Creating global currencies for sustainable development
By Karim Chabrak
Image: Coinsence logo. Courtesy of the author.
In line with a global brain-drain trend and in search of better opportunities, an increasing number of Tunisian young talents leave their home country every year to acquire new knowledge, start their professional journey and grow their impact in a new society. Even though most of them acquire a good living standard and land attractive positions, the longing for the homeland never ceases and the dream to see their land and loved ones in better conditions keeps growing.
While in the past remittances were the major contributions, today, with the rise of decentralised collaboration tools and digital platforms, there is huge untapped value-creation potential as well as unlimited opportunities for knowledge and resource-sharing that could bring diaspora and locals together, beyond all borders. Besides business opportunities that can be boosted and scaled through diverse contributions and cooperation, innovation projects and initiatives related to the Sustainable Development Goals in particular are highly attractive for impact-oriented diaspora members.
Despite the emotional connections and the great synergies that can arise from collaboration between diaspora and local ecosystems, structural challenges, bureaucratic hurdles, and a lack of visibility still limit opportunities when it comes to cross-border social and economic interactions.
The current traditional solutions for funding, governance and operations of multinational and multi-stakeholder projects generally do not offer the needed flexibility and effectiveness for most diaspora and international organisations, especially when it comes to the ability to support informal activities in a dynamic way and reward individual micro-contributions from different networks across the globe. For the diaspora to be intensively engaged in civil society, in education and in the economy, there needs to be new tools that involve them directly in decision-making and in governance, and that turn collective reflections and common visions into effective joint actions with tangible results.
In line with this, community currencies can offer the needed medium to stimulate activities and value exchange between diasporas and locals. With the use of blockchain technology in the creation of these types of currencies, diaspora expertise and resources can be mobilised, managed, and engaged in a more decentralised and flexible way. Contributions can be recognised and valorised globally.
Thanks to the support of the UNICEF Innovation Fund and the German Development Agency (GIZ), Coinsence was able to move from their first prototype toward offering a scalable digital platform, as well as a framework for new initiatives and networks across the globe, and is starting its first pilots with international communities and partners.
After the creation of an open-source decentralised collaboration platform that enables communities to create their currencies, perform transactions and share resources and expertise, Coinsence.org introduced the first community currency targeted to mobilise the Tunisian diaspora to collaborate and contribute to projects in cooperation with local initiatives and partners in their home country.
Tunisia Impact COIN is issued and allocated in a participative and transparent way to projects and initiatives that contribute to a cultural, environmental, and socio-economic impact in Tunisia. These COINS are used as a rewarding instrument for all kinds of contributions and can be further spent for peer-to-peer value exchange within the network.
Considering the fact that many contributions from the diaspora are financial in form, Coinsence further enhanced their platform with a tokenised solution for financial transactions. This solution has been selected by the Tunisian Central Bank within their regulatory sandbox framework. Donors and impact investors can buy, in real time, stable coins that can be transferred between members and can be cashed out by any beneficiary in Tunisia. Besides the new ability to perform fast, non-banked, micro-transactions at a low cost, the usage of blockchain is introducing a new layer of security and trust, where donors and investors can trace financial transactions and collectively manage funds and spending in a more flexible, effective, and transparent way.
Through a combination of the necessary digital tools for decentralised organisation as well as the community currencies and crypto assets that create liquidity and stimulate collective value creation and exchange, innovators, entrepreneurs, and social activists can now overcome financial constraints and bureaucratic hurdles. This opens a new sphere of emerging-use cases and opportunities. The members within the network can connect with projects and individuals to co-create solutions and share their created value. Any individual, organisation or company willing to support this is now getting more opportunities as a result. They can also offer services, resources, or discounts to support the impact projects and the involved communities in a direct or indirect way. Through recognition and rewarding functionality, Tunisia Impact COINs create the perfect bridge and fill the gap between the non-profit philanthropic world and the economic investment world. The collected COINS, which show the quantified amount of contribution from each member, can further have an economic utility, can increase in value and can be spent on benefits offered within the networks.
While current activities are targeting to globally mobilise the non-for-profits, entrepreneurs, and diaspora for innovation and impact-driven projects in Tunisia, Coinsence offers an open and accessible platform, and supports initiatives and networks that consider introducing their own currencies to mobilise people and organisations for common purposes and for social impact.
‘Coinsence demonstrates a new way where organizations, business partners, entrepreneurs, changemakers and innovators worldwide can join forces to address local problems and collectively work towards resolving global challenges’, says Oula Tarssim, GIZ Project Manager for the project ‘ProGreS Migration, mobilization of the diaspora’.
Even though blockchain technology is still new for most people, organisations and regulators, the developers of Coinsence believe in a vision where democracy and governance go beyond borders, where sovereignty and transformation start with the ability of communities to create their own currencies, and where financial instruments are built to foster inclusive and sustainable growth. Now, it is up to the youth to liberate their potential from imposed hierarchy and old structures, and to step into the next evolutionary paths which enable connections anytime, everywhere.
Dr Karim Chabrak is the founder of coinsence.org, a decentralised collaboration, value creation and exchange platform that enables organisations and communities to create their own impact currencies to fund SDG-related projects and mobilise resources. Karim was born in Tunisia. After high school, he moved to Germany to study engineering where he completed his PhD in telecommunication in 2006. Besides his interests in social innovation, tokenised economy and fair finance, Karim’s main area of expertise is how to use technologies to re-invent organisations and create new decentralised and scalable economic and governance models which are better capable to tackle today's global social and environmental challenges. You can find him at:
This article is part of the issue ‘Empowering global diasporas in the digital era’, a collaboration between Routed Magazine and iDiaspora. The opinions expressed in this publication are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) or Routed Magazine.