Suvarna Garge (Editor)

Sarafu Credit

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Date of introduction  2010
Central bank  Grassroots Economics
User(s)  Kenyan local communities

Sarafu-Credit (sarafu is the Kiswahili word for 'currency') is a community currency system operated in Kenya. It is used by five different communities, all located in informal settlements or slum areas, including small businesses and schools.


The community currency system takes the form of paper notes, circulating in complementarity with the national currency, the Kenyan shilling. It aims at fostering local trade by mobilizing under-used resources, and at satisfying basic needs (such as accessing food and paying school fees) by allowing users to trade even when the national currency is scarce.

The adoption of the community currency has generated an average 22% increase in participating businesses' incomes. In using communities, up to 10% of local food purchases are being done using the community currency. Field studies have also showed that community currency usage is positively correlated to increasing levels of trust among community members.

Such monetary innovation, designed to go beyond official development assistance, by considering the nature of money or credit and alternatives way it can be created.

The Sarafu-Credit system has been developed and is implemented by a Kenyan-based foundation called Grassroots Economics.


The first complementary currency introduced in Kenya was the Eco-Pesa, founded by Will Ruddick. The complementary currency in Kongowea, Mombasa County, was in circulation between August 2009 and November 2010, as part of a donor-funded environmental project. Instead of directly spending the donor funds, the complementary currency allowed to realize the projects' objectives as well as boosting the local economy. Beside the collection of 20 tonnes of waste and the creation of three youth-led community tree nurseries, the use of Eco-Pesa resulted in a 22% average increase in participating businesses' incomes.

After the success of the project, it was followed by Bangla-Pesa in 2013. Will Ruddick, Caroline Dama and four other program members were falsely accused of undermining the Kenyan schilling and all charges were dropped after investigations and a petition was signed by 200 Academics at the Hague to support the program.

Local groups

In 2016, five communities are currently using Sarafu-Credit in Kenya totalling 700 users. The system is the same in all of them, though each community uses its own community currency, giving it a unique name depending on the local toponyms, and managing it independently.

In South-Africa, two community currencies have taken inspiration from the Sarafu-Credit model and were consulted by Grassroots Economics Foundation: the K'Mali and the Berg-Rand.


Sarafu-Credit Wikipedia