Social Capital Credits or SoCCs is a breakthrough concept and an ambitious, innovative model of social development proposed by Asia Initiatives to tackle the widespread issue of poverty while simultaneously promoting the building of communities. SoCCs constitute a new medium of exchange, used to reward socially relevant tasks that a community or individual undertakes, which could then be redeeemed for critical products and services.
Poor families spend the bulk of their earnings on basics like food, clothing and shelter. SoCCs allows a portion of their income to be freed up for spending on education, health etc leading to an increase in overall well being of the community while ensuring the building of social capital. The multiplier effect of SoCCs can act as a catalyst for development without reliance on money.
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 SoCCs 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.
SoCCs is the brainchild of Dr Geeta Mehta, founder of Asia Initiatives. An architect and urban designer, Mehta is an adjunct professor at the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation at Columbia University in New York. She is a member of the advisory board of Millennium Cities Initiatives at the Earth Institute. Started in 1999 as Friends of MS Swaminathan, Asia Initiatives operates from New York, Tokyo, Australia, Germany and Singapore.
Here are some ways in which The Cha Project could implement SoCCs in Kolkata Chinatown.