The Kenyan Sarafu (a Community Inclusion Currency (CIC)) is distributed through an initial allocation to new users and continuous reward system – which is fed by a holding fee on CIC balances.
In a typical community dependent on injections of national currency – trade will often just slow to a crawl and stop due to lack of national currency as commodity prices increase. As we’ve seen in Kenya where Sarafu has been distributed to over 40,000 people, in communities with a Community Inclusion Currency trade can continue; The less national currency available, the more CIC will be used.
We posit that national currency unavailability can be evidenced in an increase of CIC volume per capita. Beyond that, CIC circulation meta data (the goods and services being bought and sold) tells us what commodities are in need due to the lack of National Currency in circulation. According to studies, CIC usage also shows people interacting by trading their goods and services when National Currency is not available, builds trust and local resilience. In the CIC Whitepaper section 4.2.1 Proof of Impact for the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) there are ways to add information to nearly all the SDGs using this data.
Based on this evidence of need (increased CIC trade volumes per capita ~ lack of national currency) as well as specific usages (commodities) as well as networking (centrality and clustering), gender equality, and so on. We can derive various CIC indicies based on all that is possible to measure using CIC trade data.
Consider a typical CIC user: a woman in her 30’s providing for a family of 3 children by buying and reselling vegetables. She begins to accept a CIC for payment – because her clients, also mothers like herself, simply don’t have enough Kenyan Shillings. If she can spend this back at the shops of those other women, and they can then spend it back at her shop, there is a virtuous circle created that makes this network stronger than others not using CIC in the face of economic downturns.
This behavior is not only commendable, it is measurable and worthy of reward. The fact that a network of traders is using CIC is evidence for their lack of National Currency – and as well their ability to support each other without it.
What if this CIC Index could help us monitor and know how often, when and where to inject limited amounts of aid (and specifically cash transfer funding)? How best should aid be distributed? In cash transfer programming recipients are based on need assessments via surveys which are good at establishing needed recipients as well as a minimum expenditure baskets (MEBs) or basic allotments, but how can CIC data augment this?
If we have 2 aid recipient populations that were equally qualified via survey work – and there was an opportunity to invest more aid (given they both receive a basic allotment) into one of these groups – our work suggests that the investment is much better placed with the one that accepts CIC from others to support their community (or chama as in the photo) and spends it to support their families. Such aid support could as well be given to vendors or specific productive capacity grants (like developing syntropic agroforestry (food forest) plots) where it can be tracked that they received CIC from such surveyed and in-need recipients.
By encouraging circular trade within communities (and even between communities by connecting CICs together) – humanitarian aid can help build and leave in place a basic circulatory system for community support and resilience. CICs could increase or decrease in usage relative to need and aid organizations as well as governments could monitor them and react surgically to support optimal market health.