Today's launch of Bangla-Pesa was a great start to an empowering community process! 137 local business owners attended. Of the 137 local business owners that attended, 56 members completed their registration and backing process and created 400 credits each. At least 150 pending registrations will be completed in the next week.
Prior to the launch, members of the business network processed through Bangladesh, led in song by the Bangladesh Business Network (BBN) Committee, and following the Bangla-Pesa basket, which was escorted by local security officials.
During the launch, the Alpha and Omega youth group performed a drama detailing the uses of Bangla-Pesa and debunking community concerns about this relatively novel approach to community development. The dramas left people laughing, clapping, and better informed. Afterwards Will Ruddick presented the some results of the baseline data collection, helping members of the Bangla Business Network understand the size, seasonal and weekly fluctuations, and gender inequalities in the economy. Members also listened to speeches by the Committee Chairman and Josephat Kioko, who talked about the benefits of a Eco-Pesa, the predecessor to Bangla-Pesa used in Kongowea, Kenya. Then, the Bangladesh Businesses Network's constitution was read and discussed in detail. Members of the Network asked pointed questions about issues like voting rules, tribal equity in leadership, clearly communicating their understanding and investment in the Network.
Finally, members possessing completed registration forms, with 4 co-signers and the approval of the BBN's committee, received 400 Bangla-Pesa and a marketing sticker for their shops. 200 Bangla-Pesa was returned by each member as their registration fee. This registration fee will go toward community activities such as trash collection and health care, after an initial three month period to first strengthen the network's use of Bangla-Pesa.
The meeting ended with a hearty meal and a strong commitment to and excitement about using Bangla-Pesa. Koru-Kenya's monitoring and evaluation team, led by Morgan Richards, will perform surveys over the next weeks and months to determine the extent of Bangla-Pesa used, any problems that need addressing, and how the community has benefited from the use of Bangla-Pesa. And, in 3 months, the Business Network will have their next General Meeting to discuss further changes to their operating rules.