Asia Initiatives is a registered 501 C3 non-profit organization located in New York, with sister organizations in Japan and Singapore. Founded in 1999, the organization aims to promote sustainable development for underserved communities, with a particular focus on women. Asia Initiatives has worked in close collaboration with the M.S. Swaminathan Research Foundation and other partners in South Asia to fund over 200 micro-credit banks, establish 40 Village Knowledge Centers, and support education and technology initiatives. Asia Initiatives has also developed SoCCs, which is described below.
SoCCs (Social Capital Credits) is a virtual community currency for social good that combines the best practices of carbon credits and MPesa, the revolutionary high impact telephone banking system in Kenya that is bringing micro banking within reach of anyone with a mobile phone. This breakthrough concept is currently being used in pilot sites in India, where it originated, but has grown to projects in other parts of the world like Ghana, Kenya and Costa Rica. It aims to empower communities to improve their lives while leveraging the multiplier effect of each development dollar.
“As I travel the globe, particularly in the West; I hear “loud sound bites” of oversold materialistic goals and values. I firmly believe that your timing is right to launch and broaden the scope of SoCCs!” - Kusum Gaind, Founding Member Access Circles, former Citibank Exec.
“SoCCs is indeed a glimpse into the future of social justice work!” – Donna Akuamoah, United Methodist Women
“Poverty is more than a set of financial numbers…and no amount of money thrown at poverty can irradiate it until the poor become stakeholders in their own success. Communities thrive when there is a high level of individual economic energy- not necessarily financial economic energy. A system such as SoCCs allows for everyone to become a stakeholder in their communities dream. Not a creditor to the dream, not a supplicant, not usurper but a stakeholder and partner in that dream. When “money” is removed from this kind of system and replaced by rewards that empower and encourage self-reliance, self-confidence and a “can do” attitude, financial wealth is naturally mobilized because it is consumer spending that drives any economy…as people are able to rise, better health, better education, better communities, they will spend more money in the formal economy…which ultimately is the way of moving people into the middle class” – Marva Allen, Technology Entrepreneur, Founder of Hue-man Bookstore
“Psychology studies indicate differences between people working for good/social causes versus just working to earn money. Who do we become when we work for social good and the impact that has on communities, versus who we become if we think only of ourselves, and of everything in terms of money?” – Joan Holmes, Found, The Hunger Project
“SoCCs has the potential to be as transformative a concept as micro-credit” – Eva Haller, Educationist, Philanthropist
SoCCs are redeemed by young girls and women who carry out tasks that not only help themselves but their families and communities as well. To put it shortly, do social good to earn SoCCs, and then spend those SoCCs to improve your life! Some social tasks include cleaning up beaches and streets, getting vaccinated, and attending health check-ups, and assisting with community education. SoCCs can be redeemed for practical items like public amenities and job training, and for cool things like cosmetics and field trips!
You can listen to Abenaa Akuamoa-Boateng, Director of Women’s Health to Wealth, explain how SoCCs are used in her Ghana projects here!
SoCCs is a bottom-up initiative, giving power and the freedom of choice to communities so that they are stakeholders in their success. Implementation of SoCCs entails drawing up earning and redemption menus, highlighting tasks that the communities or individuals could perform to earn SoCCs and items that they require on redemption. SoCCs Earning Menus include items such as getting children vaccinated, sending children, especially daughters, to high school, waste management, providing child care or senior care, planting trees, and paving streets. SoCCs Redemption Menus include items such as school fees skill training classes, home repairs, and telephone talk time.
A local SoCC Manager is trained to work with the community so that the items and services offered on the Redeeming Menu are those that the people in that community need and the opposite also applies to the Earning Menus. The manager is also trained to maintain SoCCs passbooks, and validate the tasks performed for earning SoCCs. These SoCC transactions can not only be accessed and viewed at the online SoCC Market, which you can access here, but they can also learn about initiatives other communities are taking to improve their homes and neighborhoods, fostering P2P learning. You can learn more about SoCCs and the SoCC Market learning process here.
Other SoCC services include SoCCon, which aggregates the demand of poor communities by getting them better prices for critical supplies, and the SoCC Starter, which enables young people to obtain capital for starting small businesses. SoCCs can help people in poor communities fulfill some of their basic needs while improving education, healthcare, savings, and more. For every five iSoCCs earned by a community member, one CommSoCC is also deposited into the community cache, which can then be used for common projects such as a micro-sewage system, improvements to the street or public space, or childcare centers.
Synechron (Mumbai): Synechron Technologies has developed the SoCCMarket online platform for Asia Initiatives as part of their corporate social responsibility initiative.