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Femtech in Africa: Meet the Women Who Are Pioneering Blockchain Technology in Africa



Femtech in Africa

It is an undeniable fact that technological advancements are helping to solve some of the world’s most pertinent problems. In Africa, e-learning, remote working, mobile money transfers as well as digital communication are just some of the areas through which technology is exposing people to new opportunities. This is especially true for Africa’s youth. 

While technology has become part of our daily lives, the technology space is still very much a man’s domain. There is a substantial disparity between the number of men and women working in technology, with the number dropping even further in places of leadership. There have been a number of studies that have revealed that women in tech, especially in positions of power, augur well for both the consumer and the company.

The rise of the FemTech movement is partly in response to this disparity. FemTech refers to women in technology. Additionally, it has connotations of the use of technology as a tool for female empowerment. While female empowerment is important across the globe, it is doubly so in Africa where it has been noted that female empowerment leads to better economic standing for the whole family according to a World Bank study

In Africa, there are a number of women making waves within the bitcoin and blockchain space. Whether they are from Africa or their projects have a specific focus on Africa, these are women who are harnessing the power of blockchain technology to spur on positive change on the continent.

Sonya Kuhnel

Sonya Kuhnel launched the Blockchain Academy in 2013 with the intention of educating South Africans about cryptocurrencies, blockchain technology, and their potential use cases.

“I became involved in the bitcoin/blockchain community because I believe that there is a huge amount of social good this technology offers and it could really change the way we transact and do business with each other. I therefore also decided to start Blockchain Academy as very few people really understood these opportunities at that time,” Kuhnel told Bitcoin Africa.

More specifically, Kuhnel believes blockchain technology can help fix one of South Africa’s most widespread and crippling problems. “In addition, because blockchain technology is so transparent, secure and decentralised, this technology could be used to combat fraud and corruption, which I felt very passionate about in South Africa where corruption is rife in the public and private sector.”

The Blockchain Academy holds training sessions for individuals, groups and organisations. Through the classes, participators gain an in-depth understanding of cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology.

While the number of women in technology is slowly growing across the world, Kuhnel is of the opinion that the cryptocurrency space within South Africa is lacking adequate female representation. She urges women to engage in activities that facilitate their interaction with the blockchain technology space.

“Women need to network and attend more social and business functions in order to meet and engage with people in the community. I am really not sure why there are generally so few women in this space but I am seeing this change in countries such as America where you see a lot more women attending conferences and events.”

Alakanani Itireleng

Alakanani Itireleng is an entrepreneur who founded the Satoshicentre to provide individuals and companies with access to information on bitcoin, blockchain technology, and the overall cryptocurrency space in Botswana. The Satoshicentre is an organisation that seeks to empower entrepreneurs with knowledge on blockchain technology in an effort to spur innovation.

Itireleng explained how she got involved with the blockchain space: “I learned about bitcoin in the beginning of 2012 when I was looking for ways to make money online to raise funds for my late son Pako. When he passed on I stopped searching or learning on bitcoin until 2013 when I just felt that I really need to study about bitcoin and find ways in which we can use bitcoin to empower people in Botswana. In 2014, I registered Satoshicentre as a blockchain technology hub, where we provide education on bitcoin and the blockchain, and also work on blockchain projects.”

The Satoshicentre has conducted a number of successful workshops. While the interest from the local bitcoin community is promising, Itireleng believes that

“African women in tech should endeavor to learn more about blockchain technology for the purposes of innovation as opposed to participating in the myriad of scammy get-rich-quick bitcoin schemes.”

“In [Botswana], most women [in the local bitcoin community] are currently more involved in bitcoin get rich schemes or cloud mining activities […] and less in understanding the underlying technology. This is something that needs to change,” she told Bitcoin Africa.

Tricia Martinez

Tricia Martinez is the founder of the new blockchain-based financial services platform Wala. It is a platform that seeks to provide financial services to those who are not able to access traditional financial services by leveraging blockchain technology to facilitate access to a number of financial services, all at a substantially lower cost than those witnessed at banks and other formal financial institutions.

Wala has created a crypto-token that is designed to facilitate cheap, fast, and easy microtransactions. In Uganda, as well as throughout the rest of Africa, micro-transactions are common due to low socio-economic status of many citizens. However, the high fees charged by traditional financial institutions automatically exclude many users. While bitcoin was originally designed to facilitate cheap and fast transaction, high fees and network congestion have made this impossible, thus the creation of the Dala token.

Martinez told Bitcoin Africa that she originally founded the company in an attempt to connect low-income Ugandan farmers to financial services.

Martinez believes that for all people, especially women in tech, to effectively function within a certain niche, they must be self-starters and showcase a significant amount of drive. “If there is one thing I have learned about being an entrepreneur, you must be proactive and make sure you are heard – even if that means starting from the bottom. Reach out to blockchain companies and experts to have informational interviews, take people out for a coffee to pick their brain, offer to be an intern and do the hard work,” she told Bitcoin Africa.

Moreover, because the blockchain and cryptocurrency space is relatively new, it is possible to participate in the community as long as one possesses an understanding of the technology and stays updated with all relevant happenings. Because of this, she urges women to not shy away from the space as participation is based on knowledge that is easily acquired.

“Remember, blockchain is still in its peak and hype. Everyone wants to get involved one way or another which means there is so much more competition in the space. However, due to blockchain still being in its infancy, a few months of experience in the space goes a long way.”

Elizabeth Rossiello

Elizabeth Rossiello is the founder and CEO of BitPesa an FX and payments platform that uses bitcoin to enable fast and cheap cross-border remittances. Founded in 2013 in Nairobi, Kenya, the platform is focused on frontier markets, more specifically the African continent. 

The company has been well received within the cryptocurrency space, receiving over $10 million in funding from investors and recently acquiring European money service platform TransferZero in an effort to grow the company’s offerings and expand its reach.

For Rossiello, being a woman in the male-centric technology space has not been without its challenges. 

“I’ve definitely felt I’ve had to work four times harder to prove myself than maybe I would have had to have if I weren’t female. People always ask me how can I do this when I have young children – and these are questions that men with children don’t face. I’m often the only female speaker at a conference!”

In addition to its business acumen, BitPesa is also notable due to the fact that its top three executives are women. This move is designed, in part, to show that women are able to participate just as effectively as men within the job market and more so in the technology space.  

“There’s recognition that it’s a problem, whether we see the whole system change so that it is easier for females to get funding etc… What I can say though, is that my experience has shaped BitPesa – at one point, our entire executive team was female! We hire a lot of women – In a way, we have become a point of refuge and we receive some of the best CVs in the industry from women who admire the ethos and are eager to join us,” Rossiello stated.

Connie Gallippi

Connie Gallippi created the non-profit organisation BitGive, which utilises blockchain technology to make charitable donations traceable in attempt to bring much-needed transparency into the charitable giving sector.  

BitGive has facilitated direct donations to charitable organisations around the world, totaling to over $30,000. Using BitGive’s GiveTrack platform, it is possible for donors to track where and when each dollar was spent. This system helps to reduce waste and mismanagement of funds leading to actual changes at the grassroots level.

For a long time, Africa has been the focus for a number of charitable organisations. However, NGOs and other charitable organisation are often regarded as fraudulent and corrupt. Due to mismanagement of funds, the public faith in charitable organisations is low.

While all organisations claim to be honest, it can be difficult to ascertain how donors funds are spent and how, if at all, any progress is made at the ground level. Following an introduction to blockchain technology through Satoshi’s white paper, Connie Gallippi decided to utilise the technology to create a foundation that could truly be kept honest and held accountable for donors funds. Gallippi said: “When I learned about bitcoin and blockchain in the early years, I was always fascinated and inspired. In 2013, I dove a little deeper into my understanding. At that point, I recognised the truly revolutionary potential of the technology on a global scale and wanted to leverage it for charity and global philanthropy. Within a few months, BitGive was launched and was the first official bitcoin non-profit.”

Gallippi believes the growing number of women in tech in the global market is an indication that women are interested in technology but may be discouraged due to a number of factors such as low media coverage.

“There are actually many women in the community, and it’s growing every day. There are hundreds (if not thousands) of women in the industry, many in leadership roles, representing all different areas of expertise, and they are shaping the direction of the space,” Gallippi told Bitcoin Africa.

“I would love to see the women in the industry be more visible, with speaking roles, involved in key community decisions and negotiations, covered in the media, and generally recognised a lot more. This is one way to encourage more women to join the community and help them feel welcome; in addition to dispelling a lot of the myths that you have to be any certain type of person or have any certain type of skills to get involved,” she added.

If you are a woman considering a career in technology but are somewhat hesitant as this is still a largely male-dominated field, you should take inspiration from these women who are pioneers in the blockchain space in Africa.

Furthermore, the blockchain industry offers a wide range of new innovations, open communities, and jobs opportunities as the blockchain is poised to play an integral role in the future of society. If you are considering a career in technology, you should definitely find out more about cryptocurrency and the blockchain and perhaps find your calling in this new growing technology sector.

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Blockchain Technology

How CryptoCribs Could Economically Empower Africans



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Decentralised cryptocurrencies have gained a substantial amount of popularity among investors due to their high-profit potential in the past twelve months. However, the real power of the decentralised economy is that it can empower individuals in many never before seen ways by disintermediating central authorities.

An excellent example of a use case for decentralised digital currencies is the cryptocurrency-powered home sharing platform CryptoCribs, which enables homeowners to rent out spare rooms and apartments in exchange for cryptocurrency.

What is CryptoCribs?

CryptoCribsCryptoCribs combines the peer-to-peer element of the sharing economy with decentralised digital currencies to build the first “purely peer-to-peer electronic short-term rental system allowing rental payments to be sent directly from one party to another without going through financial and reputational intermediaries like Airbnb.”

“The CryptoCribs project has the mission of liberating rental markets, empowering individuals and building a strong community. To achieve this mission, we want to break up the different intermediation layers in a step-by-step process. While CryptoCribs plans to act as an intermediary initially, our intention is to progressively disintermediate ourselves,” the startup states in its whitepaper.

The house sharing platform currently offers several different locations, including listings in South Africa, and there is a review system in place so that hosts and travellers can view each other’s reviews. The platform has all the traits of an Airbnb for cryptocurrency users, which provides the hosts in different countries with a new source of revenue that is not controlled by a company that takes a share of the rental profits.

CryptoCribs’ Potential in Africa

In Africa, renting out spare rooms or apartments on CryptoCribs could become a new way of financially empowering the local population. The fact that CryptoCribs hosts are being in cryptocurrency directly means that no money is lost to the sharing economy platform nor is the value of the payments affected by fluctuations in the local currency. In light of the volatility of certain African currencies, this is a major selling point for choosing CryptoCribs over Airbnb as a host. 

Moreover, the intangible nature of digital currencies means that a government cannot physically remove the wealth of a citizen. This paradigm shift is a monumental step forward in the social contract, providing an additional layer of financial security to individuals. This enables hosts to confidently use bitcoin without the fear that the actions of their government will interfere with their wealth acquisition. 

The Many Benefits of CryptoCribs

Recognition at a Universal Level

Many bitcoin users are travelling the world, which has led to a rising demand for bitcoin-accepting services in the travel industry. CryptoCribs is, therefore, a welcomed addition to cryptocurrency-accepting accommodation.

Moreover, since cryptocurrency is not bound by the exchange rates, interest rates, transaction charges or other charges of any country, it can be used at an international level without experiencing any difficulties. This can potentially save a lot of money for both travellers and businesses.

The Elimination of Fraud

Cryptocurrencies cannot be counterfeited or reversed arbitrarily by the sender as is the case with credit card charge-backs. Africa loses billions from fraud every year, which drastically impacts the economy and hinders growth. However, through the use of cryptocurrencies instead of traditional payment methods, the chance of fraud is greatly reduced to the benefit of both the host and the renter. 


CryptoCribs can financially empower even those without access to bank accounts. There are approximately 2.2 billion individuals with access to the Internet or mobile phones who do not currently have access to a bank account. These people are primed for the use of digital currencies and they could start hosting immediately as they do not require a bank account or a Paypal account like it is the case for Airbnb. 

If you have a spare room or apartments you can rent out, you should consider CryptoCribs as it could provide you with a new source of income where you receive the entirety of the rental income and you alone have control over the payments made in cryptocurrency.

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Blockchain Technology

Cryptocurrencies Can Boost Financial Inclusion Experts Agree



Cryptocurrencies Can Boost Financial Inclusion

During the Blockchain Africa Conference in Johannesburg this month, experts concurred that cryptocurrencies could boost financial inclusion and increase economic activities in emerging markets.

Globally, two billion working-age adults are excluded from formal financial services while only 34 percent adults in Sub-Saharan Africa had an account in 2014 as indicated by World Bank data. According to industry experts, financial exclusion is caused by lack of trust, high costs, and inaccessible formal financial institutions.

“The reason a lot of these systems are broken here is [that] consumers do not trust them,” Wala CEO Tricia Martinez said.

“There is a lot of corruption [and] there is a lot of fraud. You always have a middleman monitoring and managing everything. One has to trust [that] a bank is actually going to take care of my money and not take it away. […], she added.

To increase financial inclusion, the G20 Global Partnership for Financial Inclusion (GPFI) developed high-level principles that will help governments promote financial inclusion digitally. One way to do this is through technologies such as cryptocurrencies.

The Wala platform, for example, uses a crypto-token that facilitates fast micro-payments to any place in the world at zero fees. Martinez said in order to solve the challenges of cost and access, Wala turned to the blockchain, which has enabled them to offer a zero-fee financial system to consumers.

Another company using the blockchain said consumers can invest in the real estate sector through their platform to create wealth. The property investment firm, ProsperiProp, aims to enable consumers to make investments with as little as less than a dollar on property tokens.

“Property tokens earn interest or appreciate as the property value appreciates. It earns income as that property earns income. So suddenly, you have this massive ecosystem of value that we have created for this person,” ProsperiProp founder Llewellyn Morkel stated.

The Information Barrier

Both Martinez and Morkel agree that education is imperative to help ordinary consumers understand the opportunities digital currencies provide. Moreover, education helps consumers to understand how to access these services.

As much as the digital currency conversation has been taken up by mainstream media in Africa, a lot of people are still struggling to understand the concept. Martinez and Morkel recommend that experts should use less technical language when educating consumers about digital currencies.

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Blockchain Technology

Kenya’s 4G Capital to Issue Tokenised Bond



Tokenised Bond

4G Capital, a Kenyan microfinance and training company based in Nairobi, plans to become the first financial institution to issue a tokenised bond using decentralised digital currencies.

According to the Financial Times, the planned issue size of the bond is $10 million and the planned coupon will be 10 percent annually. The sale of the bond will take place next month and will be targeted at institutional and qualified investors who can purchase the bond using either bitcoin (BTC) or ether (ETH).

The company’s digital tokens will be issued by Finhaven, a Canadian blockchain startup, which is tasked with forwarding the US dollars to 4G Capital and paying investors their monthly returns in either US dollars or cryptocurrency. Finhaven claims that investors in the bond will possess the same investor protection as if investing in a traditional bond.

According to 4G Capital CEO Hennessy-Barrett, this tokenised bond issuance is partly driven by the high cost of capital in Kenya, which makes it difficult for small and medium-sized businesses to raise funds.

“There’s a big gap in the market for small African businesses to raise working capital,” he stated.

Mic Kimani, chairman of the Blockchain Association of Kenya, said: “What cryptocurrencies are doing is acting as a bridge to new sources of funding, to elsewhere in the world where there is more capital.” He, therefore, considers the tokenised bond by 4G Capital as “the most logical use of cryptocurrencies”.

Moreover, Hennessy-Barrett hopes that the tokenised bond issuance will help to put cryptocurrencies into a better light in Kenya as local regulators have so far been rather cryptocurrency-unfriendly even though the government is embracing the blockchain.

Hennessy-Barrett hopes to “demonstrate best practice so the benefits of this technology can be understood and shared”. He also said: “We’re very sensitive to regulators moving at the speed they’re comfortable at.”

If successful, 4G Capital’s tokenised bond could reign in a new era of startup funding in Kenya and other emerging market countries where small and medium-sized businesses suffer from a lack of access to affordable funding.

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