Practical Use Cases of Sarafu Blockchain-based Currencies in Kenya During the Covid-19 Economic Crisis

Over the last couple of weeks, BitcoinKE has highlighted how Sarafu community currencies are helping low-income neighborhoods pay for basic essentials despite the tough economic times brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic.

In this post, we take a look at practical use cases on how these community inclusion currencies (CICs) are helping small businesses and families survive and actually thrive, during these hard times.

SEE ALSO[PODCAST] How the Kenya Red Cross is Using Blockchain-based Sarafu e-Vouchers During Covid-19 with Safia Verjee

Here are 6 examples on how CICs are finding practical real use cases in Kenya:

  • Takeaway Restaurant – Lawrence and his brother run a small takeaway restaurant called Blues Hotel which cooks delicious chapatis for residents in Mukuru Kayaba Kambi Moto, Nairobi Kenya. In one month, the restaurant has traded business worth $3, 000 out of which $2, 600 of businesses supplies such as cooking oil, fule, and flour have been purchased using Sarafu
  • Family Restaurant – Vincent and his mother run a small restaurant delicacies outlet in Mukuru Kayaba. In one month, they had 123 customers spent $840 in Sarafu which they have once again used to buy their own basic needs in the circular Sarafu economy already created
  • Tailor Shop – Susan is a mother in Mukuru Kayaba. She has been selling masks to the community in exchange for Sarafu for 3 months, which she then uses to purchase food for her family and save some for later. In one month, Susan has sold $756 worth of masks to over 100 people – all in Sarafu!
  • Metal Business – Victor is in the Jua Kali sector where he makes metalic doors, desks and jikos (ovens) for Mukuru residents. In one month, Victor has sold $1, 246 worth of his services to 54 clients using Sarafu
  • Cereal Shop – Grace is a caring mother who joined Sarafu about 9 months ago. She feeds over 100 households in Mukuru. In one month, Grace sold $2, 286 worth of food to 114 community members and households in Sarafu and spending a similar amount in restocking and for her basic family needs
  • Church – Dzeha is a pastor in Kwale, coastal province of Kenya. He introduced CICs to his congregation of 84. The congregants now give offerings in both CICs and Kenya shillings. In one month, Dzeha’s church received 97, 303 CICs from 181 people. The church spent 126, 638 CICs to 42 people as part of its community efforts

As humanitarian strategic thinking shifts from providing food and other necessities to offering cash transfers, the rise of community currencies is a small reflection of these larger changes occurring.

The case of the Red Cross Sarafu cash transfer voucher program is a classic example of how cash transfers can help grow the local markets rather than distort them, while also offering a trade-off between speed and inclusion.

Whether or not CICs like Sarafu will transition from a donor-backed aid currency to a self-sustaining micro-economy remains to be seen. However, Sarafu seems to be have solved the biggest challenge to getting adoption – trust.

It will be interesting to see how these developing micro-economies transation into post-Covid and if they will usher in a myriad of blockchain-based cryptocurrencies with similar success to Sarafu.




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