Karla Córdoba-Brenes

Empowering communities to create complementary currencies

Karla Córdoba-Brenes

Project: Cambiatus

The goal of this project is to enable communities to quickly design and launch currencies based on their local, environmental and social goals.

“I would say #Blockchain is the real changemaker... Bitcoin is only its first implementation! more is to come!”

The Big Idea

Karla Córdoba-Brenes has a vision of the world in which communities with shared goals create digital currencies based on self-determined values and rules. Using blockchain technology, Karla and the Cambiatus team are creating an open platform and methodology, allowing any group to introduce new currencies for organising and achieving social and environmental goals.

Our reliance on dollars, Euros or pesos leaves us fragile to economic shocks and financial crises that occur outside of our control. Studies on complementary currencies have revealed many positive impacts on local environments and economies, and Karla’s concept is potentially transformative for communities, particularly those that lack resources or suffer regular economic hardship.

Why We Funded

Karla began her fellowship with a bold vision laid out on a simple, four-page plan. She built a high-quality, user-friendly platform with impressive efficiency, created a unique methodology that encompasses onboarding, education and support, and has inspired multiple communities and individuals worldwide to build solutions for their own, local challenges.

Cambiatus is nurturing over 2,000 users from multiple communities in three different countries, with many more waiting in the pipeline. There is an encouraging viral effect of organisations introducing others to the concept, and the project is engaging, educating and enabling a diverse range of groups.

In Rio de Janeiro, a community of artists established MUDA to incentivise conscious actions and promote and exchange services, products, and cultural activities. In Costa Rica, local, family-run grocery store owners exchange PULS for goods and services after earning them by using an educational platform to learn finance, purchasing and business management skills. There’s also CAMBIUU, a complementary currency enabling social entrepreneurs to build collaborative businesses focussed on restoring natural and social capital.

Karla’s fellowship idea stimulates meaningful conversations around blockchain and cryptocurrency’s social potential and asks provocative questions about how we perceive money and gauge value. Her exploration of complementary currencies proves this concept works: people will organise around ideas and unleash socially beneficial projects if given the means. It is fascinating to imagine what this impressive framework will inspire next.

Karla on the fellowship:

“The Shuttleworth Foundation is the best source of funding for an entrepreneur that wants to create something new: something unproven but with a social spirit. The team really believes in you, even when you are unsure of yourself.

“The funding and freedom the fellowship gives you are amazing, and I am so grateful to have had this opportunity. This experience has been life-changing.”

Flash Grants

Irene González Chen
Flávia Gonçalves Macêdo
Lorena Erbure Cardozo
Kemly Camacho