Thursday, November 11, 2010

More On the Eco Pesa

From the Eco Pesa website:

How does it work?
In the preparatory phase the voucher concept was introduced and localized by stakeholders, such as youth and village elders. The vouchers were designed with the community and introduced to the Kongowea business community and youth groups. In the first phase registered businesses are able to buy the vouchers at a 20% discount to the Kenyan shilling and use them in the community to facilitate local barter and pay youth for services like trash collection. The vouchers can be redeemed for Kenyan Shillings at a service fee of 20%.

In the second phase the discount and fee to return was removed and the vouchers were introduced to the wider community through activities such as:

* Trash collection: where residents are paid in Eco-Pesa vouchers for waste they bring to a collection area. Waste sorted at home will be given more value to encourage sorting at source.
* Community beautification: where residents are paid in vouchers to take part in cleaning and tree planting.
* Community service: where residents are paid in vouchers for manual labour such as ditch digging, land management and renovation in public areas.

After receiving vouchers residents can use them at local businesses where they will be used again in business exchanges and to pay youth for additional services.

In the third phase of the programme, the vouchers are given as loans to local groups and businesses. Low interest rates will be given on these loans with an emphasis on environmentally-minded businesses.

How did it start?

The Eco-Pesa programme started in May 2010 through a series of meetings between the Eco-Ethics team and various community groups and leaders. These meetings helped us design the voucher system, an Eco-Business network and the notes themselves. On 11 August 2010 we held a launch event and training workshop for 75 registered Eco-Businesses to begin using Eco-Pesa within Kongowea.

How are they printed?

The vouchers are security printed using special paper, UV ink, a watermark and unique numbering.

How does it effect the national currency and economy?

Since for each of the vouchers in circulation there is an equivalent amount of national currency (Kenyan Shillings) being kept, the vouchers simply act as a temporary way to keep the national currency flowing within a community. The more Eco-Pesa vouchers are in use, the more Kenyan Shillings are kept in reserve. This actually helps the national economy as well as the local economy. The local value of the vouchers is also pegged directly to the Shillings (1 Eco-Pesa = 1 Kenyan Shillings), ensuring that there will be no price adjusting or devaluing of the national currency.

Has this been done before?

The current conecept was developed and implemented by Will Ruddick in 2010. Will took his insiration from three similar programs:

* Brazil: Bancos Palmas
* US: Bershares
* London: Brixton Pound

While each of three programmes addresses a different socio-economic situation, they have all had a positive impact on their target communities in terms of increasing local purchasing power, stimulating small business activity and creating a sense of civic pride.

Where are you now?

We are currently in phase two - aproaching phase three. The community has started using the vouchers, which are are circulating primarily in the business community but are starting to reach general residents. We held an community awarness event on 20 August 2010, and two trash clean-up events in September and October. We continue to be present in the community through our local kiosk, where residents can find more information on Eco-Pesa, purchase vouchers and redeem them for Shillings.
Between our two trash collection events and tree planting. We have collected over 20 Tonnes of waste and started 3 tree nurseries.

How you can help?

* Sponsor us. To make this programme grow we need help with funding for printing and community outreach.
* Volunteer. Interested in coming to help out and seeing Kenya? Eco-Ethics has a strong and successful volunteer programme.
* Support a specific activity or business - perhaps garbage collection, environmental businesses or a football tournaments.
* Help us start an Eco-Pesa programme in another village or slum area.

Email for more information.

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