Nairobi Residents Turn to Community Currency

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Several low-income villages outside Nairobi are using a new community-based currency. The “pesas” are equal in value to the Kenyan shilling and can be spent in the community just like cash. The concept is growing in popularity worldwide.

At the Sifa Primary School outside Nairobi, Kenyastudents pay their tuition with a new, local currency called the pesa. The school is one of several institutions that accepts the community currencyTeacher Josephine Ouma says the currency hasmade life easier. The currency is widely used by people in the GatinaVillage where she livesThe pesas are equal in value to the Kenyan shilling and can be spent in the community just like cash

The new currency gives poor people more buying power than they would otherwise have. If members of the community have a shortage of thenational currencythey can use the community currency to “get access to the goods and services they may need,” said Ruth Mwangi, with Grassroots Economics.

It is like having a credit card without the interest.

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