Grassroots Innovations for Inclusive Economic Growth


Start date: 1 April, 2019 End date: 31 March, 2025 Project type: Research projects in countries with extended development cooperation (earlier Window 1) Project code: 18-11-CBS Countries: Kenya Thematic areas: Economic development and value chains, State building, governance and civil society, Lead institution: Copenhagen Business School (CBS), Denmark Partner institutions: Jaramogi Oginga Odinga University of Science and Technology (JOOUST), Kenya Grassroots Economics Foundation (GEF), Kenya Project website: go to website (the site might be inactive) Project coordinator: Ester Barinaga Total grant: 8,856,626 DKK

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.


Extra midterm report
During first year, the project engaged in extensive fieldwork on the existing GE currencies in Mombasa and Nairobi, two community-to-community study visits, one interregional workshop, a kick-off meeting with regional and national stakeholders and international development agencies, and preliminary findings presented at three conferences. Due to the pandemic, during 2nd year and most of 3rd activities moved online with a series of capacity building workshops with Kisumu communities, introduced one community currency (CC) in Kisumu, developed dashboard to make quantitative trade data transparent to both communities and researchers, reached out to other Kisumu communities interested in a CC. The 4th year took us back to the field, with a new CC introduced in Aboke (a rural community where one of the Kisumu traders from the first CC had moved due to the pandemic). In our 5th and last year, we are anchoring a new CC in the development of the productive capacity of Aboke.
Outputs: 8 articles in peer-reviewed journals, 2 articles under review, 2 book chapters, 4 teaching cases, 1 game in Harvard Business Publishing. 1 book forthcoming in Bristol University Press. 1 policy brief in the Swedish International Centre for Local Democracy, 1 contribution to UN-Habitat Newsletter.
PhD student dismissed after 1 year. Instead, Postdoc prologued, 2 master thesis students (1 defended; 2nd due Sept 2023), and development at JOOUST of Certificate in Grassroots Economy and Development.

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