Grassroots Innovations for Inclusive Economic Growth

Project summary

The project aims to investigate the governance practices, impacts and diffusion of grassroots innovations, which are developing financial and monetary infrastructures for inclusive economic growth (among low-income micro-entrepreneurs and civil society organisations delivering critical services and goods) in urban informal settlements in African countries. It is informed by the case of community currencies in the informal settlements of Kenya’s three major cities (Mombasa, Nairobi and Kisumu). Running throughout four years, the project will use a mix of quantitative and qualitative methods, all within a participatory action research approach. The project builds on collaborations with resident associations and community-based organisations in three informal settlements in Kisumu (Nyalenda, Manyatta and Obunga), the local non-profit Grassroots Economics Foundation, and the Kisumu County Council. The project brings together monetary and grassroots innovation studies in interdisciplinary research, contributing to the development and diffusion of financial and monetary infrastructures for urban informal settlements, and indicating a novel route for social enterprise and development aid.


First-year report:

The project has made important progress in

  • 1, understanding the ideas, principles and knowledges guiding the internal design of currency systems;
  • 2, recognising the practical challenges of setting and scaling up these grassroots financial innovations;
  • 3, appreciating the role of traditional community groups and communal practices in organising these monetary innovations. The project has started to build regional and national networks with public civil servants, county officials, local community organisations, and international agencies all of which participated in the kick-off meeting. It has organised capacity building workshops, introduced a currency in Kisumu, held a methods coordination workshop, developed documentary videos shared in the project website, and recruited a Postdoc, and a Media Officer. Research has been presented in one international conference, published in the form of 2 teaching cases and 1 policy brief, and 3 articles have been submitted to peer-reviewed journals.
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