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Eco-Pesa began circulating in August 2010 in Kongowea, which like Bangladesh, is made up of multiple villages crammed together tightly. Such informal settlements are among the most densely populated areas in Kenya. Yet unfortunately, they often lack the infrastructure to dispose of trash and sewage. The Eco-Pesa was set up to deal with that problem (pdf).

Here’s how: After the currency was introduced to Kongowea, the settlement held a large trash disposal event, in which local youths were given five Eco-Pesa for each trash bag they filled (the trash was ultimately sent by truck or hand-cart to the nearest landfill). They spent this cash at local businesses, which could either use it to buy goods or services from other local sellers or exchange it for shillings. After three months with the Eco-Pesa, the monthly income of businesses in Kongowea had risen by 22%, and the settlement had rid itself of 20 tonnes of trash.

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