Social Capital Credits: The Community Currency for Social Good

                                                              

Social Capital Credits: The Community Currency for Social Good

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Solution proposed by: 
Asia Initiatives
In a Nutshell: 
Prof. Pedro Sanchez, World Food Prize recipient and a MacArthur Fellow, has praised SoCCs as “the most transformative and simple idea since Mohammad Yunus launched the micro credit movement”. SoCCs is a community currency designed to counter money-poverty, empower communities, and multiply the impact of development aid.
Where and When: 
Kumasi, Ghana (2013-present); Villages in Tamil Nadu (2014-present); Madurai, India (2015- present), BoriSinh Villages in Maharashtra (2015-present); Kisumu, Kenya (2015-present); SEWA, Ahmedabad (2015 to present), Curridabat, Costa Rica (in planning stages)
Challenges: 
During our work in the development field for 12 years, the team at Asia Initiatives saw tremendous untapped social capital in communities. While these communities were “money poor”, their full potential and social capital was not being recognized and leveraged to help them climb out of poverty. Top down aid and solutions by most international donors we knew, no matter how well meaning, did not seem fully responsive to people, or sustainable in the long run. Social Capital Credits (SoCCs) were therefore designed to be completely people lead, develop local capacities, Incentivize, measure and reward acts of social good in a manner that is fully accountable and sustainable.
Innovation: 
While community currencies have been used in localized situations in the past, Social Capital Credits (SoCCs) is innovative in setting up a multi-project system that can be scaled up across countries and development verticals. Once more people begin to use the online SoCCMarket.org platform, there is expected to be much community-tocommunity learning as people can be inspired by other communities that are succeeding in getting clean water, promoting education of children, improving their health, turning waste to wealth, harvesting rainwater, or getting an additional crop from their land. SoCCs empower communities to improve their own lives while leveraging the multiplier effect of each development dollar.
Concept: 
Social Capital Credits (SoCCs) combines the best practices of carbon credits and airline loyalty programs to help poor communities climb out of poverty. The SoCCs system is a grassroots energizer giving the power of choice to communities and helping them become the main stakeholders in their SoCCess. The SoCCs team at Asia Initiatives works with individual communities in extensive SoCCratic dialogue to customize SoCC menus to their specific needs and capabilities. People choose what they will do to help their communities, and what they will redeem SoCCs for, meeting their own individual and family needs. SoCCs Earning Menus include items such as getting children vaccinated; sending children (especially daughters) to high school and college; waste management; providing childcare or senior care; planting trees; and providing labor for local infrastructure building or maintenance. SoCCs Redemption Menus include items such as healthcare, health insurance, school fees, skill training classes, home repairs and telephone talk time. A local SoCC Manager is trained to work with the community. While most of the pilots are currently using SoCC Books to record SoCC transaction, Asia Initiatives has also developed www.SoCCmarket.org, a technology platform for trading SoCCs and capturing necessary data.
Description: 
Asia Initiatives always works with local partners who have considerable trust of the community and organizational ability to implement SoCCs. 4 SoCCs are especially important in poor communities where the money that women earn through micro enterprises or labor can be taken away from them by their husbands and used for alcohol etc. SoCCs is a currency that can only be used for healthcare, education and skill empowerment, so is much liked by women. Learning from local partners and communities about the unmet need for projects larger than individuals can be, we have developed the concept of Community SoCCs (CommSoCCs). iSoCCs are earned by individuals and redeemed by them to fulfill some of their basic needs of improving education, healthcare, savings, etc. For every five iSoCCs earned by a community member, one CommSoCCs is also deposited into the community cache, which can then be used for infrastructure projects such as a improvements to the streets or public space, access to clean drinking water and micro-sewage system, which can be connected to the municipal grid as and when it becomes available. Other SoCC services include SoCCon, which aggregates the demand of poor communities by getting them better prices for critical supplies; and the SoCCpreneur program, which enables young people to obtain capital for starting small businesses that will benefit their neighborhoods and generate employment. One of our SoCCpreneur has started an online sales site (Dharavimarket.org) for the craftsmen in her community that is helping them get a larger portion of the sales price.
Impacts: 
In Madurai, people living along the heavily polluted River Vaigai are now becoming custodians of the River, ensuring that no waste or untreated sewage is dumped into the River. They are also beginning to plant trees and create public spaces along the River. In Kumasi, market women have come together to keep the market clean, plant trees and to improve their own health and the health of their families. In Costa Rica, women are planning to come together to patrol their neighborhoods to make them safe for their children, and to improve public spaces, spending their SoCCs on getting Internet services from the government.

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