th to 30th May 2020
Area of survey: Mukuru Kayaba (Pop. 83,000) (Pop of Sarafu users 4000)
Number of respondent: Female 391, Male 228 Total: 619
Goal: To understand the impact of Sarafu and give qualitative understanding of the statistics for users.

Proof of Impact: Blockchain Community Currencies in Action

Galia Benartzi and Rebecca Mqamelo. 2019.

This working paper looks at how the blockchain-based Sarafu Network addresses liquidity problems commonly associated with community currency systems and provides case studies on how the Sarafu Network has impacted the lives of participants.

A relational analysis of sarafu network: emergence of a monetary ecosystem for the prosperity of the communities

Master Course. University of Torino. Sowelu Elios Avanzo

Economic advantages of community currencies

Seminar Paper. Sarah Zeller

Community currencies are used all over the world, but only sometimes economically ad- vantageous. We introduce liquidity to the debate as a new explanation of success. After developing a working hypothesis, we use two case studies to test it. We find community currencies are only economically advantageous in an environment of insufficient liquidity.

Trade facilitation and community development in the age of blockchain & DLT

The starting point of this report was a research study on behalf of the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH who is a global service provider in the field of international cooperation for sustainable development. The task was to investigate community currency projects in low-resource environments.

DANIDA awarded 9 million DKK for research on Community Currencies

DANIDA (Denmark's development cooperation, an area of activity under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark) recently awarded 8,9 millions DKK for the project Community Currencies: Grassroots Financial Innovations for Inclusive Economic Growth to professor Ester Barinaga, MPP and Lund University. During the coming 4 years, the project is to look at the governance practices, impact and diffusion strategies of the Kenyan community currencies in Mombasa and Nairobi, as well as to introduce three community currencies in Kisumu.

Voucher Systems for Food Security A Case Study on Kenya’s Sarafu-Credit

Marion Cauvet. 2018
M.Sc. Agricultural Development, University of Copenhagen

Community Currency Programmes as a Tool for the Sustainable Development of Informal Settlements: The Case of Mombasa and Nairobi County, Kenya

Daan Sillen. 2017
M.Sc. Public Policy and Human Development United Nations University and Maastritcht University.

The case of Sarafu-credits: Examining how a community currency can contribute to sustainable livelihood in informal settlements

Hannes Anagrius. 2017
M.Sc in resilience and sustainability science at Stockholm Resilience Centre in Sweden.

Community Currencies in a Development Context, The case of the Sarafu-Credit in Kenya

Thibaud Dezyn 2017
Masters in Cultural Anthropology, University of Leuven, Belgium.

Challenges of Collective Organization and Institution Building around Community Currencies in Kenyan Slums

Dissaux, T., Ruddick, W. 2017
Paper prepared for the 4th International Conference on Social and Complementary Currencies in Barcelona, Spain.

The Role of Complementary Currency in Promoting Business Growth in an Informal Economy: Case of Bangla-Pesa

Roselyne M. Omanga. 2016
Masters of Executive Business Administration, Strathmore University, Kenya.

Relationship between Community Currencies and Nutritional Intake of Household in Kibera Kenya

Sharlene Mbula Mule. 2016
Degree of Bachelor in Science in Food Nutrition and Dietetics. University of Nairobi.

Trust and Spending of Community Currencies in Kenya

Ruddick, W. 2015
Paper prepared for the 3rd International Conference on Social and Complementary Currencies in Salvador, Brazil.

Re-imagining Money to Broaden the Future of Development Finance: What Kenyan Community Currencies Reveal is Possible for Financing Development

Bendell, J., Slater, M., Ruddick, W. 2015
United Nations Research Institute for Social Development Working Paper 2015-10.

Complementary Currencies for Sustainable Development in Kenya: the Case of the Bangla-Pesa

Ruddick, W., Richards, M., Bendell, J. 2015.
International Journal of Community Currency Research.

Eco-Pesa: an Evaluation of a Complementary Currency Programme in Kenya's Informal Settlements

Ruddick, W., 2011
International Journal of Complementary Currencies.

Complementary Currencies Strengthening the Social and Solidarity Economy: Case Studies from Kenya

Ruddick, W., Mariani, L. 2013
United Nations Research Institute for Social Development Working Paper.

Kenyan Businesswomen Transforming Slum Economies through Complementary Currencies

Richards, M., Ruddick, W. 2013
United Nations Research Institute for Social Development.