What are SoCCs?
Poor families spend the bulk of their earnings on basic amenities like food, clothing and shelter while any useful tasks they undertake towards creating social good largely remain unrewarded. By providing people SoCCs for beneficial tasks like waste management, improving the neighborhood, or tutoring etc. which could then be redeemed for products and services, a portion of their income gets freed up for spending on better education or on savings leading to an increase in the overall wellbeing of the community while also ensuring the building of social capital. SoCCs have the potential to exercise a multiplier effect and act as a catalyst for development without reliance on money.
The idea for SoCCs came to Geeta Mehta, the founder of Asia Initiatives, out of the firm conviction that overemphasis and complete reliance on money is more of a problem than a solution, and progress and development can be better served by creating sustainable and equitable alternate mediums of exchange. Today there is an urgent need for and the opportunity to invest in new paradigms of development. SoCCs is one such initiative – through our different pilot projects, people are being encouraged and taught to attend health sessions and camps, being trained on civic consciousness and preservation of water, on hygiene and cleanliness.
How SoCCs Work:
SoCCs is a bottom up initiative, giving power and the freedom of choice to communities so they are stakeholders in their success. Implementation of SoCCs entails drawing up of earning and redemption menus, highlighting tasks that the communities or individuals could perform to earn SoCCs and items that they require on redemption. A SOCC manager, from the community or the partner executing the project with AI, is trained to maintain SoCCs passbooks, and validate the tasks performed for earning SoCCs. While the monitoring and accounting of SoCCs is manual in the early stages, the longterm goal is to build a technology platform for trading in SoCCs and capturing necessary information.
Just as carbon credits encourage and reward environmental responsibility using market mechanisms, SoCCs encourage social responsibility using market mechanisms and help price community values into the economy at a premium to values of individual greed, on which current economic systems are based. The build out of the SoCC Market will enable trades to be conducted via text messages on ordinary mobile phones, just like MPesa, the revolutionary system in Kenya that is bringing micro banking within reach of any one with a mobile phone.
The SoCC system is committed to making the communities stakeholders in gathering and owning their own data. It treats community data as the intellectual property of the communities. Each use of this data will generate benefits, akin to a royalty, to the communities. By logging on to the SoCC Market on the computer or the mobile kiosk, community members will not only be able to see the SoCCs transactions in their community, but also learn about initiatives other communities are taking to improve their homes and neighborhoods, fostering P2P learning.