Introducing Grassroots Economics, an organization empowering communities through blockchain technology

Meet Grassroots economics, an organization empowering rural communities in Kenya using blockchain technology.

By Anna B Kiwanuka

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The decentralized digital currencies such as Bitcoin (BTC) and the underlying blockchain technology have created much excitement in the technology community, but their potential for building truly empowering social and solidarity-based finance has yet to be tested. 

According to a few experts, blockchain technology is a social innovation that can help us overcome issues and rural areas could even prove to be a fertile environment for this. 

Grassroots Economics, a non-profit foundation in Kenya is currently showcasing one of the many solutions that blockchain technology brings to life. 

The organization seeks to empower marginalized communities by enabling them to take charge of their own livelihoods and economic future. They focus on community development through economic empowerment and are dedicated to helping communities realize and share their abundance. 

The organization is using blockchain technology to build systems that empower communities to digitally create their own financial systems based on local goods and services in regional markets built from the ground up. Through the Sarafu Network, their premier Community Inclusion Currency (CIC) system, local service providers and customers are able to interact with each other and purchase goods using the Sarafu token. In addition, with blockchain technology, they can track their recorded transactions.

With the increased internet penetration, Will Ruddick, the founder of the organization saw an opportunity to bridge the existing financial gaps in rural communities. He, therefore, introduced this system as a way to enable Kenyan small businesses to scale and better yet, for people in rural communities to earn a living. All they need is to open an account and then services can be accessed through a USSD code (384*96#).

According to Sylvia Karanja, the customer support officer,  the solution has been received well by the rural communities thus far and they more are eager to join. 

The Sarafu Network currently has over 60,000 users that are from communities like Mukuru Kayanga, Kwale, Kituyi, Malindi, and Kilifi, among others.

Grassroots Economics is on a mission to launch its system in Cameroon and South Africa and hopes to pitch the idea to a few partners in Uganda. The organization launched its services in 2010 and later diverted to offering blockchain services in 2018.

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