The Bangla-Pesa, a complementary currency created and backed by a local business network, offers a glimpse of true sustainable development. After only a week of circulation, Bangla-Pesa was able to help community members tap into an estimated 22% increase in their sales through excess-capacity trading. This is a substantial increase in a community of people living in extreme poverty. We hope to see this program continue to benefit the people of Bangladesh, who have devoted their efforts in its formation.
A network of mico-enterprises coming together to co-own and create their own complementary currency could be considered the next step bringing together cooperatives and micro-finance. While positive results in a short time make complementary currencies like Bangla-Pesa an appealing sustainable development solution in poverty-stricken areas, we also have an immediate need for international support to promote legislation and understanding at national and central banking levels.
Sadly, because of a misunderstanding by local authorities, community members Alfred Sigo, Emma Onyango, Rose Oloo, Paul Omolo, Carolin Dama and Will Ruddick were jailed on suspicion that they were part of a secessionist terrorist group (nothing could be farther from the truth). After this was found to not be the case, and seeing no other reason to keep them in jail, the group of six (including two mothers, a grandmother, and a grandfather) were charged by the Central Bank of Kenya, with forgery for holding a printed voucher. This charge is baseless, and they in fact have a printing receipt from Kenya's top printer (Punchlines Ltd.). They are now out of jail on bail and awaiting trial.
Since this disruptive reaction from local authorities, there has been an outpouring of support. Please keep it coming! Without it, this matter could get stuck in court for years and deny Bangladesh businesses a tool that business networks worldwide use.
Thanks so much to all our supporters! And we hope very much that the community of Bangladesh continues to be supported. Click here if you can help us raise legal fees to keep these six people out of jail.
For an understanding of Bangladesh and informal settlements read this piece by Father Gabriel Dolan.