The concept for Moniba, an alternative currency, came about during the first InnovAfrica forum in Bamako, Mali. It facilitates training exchanges, while providing people, who normally would not have the means to pay for formal training, with access to professional degree programs.
This currency works in two ways. First of all, a person decides that the skills of their friend or neighbour is useful and so, gives them a Moniba using their mobile phone or voicemail service. Everyone starts out with zero Moniba, and it is possible to have a negative balance. However, once a person has completed training, he or she can begin training others. Secondly, governments and employment aid agencies can use Moniba to identify the best grant candidates and thus provide access to certified training programs to those who do not normally have the financial means.
A person with a balance of zero Moniba is either inactive or has trained many people (has earned a lot of Moniba) and also received a lot of training (has spent a lot of Moniba). It is not the Moniba balance that determines someone eligibility for a grant, but rather, certain indicators stemming from account activity. For example, a grant may be issued to a person who has spent 100 Moniba and also received 100 Moniba from at least fifty different people. The Moniba project should be launched for the first time in Mali in collaboration with l’Agence Nationale Pour l’Emploi du Mali (National Agency for Employment in Mali) and in Senegal with students of Cesti, a journalism school.
Not only does Moniba "facilitate exchange" (in this case, the exchange of training) like most alternative currencies. It also allows people to "store value,” meaning in this case, people without financial means can “pay” for a diploma by offering training to others. In this way, it allows a person to become more independent and increase their chances of employment. Moniba is therefore a valuable asset to the very poor because it allows them to offer and receive training. It is also valuable to highly motivated individuals who are provided with easier access to professional training and grants since the organizations that issue grants choose the most active/motivated candidates. The system also ensures that alternative currency and mutual training does not diminish the value of institutional education by establishing a positive connection between the two types of training.
Individuals who received training also gain autonomy. They can thus find employment or start their own business. Whether through mutual training or a professional degree program, Moniba provides the means to gain this autonomy to people who normally do not financial means to finance formal training. People using Moniba can receive as much training as they want since it is possible to carry a negative balance. In fact, it is not the account balance that indicates value, but the credit and debit totals.
Moniba is a project that was set up on the French network correspondants.org, on the innovative uses of technology in developing countries. After the first experiences in Mali with the support of the Minister of Education and professional training, as well as in Senegal, it could develop in France and in more than the 40 countries through this network.
During the first forum InnovAfrica which took place from December 14 to 18, 2009 in Bamako in Mali, Moniba has been proposed as a complementary currency dedicated to mutual training.