Social innovation | Brazil

My language course for your tarot session?

Anyone who is socially active in Brazil can earn themselves “Muda” tokens. But how does the alternative currency really work? A quick look
A hand presents a cell phone. The open Muda app can be seen on the screen

Earn digital tokens for social engagement? That is the goal of the Muda community

The short word “Muda” comes from the Portuguese verb for “to change” - and it also means “seedling”. This is a fitting image for our new social currency. It was launched in 2019 on a digital blockchain platform in Rio de Janeiro and is the product of a colourful team of artists, professors, hackers, surfers and dreamers. The alternative currency was designed to incentivise and promote cultural, educational and socio-ecological activities. It aims to strengthen principles such as sustainability and cooperation. Muda gives the term “value” a new meaning.

A few simple basic rules apply to the social currency: One Muda is equivalent to one Real (our national currency), but the Muda tokens cannot be exchanged for currency and can only be used within the network. There are currently over 5,000 members throughout Brazil, but most of them live in Rio de Janeiro. The aim was to get plenty of Mudas into circulation so that it would beeasy to do business with them.

“The digital currency was designed to promote cultural, educational and socio-ecological activities”

Members earn Mudas by offering services such as language lessons or financial advice, or by volunteering in their local area, planting a tree, or even by doing something good for themselves - for example, meditation.

The actions are documented on our website and then approved by the people who initiated the network. It works on a principle of trust that the activities have actually been carried out, but of course if we suspect that someone is claiming too many Mudas, we intervene.

“Muda gives the term ‘value’ a new meaning”

The currency can be spent on products and services listed on our website or in the app. There, members offer help with internet access, antiquarian books, dance courses, tarot sessions or even organic food, which is delivered directly to your home in the form of a food basket. The food deliveries are subsidised by the NGO Saúva.

Demand is such that the Muda team has recently started its own agroforestry project, growing organic fruit and vegetables. During the corona pandemic, which had particularly devastating consequences in Brazil, our user numbers soared. Many families in need signed up. Demand ebbed after the pandemic, but we are still delivering around one hundred food baskets every week.

More information on the platform is available online (in Portugese). As told to Jess Smee in the context of the Goethe Institute’s Kultursymposium in Weimar, Germany