Updated: Nov 26, 2020
Rosemary Owino is a widow from Siaya village in Siaya County. She has wanted desperately to curb her own poverty and make ends meet for the 6 children that are under her care. She started a fish business where she buys fish, smokes or fries them and sells to the people in her community under a tree in their local market - but because Kenyan Shillings are so scarce there are few people to buy her fish.
She was able to join a women's group (chama) called Kwe Kende - A group that trades and supports each other using Sarafu (a Community Inclusion Currency (CIC) which is created and traded on a blockchain using simple feature phones with no internet). Through this chama, Rosemary has been able to find support within the network and she has been able to sell her fish in both Sarafu and Kenyan Shillings.
Rosemary cites that Sarafu has created possibility for sustainable living within her community. Through Sarafu, her fish sales have increased and she has been able to save the Kenyan Shillings that she then uses to pay her children's school fee. She has also been able to meet her needs through getting other goods like: flour, tomatoes, vegetables, water and charcoal among other goods from the Sarafu users in her network.
Rosemary is grateful to use Sarafu and says "It helps me practice the sharing our pastors preach in church". She is hopeful that through the use of Sarafu, her business will continue to thrive and be of great impact to the people in her community.
Overall the Sarafu Network of CIC users in Kenya is comprised primarily of 40,000 users in both urban and rural areas. Roughly 50% of the network is rural and has traded over 100Million Sarafu tokens this year (valued locally at roughly 1 Million USD of goods and services) between each other to offer basic support and trade goods and services. The majority of the trade is for contributions to chamas and church groups, food stuffs, farming and other labor. In October 2020 rural users traded over 8Million Sarafu among each other for food stuffs alone.
The economic outlook in rural Kenya is not good right now; as less and less Kenyan Shillings reach rural areas markets have began to collapse. CICs like Sarafu help keep markets moving and communities together.
Special thanks to Emma Onyango - one of the founding members of Bangla-Pesa - who came out to Siaya to teach this Rosemary and her chama how they can support themselves with community currency.