CIC (COVID-19 Crisis) Cash Aid

Community Inclusion Currency (CIC) based Aid works as a cash distribution method during a crisis.

Based on a post at Grassroots Economics: With unstable food systems and deteriorating markets and supply chains, knowing how to target aid is crucial to providing relief and building more resilient communities.

Sarafu, a Community Inclusion Currency (CIC) in Kenya, has a rapidly growing distribution network with 11k (mostly very small) businesses in some of the poorest regions. Users form markets to trade goods and services using the vouchers and the data is stored on the blockchain. Using the blockchain transaction data we can target specific health and food related businesses to receive aid based on how connected they are to their community. These businesses can convert their CICs to donor funds using Mpesa with local community groups.

Farming, Food/Water, Health would be primary targets for CIC Aid. Grassroots Economics, the Sarafu CIC manager, processes data minute by minute on the most important parts of these networks and can focus in a way that can show tangible results – in terms of targeting cash distribution to hubs and promoting specific circulation, supply chains and markets.

Since 2010 CICs have been used in Kenya and reviewed and deemed an acceptable means of transaction by the Government of Kenya without violating any Kenyan Laws. The system works over USSD so that anyone in Kenya with a sim card can use it – No Internet or Smartphone required.


  • Anyone with a sim card can sign up for Sarafu and receive an initial 400 Sarafu
  • The weekly CIC Aid amount is determined by the amount of available aid funds and crisis projections.
  • CIC recipients will get additional CICs proportionally to how many people they trade over 20 Sarafu to on a weekly basis.
  • Users in specific business categories (Farming, Food/Water, Health) and deemed as hubs will receive double the Sarafu aid.
  • Users can refer other users for an additional 100 Sarafu.
  • Anyone can use Mpesa to buy Sarafu at a discount rate (based on how much Aid fund there is in total) and the current supply of Sarafu in circulation. We are giving out 2x the Mpesa sent to us in Sarafu for the next 90 days.


  • Aid funds are distributed and targeting fairly using verifiable parametric triggers based on need, market centrality and business type.
  • CIC circulation – not being cashed out is ~10x times larger than the Aid funds being used.
  • CIC Circulation data helps identify:
    • current and future targets for aid
    • avenues for trade, sharing and social cohesion
  • Reporting and Dashboarding:
    • GE provides weekly reports on targets, distribution and impact measurements.
    • A public dashboard shows the various effects.

Next Steps:

  1. Begin on data analysis and targeting
  2. Inform existing key hubs
  3. Begin larger test distributions
  4. Monitor results:
    1. Expected increased trade frequencies and volumes
    2. Expected increased market size and density
    3. Surveys:
      1. User Feedback collected
      2. User Stories


  1. Mobilization
  2. Using Sarafu now in Kenya:
    If you know someone in Kenya that needs help – please suggest they sign up for a Community Inclusion Currency account on the Sarafu network. Anyone can sign up. To get an account dial 0757628885 or send a sms with your name and what you can sell and what is your nearest town. Example: Eva Songa 07278xxxxx Chapati, Kakamega. While supplies last, new users get 400 Sarafu and Chamas (saving groups) can register to convert a limited amount of Sarafu to Mpesa. If you are in, or know, a chama please let us know.

Current Statistics: (pre COVID-19)

In January this year we tracked in one month roughly 18 Million Shillings worth of transactions among over 10,000 Sarafu users in what would normally have been the hardest month of the year.Frequently asked Questions can be found here

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