Timothy Jenkin

Ashoka Fellow
South Africa
Fellow Since 2007


This profile was prepared when Timothy Jenkin was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2007.
The New Idea
Tim believes that existing economic inequalities and social injustices in South Africa are products of the legacy of Apartheid and an unequal financial system. In spite of the new dispensation and government programs to alleviate poverty, the disenfranchised are still wholly marginalized and excluded from the formal economic system. Tim strives to reverse the trend of the “rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer” through the establishment of an alternative banking system which provides a moneyless economic value to the goods and services that are exchanged within communities.
Tim has created an alternative banking system by reinventing the concept of “money” and established a computerized tracking system of financial transactions within impoverished communities. He is initially targeting South Africa’s townships to provide formal value to the informal exchange of goods and services within these areas. Such a moneyless exchange of goods and services allows people to offer their services and earn points in the system that they use to pay others. Each local community operates as a separate “economy” that gives everyone an equal opportunity to share in the wealth of the community. Tim relies on his computer programming skills to create a self-managed electronic-based Local Exchange Trading System (LETS) and establishes it in centralized sites for community use. While LETS is not new, Tim’s CES applies its principles in a more effective, targeted, and sustainable way to those populations who can benefit from it most.
While the Community Exchange System’s primary focus is small communities and townships, it also operates and links at the national and global levels through various digital platforms enabled by LETS. The rapid growth of CES—with the amount of goods and services exchanged doubling each year for the first three years—is a testament to its effectiveness. Starting in South Africa, Tim has helped expand CES to nine countries, and is in negotiations to bring the model to Japan and South Korea.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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