Grassroots Economics and Community Inclusion Currencies (CICs) - Lift a billion people out of poverty

Proposal overview

In a nutshell

The ultimate goal of GEF is to impact the lives of over one billion people around the world that currently live in poverty unnecessarily, simply due to lack of access to national currencies. CiC is a blockchain-based community currency system running on xDAI with over 50,000 active users in 70 communities that have produced 500.000 transactions totalling almost $3,000,000 since 2020. GEF, the foundation that developed CiC, has helped the Red Cross, World Food Program, GIZ, and UNICEF to secure pilot projects of close to $10M that will allow CiC to reach over three million people in marginalized communities over the next three years due to lack of access to national currencies.

GEF is seeking $50,000 of funding from Harmony to port over from xDai and leverage Harmony’s community and bridges. This will allow the CiC network to connect to Ethereum Mainnet, create liquidity pools, and provide the foundation to scale the network.

Like the women above, over 50,000 users today trade CiC tokens on the xDai blockchain using Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD similar to SMS but with menus) codes on $5 phones.

The best way to fall in love with the project is to watch this documentary.

In Detail

A billion people are poor simply because they live in communities that have more goods and services to offer each other than they have national currency to trade them.

The solution is to translate the abundance of supply and demand in each community into an adequate medium of exchange that allows them to trade.

We will accomplish this in the following steps:

  1. Leverage blockchain technology to make Community Inclusion Currencies a secure and un-enclosable medium of exchange for small communities.
  2. Make the launch and management of Community Inclusion Currencies repeatable by relying on local organizations and support of global NGOs.
  3. Interconnect the currencies of individual communities and allow them to exchange in the existing financial system.

Since we started over 10 years ago (with paper vouchers!) CiCs have evolved significantly and incorporated valuable experiences. In 2018, we started implementing on the blockchain (POA and moved to xDAI in 2020) and today over 50,000 people use cheap cell phones and USSD codes to trade farming, education, food, haircuts, etc resulting in nearly $3.000.000 in transaction volumes.

By enabling users to access and trade on blockchain via USSD and market their goods and services, we have been able to see amazing results:

Users Category # Users Balances Trade Volume Number of Trades
Labour 21,343 2,981,765 55,055,872 99,759
Food 12,290 3,413,067 71,979,896 120,155
Farming 9,787 2,158,258 19,137,443 44,434
Shop 5,726 1,842,694 48,496,618 66,957
Fuel/energy 2,903 653,365 9,806,893 17,625
Other 1,806 498,644 7,281,413 13,027
Transport 1,768 331,346 7,661,592 11,057
Water 1,099 324,776 9,950,447 14,661
Education 788 289,393 2,099,132 6,574
Health 339 197,710 5,510,767 8,216
Environment 317 60,645 2,087,108 3,387
Savings 277 3,063,793 61,676,619 51,842
Government 57 9,033 164,336 625
Faith 40 73,670 1,418,684 2,643
System 37 69,505 3,673,117 930
TOTALS KSH 58,577 15,967,666 305,999,937 461,892
TOTALS USD 58,577 143,709 2,753,999 461,892

Above are transaction volumes (equivalent to Kenyan Shillings for balances and volumes) of our users since January 2020.

Now that we have proven the first part of our strategy, we are ready for major expansion. Our partnerships have allowed GIZ to raise $6M for the expansion of our programs in Cameroon. The Norwegian Government has raised over 3 Million via the Red Cross. UNICEF and WFP are actively running pilots and randomized control trials.

Grassroots Economics and Community Inclusion Currencies will become a global, decentralized economic system.

For this effect, we are looking to migrate and launch on Harmony. So far we’ve built our entire solution to reach the last mile on top of EVM compatible chains, yet we’ve not found a chain where we can reliably say that we can cover the gas fees for our vulnerable users, nor one that has fast and reliable bridges to mainnet. Furthermore, we will have to create DAOs!

We need a chain that is:

  • EVM compatible
  • open to collaboration and interested in last mile solutions
  • fast and secure cross-chain bridging
  • able to deploy and connect to liquidity pools
  • a part of community of app developers that want to work on marketplaces for goods and services as well as verified claims.

In the above diagram we have (1) Social Enterprises developing a token on Harmony as a credit obligation redeemable for goods and services, which can circulate as a currency. We then have (2) initial investors that purchase these tokens like the Red Cross in order to support communities. We connect these tokens/vouchers to liquidity pools for further liquidity and investment and enable the purchase of data claims.


Grassroots Economics is a Non-Profit Foundation registered in Kenya and has been working with marginalized community groups since 2010 to empower and support the development of local, connected and resilient economies.

We are a full copyLeft and radically open source team and believe in edge design and starting tech projects from practical field work.

Our programmatic team has over 5 years’ experience on average working with marginalized communities and providing real solutions. They are the source of inspiration and guidance for tech development as they see the real-life problems on the ground daily.

Our engineering team is full of top notch developers and pioneers in decentralized architectures. They are by-far led by passion for what we do.

Management, Administration and Operations

William Ruddick [LinkedIn] [Gitlab] [Github]
Founder and Co-Director / Product Lead

Shaila Agha [LinkedIn]
Co-Director, Communications & Operations Lead

Njambe Njoroge [LinkedIn]
HR, Admin and Field-Ops

Gladys Maina Wanjiru [LinkedIn]

Janet Akinyi

Amina Godana [Gitlab]

Emmanuel Mbui [Gitlab]

Joyce Kamau [Gitlab]

Benard Nguma

Sylvia Karanja [Gitlab]

Support Engineers

Wilfred Chibwara [Gitlab]

Nadzua Mwero

Mwanaidi Ibrahim

Franciscar Achieng [Gitlab]

Jacob Mwatumbi

Field Officers

Eckhard Volkman [LinkedIn]

James Thiong’o


Louis Holbrook [Manbytesgnu] [Gitlab]
Lead Architect & Edge Designer

Blair Vanderlugt [Github] [Gitlab]
Engineering Lead

William Luke [Github]
Dev - Frontends and APIs

Geoff Turk [Github] [Gitlab]
Dev - Data Analytics

Darren Zal [Github]
Dev - Data Dashboarding

Phillip Wafula [Gmail] [Github] [Gitlab]
Dev - Backend & Custodial Systems

Mohammed Sohail [Github] [Gitlab]
Devops and Security

Daven Savoie [Gitlab]
Blockchain Node Manager

Ida Apayo [Gitlab]
Comms - Web + Wiki

Humanitarian Partners

Adam Bornstien [LinkedIn]
Danish Red Cross (Innovation Master)

Maria Tavares [LinkedIn]
World Food Program

Robert Stuedemann [GIZ]

Camila Justine Jacinta Haux [LinkedIn]

Tech and Other Partners

Modeling [Blockscience]
Block Science

Funding Requierements

  1. $10,000 USD for Code changes and DevOps for Validation Node setup in Kenya and Migration of current users.
  2. $30,000 USD - For Staking onto our Validation node in order to ensure we will always have enough gas to support beneficiaries for the next several years of expansion.
  3. $10,000 USD to be placed in a DAO that chooses Liquidity Pools connected to CICs to invest in.

What are your milestones?

3 Months:

  1. Finalize testnet launch in November
  2. Setup a Harmony validation node with stake
  3. Migrate users and tokens (deploy contracts) to Harmony
  4. Setup bridged tokens on Eth mainnet

1 Year:

  1. Setup a DAO to invest in liquidity pools connecting those wrapped CICs to ONE
  2. Extensive UX design and market place
  3. Marketing/PR!

Funding release (in ONE)

  • $10K immediately in order to test and launching product on Harmony
  • $10K after Harmony mainnet launch - used for node setup and staking
  • $20K for after migrating and activating 10.000 users
  • $10K after forming first DAO

What help do we need?

Core support for this grant - is setting up a validation node with enough stake that we can mine enough ONE to support all user transactions into the next few years and onward toward over one million daily trades. We also need to attract more top notch Dev talent and bring on investors (via future liquidity pool).

Metrics for success

We publish anonymous datasets with user meta data here.

General research articles as well as randomized surveys of users can be found here

Targets for the next 3 months and focus of the grant:

  1. Setup a Harmony validation node - with Stake
  2. Test and Migrate code and users from xDAI/BloxBerg to Harmony
  3. Develop the first bridged token (Sarafu) from Harmony to eth main-net
  4. Deploy a Uniswap liquidity pool (Sarafu | ETH)

Milestones 2022

  1. Develop a DAO for liquidity pool investments
  2. Solidify global charter legally (massive credit clearing union)
  3. Migration of 58k+ users from Kenya and another 400,000 Transactions.
  4. Expansion in Kenya and Cameroon
  5. The development of over 20 new CICs and corresponding Liquidity pools

Our high level (turtle paced) tech OKRs are listed here.

External links


This is a wonderful movement. I’m quite surprised that there are people who don’t have access to their own currencies.

I hope this gets the funding they need to launch on harmony. The many upcoming bridges and cheap transactions fees will immensely help the movement.


This is an incredible project and I’d love to see you get the funding. The quality of people’s lives that are being improved by allowing them the ability to enter into and raise their economic standing is wonderful. That this project has positively impacted so many people, I can’t wait to see it continue to grow.


Thank you @edbong for such a detailed and compelling proposal. Approved for $50k Launch grant. Congrats!

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