Breadcoin: The new dough to help feed the hungry

Global Business

A program to help the homeless on the streets of Washington D.C., relies on food tokens and helps make sure donated money goes where it should.

It also benefits small businesses and entrepreneurs.

CGTN’s Alasdair Baverstock introduces us to ‘Breadcoin.’

For Carl Sanderson, a homeless man on the streets of Washington D.C., getting a square meal can be a challenge. He’s ushered away from most restaurants, and begging for cash has its own issues.

“Nine times out of 10 the people that are in the street are homeless for a reason because they got a vice,” Sanderson said. “Alcoholism, drug addiction, and nine out of ten people who would be willing to donate otherwise don’t want to see the money that they’re earning, going towards someone’s drug habit.”

But today, he’s been handed a different currency than the dollars he was expecting.

It’s called ‘Breadcoin’ – a food token accepted at select food stands around the capital – and he’s trading it in for breakfast.

“I think it would help a lot with people being generous with the community, knowing that their money is not going toward anything other than food,” he said, as he sipped on his coffee.

Purchased by charitable givers for $2.50, Breadcoins are worth $2.20 to homeless people when traded in at participating food establishments. The other 30 cents fund the non-profit – which issues some of it to offer business loans to those same participant companies. It’s accepted at eleven locations around the capital, including at Ali Ezildin’s hotdog stand.

Ali, who is Egyptian, benefited from the program’s aid for small businesses.

“I got loan for $2500, and I have paid almost half of it,” he said. “It helped me a lot, because I didn’t have any money to renew my business license.”

Some 2,800 Breadcoins are currently in circulation in the capital – the brainchild of economist Scott Borger.

“It’s not very profitable for banks or credit unions to lend to small business,” Ali said.

“And what we found is that Breadcoin actually created the possibility to do those loans, but do those loans with a low interest rate, because the first thing that they’re doing with the money that they receive in Breadcoin is to pay back their loan.”

As Breadcoin expands, Borger said he’s developing a cryptocurrency to replace the physical metal coins, which are costly to mint.

It’s all about more effectively feeding those in need, and getting charities working — to make business sense.

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