Elizabeth Olum lives in the Gatina neighborhood on the outskirts of Nairobi and runs a wholesale grocery store. Since 2014, she’s participated in a local financial experiment meant to boost trade in one of the most economically depressed regions of Kenya’s capital.
The concept is simple: Since many people don’t have enough Kenyan shillings to pay for for everyday expenses, the nonprofit Grassroots Economics has worked with community leaders to introduce a system of hyper-localized currencies. These currencies can be used at businesses like, say, Olum’s grocery store, or to pay school fees, effectively acting as a form of basic income. “The community currency has been of great value to me, because I am part of a network, one family,” Olum told Bloomberg Businessweek in November of last year.