Bangla-Pesa Survey Results February 2014

Bangla-Pesa Follow-up Survey - February 2014 Results Two months since our re-launch in late November. Bangla-Pesa Re-IntroducedResilience and ingenuity are trademarks of impoverished communities here in Kenya. When we first introduced Bangla-Pesa it had a few ups and downs, but now it is being used in ways we had never imagined. We recently completed a follow-up survey asking members of the business network who are using Bangla-Pesa about how they are spending it, how they are making sales with it, and how it is impacting their business. The survey data back up the apparent success of case studies like that of Marciana.

What Bangla-Pesa is Doing?

Currently 123 surveyed businesses conduct on average 7% of their daily trades using Bangla-Pesa. Assuming these sales would not have occurred without the voucher, we can call this a 7% increase in local sales revenue. And, given that members have actually experienced an overall increase in sales revenue in Kenyan shillings compared to baseline data**, we believe these sales in Bangla-Pesa are “new” trades due to the program's ability to utilize excess capacity. Further, overall trade for businesses in the network has increased on average by an astonishing 83% compared to baseline data**. While we don't claim this increase is solely due to the program, based on interviews, we believe greater liquidity and stability of the market created by the complementary currency has helped tremendously, since this survey period covers one of the worst market seasons of the year. With roughly 9,600 KSH ($111 USD) worth of Bangla-Pesa transacted daily, the increase growth in the local economy can surpass the cost of the program implementation in about 3 months! This survey indicates that Bangla-Pesa not only increases overall trade in the community, but also specifically increases the trade in the national currency (Kenyan Shillings). This indicates that the program has measurable benefits for economic development and could subsides services otherwise provided by county governments. This shows that empowering communities to issue their own means of exchange is a simple and effective tool for reducing poverty and creating market stability by providing a way of trading which can be used even during harsh economic conditions and market stagnation. We will continue monitoring the effects of this program over time to see that these benefits hold true. With more than 2 billion people project to be living in slums by 2030 and over a billion people living in dire poverty now, this affects everyone on the planet. Who’s Using Bangla-Pesa? Bangladesh is a community of roughly 20,000 residents. The business network using Bangla-Pesa has a total of 141 small scale businesses as members. The “typical” network member is a 35 year-old mother who identifies herself as the main provider of 2-3 children. She has never gone to secondary school, and supports her family either by selling cooked food like flatbread, pastries, fried potatoes, or through a stand selling fruits and/or vegetables. She earns around 600ksh ($7 USD) a day. Despite long days minding her shop, she also spends 2-3 hours a day on household chores like cooking, cleaning, and childcare. The market in Bangladesh is extremely volatile, with business reporting their average daily sales revenue varying from 200ksh (~$2 USD) during bad periods to 1200ksh (~$14 USD) during good periods, as shown in the volatility graph.

This fluctuation tells us that businesses could meet a much higher demand for goods and services (as demonstrated

during good times) than they are during bad or even average per

We keep registering businesses! We know there are more than 200 small businesses in Bangladesh which are eligible for inclusion in the network. Given the benefits these initial findings attribute to the Bangla-Pesa, we would like to register all these businesses. Further, just over half of the businesses in the network report that there is not enough Bangla-Pesa in circulation. 200BP per business member is kept in a community fund for social services. The community will begin using these funds for health, sanitation, education, or other services, spending the vouchers into the community and providing more opportunities for businesses to trade, grow, and meet their families’ needs. As positive findings and reports continue to flow out of Bangladesh, we hope to one day replicate this program in other vulnerable informal settlements in the area. We also hope that other communities are inspired to take up their own complementary currency programs in Kenya and beyond. What this means for you:

  • NGOs and International Aid Organizations. Communities don't need aid forever! Helping communities tap into their own abundance is cost effective and sustainable, without long term dependence on aid funding.

  • Local and National Governments. Empower your people! This is a cost effective tool to increase local economies and help subsidize the need for government funding.

  • Communities You can do this yourself! Don't wait for outside resource when you can tap into your own.

*These findings will be published in more detail in the next few months. Contact us if you would like to be informed when the data is published. **Baseline data collection started in November and continues for new members. Data were collected by three trained surveyors using Android phones and Open Data Kit. Report compilation and data analyses was done by Morgan Richards (M.A. Sociology) and Will Ruddick (M.S. Physics).

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