LinkUp Western Cape



Kenya is leading Africa’s alternative currencies movement, being

the first African nation to trial a community currency called the

Bangla-Pesa. This edition of cool currencies explores its use since

2013 in the Kenyan slum confusingly named “Bangladesh”. The

basic idea of the Bangla Pesa is to promote the slum to operate

at maximum efficiency, meaning people have the potential to earn

more. To understand how it does this, we must first understand how

the economics of a slum can be when compared to more affluent

places like Bristol…

Read more about the Bangla-Pesa –


{The Chiemgauer} started when Christian Gelleri conducted

a practical classroom project, in an attempt to get his students

to understand the role of the local economy in more depth. 8

years on, the Chiemgauer attracts over 600 businesses and 3000

users, turning over 5 million per year. And this is only the start. Its

whopping growth of over 100% per annum means its significance

is only likely to grow in the near future. Gelleri isn’t shy about his

ambitions and theories that the currency could finance 50% of

the regional economy in the coming decades.

Read more about the



“Have you ever had to explain what the Talent Exchange

is to someone who has never heard about it?”

Tim Jenkin,

Usually the conversation goes something like this:

“So what is this Talent Exchange thing?”

“It’s a system where people buy and sell without using money.”

“Oh, you mean a bartering system?”

“No, it’s not barter because it’s not one-to-one. If I give you something

you don’t need to give anything to me. You sell to someone else and

earn Talents, the name of our currency.”

“Oh you mean its like Bitcoin!”

“No, it’s not Bitcoin either. There’s no currency really, we just keep


This is followed by a blank stare as the person cannot come to

terms with what you have just said. You can see them thinking: “If

this is not money or Bitcoin and it is not barter then what on earth is

it?” It is like asking someone to contemplate a third state where the

option is binary, such as something other than life or death.

The notion that there are only two states, money (including Bitcoin)

or barter, comes from economics textbooks. Economics, we are

taught, is the science of money. In explaining how money originated

there is reference to a time when money didn’t exist. In this state of

savagery, people must have bartered the things they

had for the things they needed. It couldn’t have been

otherwise because without money they were forced

to barter. Bartering was very inconvenient so people

invented money and that solved all their problems and

‘civilisation’ has never looked back.

The problem with this idea is that no historians or

anthropolgists have ever found an example of this

mythical ‘barter society’. You only need to think about

it for a little while to realise that no band of hunter gatherers or

tribal agricultural peoples consisted of disconnected individuals all

specialising in one product and then going from house to house

hoping to find someone who has what they want and wants what

they have. They didn’t have money because they cooperated in

producing their means of life and shared the product. There was no

need for money and the idea of them bartering between themselves

is an absurdity.

This is not to say that the idea of barter did not exist, but it was more

the exchange of goods and services between communities as a

whole. The river people might have traded fish for grain from the hill

people, but this was not spot barter consisting of lone individuals

roaming around seeking a “double coincidence of wants”.

People adopt the binary idea that there is only money or barter

because their starting point is money itself, instead of exchange. If

we start with the notion of exchange, then we can see that money

and barter are just two of many alternative ways of facilitating


• Using Talents is another method of facilitating

exchange, but it is neither money nor barter.

Talents do what money is supposed to do (facilitate

exchange) but it also does what barter does (effect

exchange without money), but this does not make it

money or barter. Only the binary frame of mind would

say Talents are barter because money is not involved,

or that it is the same as money because it facilitates



Our talents are our wealth

Community Exchange System is:

• an online exchange system that facilitates

exchange in a number of different ways

• an online ‘marketplace’ where users advertise

their skills, offerings and requirements


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