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A New Blockchain Solution Aims to Curb Child Labour in Mining



Blockchain Solution Curb Child Labour

Two entrepreneurs have turned to the blockchain to build a platform that will enable businesses to curb child labour, environmental devastation, and the financing of armed conflict in their supply chain processes.

Dorae Inc. is running a pilot of a blockchain solution for the coltan and cobalt provenance under the tagline “the blockchain for raw materials”. The blockchain solution is Ethereum-based and will track the journey of a mineral from its source to the end user. The company aims to make companies more responsible with its global supply chain tracking solution that can be used for anything such as smartphones to electric cars.

Referring to their solution as one that is expected to “revolutionise the global market for these materials”, Dorae has kicked off its first pilot in DR Congo with the backing of the country’s president, Joseph Kabila. The pilot project is currently tracking cobalt and coltan from three mines in the DRC. The two minerals are used in items such as laptops, phones and electric vehicles. If the pilot becomes successful in the utilisation of blockchain technology to the secure transmission of mining supply chain data, it will help to eliminate the child labour cloud that has been hanging over the DRC’s cobalt and coltan mining industry. The Central African country, which is a hotspot for mineral mining, has been plagued by armed conflict coupled with a poor record of human rights issues including child labour.

Application of Blockchain Technology

The blockchain solution is expected to help by making it possible for all involved parties to record information about the origin, transit and processing of the raw materials into finished goods. All the stakeholders involved – companies, consumers and financiers – will have insight regarding the origin of the material and its full journey.

Speaking to Global Trade Review, Dorae’s Co-founder, Aba Schubert said, “The highest value of blockchain is addressing the disconnect in the information that’s needed in one end of the supply chain and the information that exists at the other end. That’s why we decided to start our project in DR Congo because there is information on the ground that end-users need, particularly US manufacturers who have actual regulatory requirements to conduct diligence on their supply chains, but it gets lost along the way.”

Partnerships with Governments and Businesses

Santos Silva, Dorae’s other co-founder, stated that the company needs to work with governments as a way of them standing out from their competitors. The two co-founders believe their platform could benefit different governments by giving them a tool that they can use to manage the information collected from their mines while empowering them to fight child labour and tax evasion issues.

Schubert went on to add: “We do not work against governments, we do not work independently from them, we work with them. Instead of just running our business on a private basis, we went and showed them our project, to get their blessing.” This was witnessed when the DRC’s president, Joseph Kabila met with Dorae in person and gave his approval.

Although the blockchain-based solution by Dorae could potentially curb human rights abuses, environmental exploitation, as well as regional conflict, the company’s founders, are tackling the issue from a business-focused viewpoint as companies associated with such issues could experience huge legal, financial and reputational repercussions.

Schubert went on to say: “We are not an NGO, we are not going in scolding people and telling them they should not do business this way or that. We are saying ‘here is a way you can do it and be economically compensated for the effort that that involves, and this is a system to get that information from A to B’.”

The end goal is to have firms rewarded by the end-consumer for maintaining proper standards. This is one of the key reasons that Dorae expects to get support from different companies in the supply chain industries as each has “an incentive to preserve that information”. The company is expected to target all supply chain stakeholders from both small to large-scale miners, processors and distributors as well as large international companies like Apple and Tesla.

How the Solution Will Work

According to Schubert, anyone can be onboarded to the platform as long as they have “good quality information”. Each material will have its own tailored dataset that will detail the information regarding the place of origin, amount and the state of material, time and location of the transaction, transaction individuals and the satisfaction of legal requirements. All data will be gathered and verified through partnerships with certification organisations, government inspectors, and NGOs.

Schubert said: “Our system takes the information, aggregates it at point of origin, loads it to blockchain. When a unit of material moves from the mine to the initial distributor, that sale is logged, and then when that distributor sells it to a processor, that sale is logged too. What the processor actually does to the material, that information gets logged, and so you get this immutable chain of information that is there as a pre-packed audit trail for the end-user.”

Lack of due diligence by supply chain companies is what commentators and academics have argued has contributed to the de facto embargo of minerals from the DRC leading to a weak economy. By making use of the blockchain, the platform will make it easier and cheaper for companies to prove their supply chains are responsible.

Schubert concluded by saying “financiers don’t want to get associated with it if there is some liability attached to it, and with this system, they can know that what they are financing is actually green mine-sourced.” While trade financiers are not their main focus at the moment, they will also be eventually added to the platform at some point in the near future.

Doare’s next milestone will be to increase the number of mines and raw materials and expand to additional countries. The startup is already in talks with specific countries in Africa and South America.

Blockchain Technology

IBM and Twiga Foods Partner to Offer a Blockchain-Enabled Microcredit Solution



Blockchain-enabled Microcredit

IBM Research in partnership with Twiga Foods announced a new microcredit solution that is now ready for rollout following an eight-week pilot. The pilot saw the two companies utilise the blockchain-based financing system to process 220 loans to recipients with the average lending amount of approximately $30 per recipient. The loans were for four to eight days with a one and two percent interest rate respectively.

The solution came about when Twiga Foods – a mobile-based supply platform for Africa’s retail outlets, kiosks, and market stalls – was looking to expand its logistics services into a total market ecosystem by adding financial services for its customers.

Grant Brooke, Twiga Foods Co-Founder said, “Previously, we were focused on helping farmers distribute bananas, tomatoes, onions and potatoes to 2,600 kiosks across Kenya, but we soon realized that we could help them sell even more produce with access to working capital. It’s simple, if the food vendors can sell more, we can distribute more, growing both of our businesses.”

Twiga Foods begun working with IBM Research in Nairobi late last year to establish a blockchain-enabled finance lending platform that could foretell a vendor’s credit score. Isaac Markus, a researcher on the inclusive financial services group at IBM Research in Kenya, said: “We analysed purchase records from a mobile device and then apply machine learning algorithms to predict creditworthiness, in turn giving lenders the confidence they need to provide microloans to small businesses. Once the credit score is determined, we used a blockchain, based on the Hyperledger Fabric, to manage the entire lending process from application to receiving offers to accepting the terms to repayment.”

Benefits of the Blockchain-based Microlending Platform

With the blockchain, the lending process is transparent to all parties involved. Blockchains are immutable which helps in reducing fraud since no one person can add to the blockchain without agreement from the entire network. Also, blockchains can make use of smart contracts that are executable in real-time, therefore, reducing the time it takes for loans to be manually processed and issued. The technology will also help address the financial woes that informal and small businesses encounter when looking for cash to re-invest in their businesses.

The eight-week pilot saw the loan order size increase by 30 percent with each retailer having an average of a six percent increase in their profit. All 220 loans were executed through mobile phones and deposited directly towards the businesses’ working capital. If a retailer had an order delivered, they would then get an SMS with loan options that they could use to finance the order. The retailer would then respond to the SMS confirming the loan option they wanted.

“We had several iterations of the platform based on feedback from the retailers. The SMS-based solution provided an effective channel for a diverse set of users, some with limited IT literacy, to access financing for their orders,” stated Andrew Kinai, the lead software engineer on the project at IBM Research.

Following the successful pilot phase, the platform will first be rolled out to traders in Nairobi and then target SMEs across Africa by the end of 2018 with expansion into new sectors.

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Blockchain Technology

IBITx Launches New African Brand to Focus on Blockchain Incubation




IBITX Software Inc., a cryptocurrency exchange service and crowdsale software provider, has launched its new African brand called The company aims to position itself as an incubator for the development of blockchain concepts and companies in Africa.

A New Blockchain Incubator for Africa

IBITx is a digital currency exchange that matches investors with token sales on a single platform for ‘offerings’ as well as a free market trading system for all aftermarket cryptocurrency purchases and sales.

In a company press release, IBITx CEO Rose Marie D. Araos said:

“Our intention is to launch in partnership with a financial service provider a regulated environment in at least 2-8 African countries to start ideally by June 2018. The system’s skeletal structure is available for testing, however, we are still endeavouring to negotiate with regulated brokers and regulatory organisations as to which country will house the first African blockchain incubator, exchange, and crowdsale system.”

The new brand, AFRIBITx aims to become the exchange, crowdsale, and blockchain incubator brand for Africa. IBITx Software will harness its talent pool of blockchain developers in Philippines, India and South Africa with the objective of developing cryptocurrencies and decentralised technologies across the African continent.

The company also plans to put in place revenue sharing partnerships with local brokers, which will see them handle management and custody of the various local markets.

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Blockchain Technology

South African Startup Vio Digital Launches Blockchain-Powered Money Transfer App



Vio Digital

Vio Digital, a South African fintech startup, is launching an Ethereum blockchain-powered money transfer app that will go live in May 2018.

Vio Digital is offering a new form of international money transfer that enables people to transfer money from anywhere in the world with zero transfer and exchange fees. Moreover, Vio Digital has not set a foreign exchange markup, which translates to affordable money transfers for users. Vio Digital, therefore, eliminates the price barrier that Africans in the diaspora face when sending money back home.

“For people sending money home to their families, additional processing and admin costs can be crippling. Our app uses technology to give people safer and more convenient ways to move their money. Technology like the blockchain means we can take cost out of the system to give people cheaper ways to move their money,” Praga Govender, CEO and founder of Vio Digital, stated.

Vio Digital held its initial coin offering from February 19 to 2 March 2, 2018, where the startup managed to raise approximately $1.2 million in ETH.

How Does the App Work?

The startup’s app is currently available in the Google Play Store and will initially be available in Kenya, Ghana, Nigeria, and Cameroon. To use the app all you need to do is download it and register your account by completing the KYC process. You will then receive a Vio wallet address, which you will use to make money transfers.

The next step is topping up your wallet by buying Vio tokens using Visa or Mastercard. Once you have done that, you can send or receive money. To cash out, convert the Vio tokens into your local currency and then transfer the amount to your linked Visa Debit card through Visa Direct. The Vio app also features a transaction history to keep track of your transfers, exchanges, and top-ups.

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