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We believe that all communities, even the poorest ones, are resources rich. They may not have access to vast amounts of money, but they do have other resources like people, passion, talent, and willpower.

So we asked ourselves: how do you create an ecosystem where communities can leverage these resources?

Simple. You create a marketplace where these resources have value.  


What is Kulu Coin?

Kulu Coin is a virtual currency that civil society groups ("CSO") use to “purchase” project funding or social services. Kulu Coins are earned by undertaking community service. One community service hour (per person) earns 1 Kulu Coin. 1 Kulu Coin is valued at R20 (or at local markets rates around the world). By "valuing" one Kulu Coin at R20 (or at local markets rates), participating groups have the option to not only cash them in for project financing, but also to “purchase” volunteer services.

How are Kulu Coins earned? 

Kulu Coins are earned by recipient groups and CSOs by first undertaking community service. One community service hour (per person) earns 1 Kulu Coin. 1 Kulu Coin is valued at R20. So to raise R1,000, a CSO must first do 50 community service hours. All Kulu Coin is tracked and administered online. 

How are Kulu Coins paid for?

Businesses, NGOs or individuals (“social investors”) who want to invest in community development sponsor Kulu Coins. Depending on what a participating CSO needs, a business can either invest R20 to cover each Kulu Coin earned, or it can commit to providing 1 volunteer hour for that same Kulu Coin. Social investors and the recipients agree on a target goal before the first Kulu Coin is sponsored or earned. 

How are Kulu Coins spent?

Participating CSOs have the option to either cash in their Kulu Coins for project funding or they can use Kulu Coin to “purchase” volunteer services.


Frequently Asked Questions


What Does This All Look Like? 

ABC Inc. is a real-estate business in Kenton-on-Sea, South Africa looking to invest in the community as part of its CSR commitment. At the same time, Happy Children (“HC”) is an informal township organisation outside Kenton that provides a safe environment for 20 - 30 local children pupils to complete their homework and receive extra lessons after school. HC needs continued financial support (for rent and expenses) and volunteer services (to teach basic English or to cook meals). Through the Kulu Coin system, Kariega project pairs ABC with HC.  ABC commits to providing R5,000 a year and 100 volunteer hours to HC. HC now knows it needs to earn 350 Kulu Coins - 250 for the R5,000 and 100 for the ABC’s volunteer commitment. To earn 350 Kulu Coin, HC must first complete 350 hours of community service. HC mobilises 20 children, 10 parents, and two staff members to spend three hours cleaning up litter in the community. In those three hours alone, HC earns 96 Kulu Coins. HC is a third of the way to earning the required credits. HC also commits to planting a community garden and assisting with critical coastal research in partnership with a local NGO.

From ABC’s perspective, not only has it committed R5,000 and 100 volunteer hours to a worthy community project, but it has also facilitated 350 community service hours including a community litter drive, a community vegetable garden, and coastal research and education! 


What's the logic behind Kulu Coin?

Our approach is also guided by a sustainable community-development model referred to as Asset Based Community Development. The appeal of ABCD lies in the premise that communities can drive the development process themselves by identifying and mobilising existing, but often unrecognised assets, and thereby respond to and create local economic opportunity.  ABCD mobilises individuals, CSOs, and informal groups to come together to build on these assets - not concentrate on solely on individual needs. Through Kulu Coin, community assets are connected to another in ways that multiply their power and effectiveness.

What Evidence Do You Have That Kulu Coin Works:

Kariega Project and Kulu Coin has successfully been operating for three years. To date, we have opted to keep Kulu Coins local to Kenton-on-Sea to ensure that it works as intended. We are satisfied that it does. In 2014-15, with just R33,572.00, we facilitated 320 hours of early education support, planted 50 trees in low income communities, painted a community centre for the elderly, provided a mobile laptop lab for Adult education, paid an Afterschool centre supervisor's stipend, and bought 10 mattresses for the Masibulele Preschool. On top of all of that, we also facilitated 1007 hours of community service.