In the last two years, we have witnessed initial coin offerings (ICOs) emerge as the go-to funding method for new blockchain projects, raising billions for startups that would otherwise struggle to raise capital using traditional funding avenues.
In this article, we will discuss what you need to look for to identify a potentially successful blockchain project and we will present Kenya-based blockchain initiative Chamapesa as an example of a promising blockchain-powered startup.
What to Look for?
Technical Skills and Expertise
The skills needed to do the work are vital to the success of a project as these determine whether the company will be able to deliver upon its promise and proposal as set out in its whitepaper. A potentially successful blockchain venture needs a team that possesses all necessary skills to deliver on its mission.
A Strong Community
A user base that believes in the project and supports the company whether directly or indirectly is vital to sustainability for a blockchain initiative. Ordinarily, a company could have a great product or service, but without users, it cannot sustain its business. Marketing campaigns must be carried out in the most captivating way possible in order to foster a strong community and market presence.
A company’s reputation determines how investors and consumers perceive it and engage with its brand, products, and services. Consistent delivery of value reinforces trust and becomes a core pillar in determining the sustainability of business operations. After all, no one wants to do business with an organisation you cannot trust to deliver on its promises.
Even though blockchain technology is still relatively new it does not have to be complex. Users do not need to understand the technology running in the back end if the front end of the product is user-friendly. What matters is that it is intuitively easy to use and solves a real need for its users.
Leveraging Existing Habits
People tend to be creatures of habit. It follows that we associate much more with products and services related to our daily habits. For companies launching products in markets like Africa, this means that marketing strategies will need to be developed for products and services to mimic people’s habits in order to get traction and adoption.
A Look at Kenya’s Chamapesa
Kenya’s Chamapesa is a blockchain initiative that is set to deliver much-needed solutions for social savings groups. Chamapesa’s product is a ledger keeping and messaging app for social savings groups, a popular culture in Kenya and many other parts of Africa. The goal of the project is to promote a savings culture amongst the people of Africa.
What does it take to form a successful savings group?
The first thing every member of a ‘chama’ group needs is a source of income, from which one can make regular contributions to the savings group. A group of like-minded people who share a common bond, values, and economic aspirations. These people could be family, friends, village neighbours or groups of professionals.
Once you have come together as a group, draw up a common agreement or constitution that members can sign and retain in order to define the group’s leadership, governance, clarify expectations on goals, and resolve disputes as they arise. Getting the group registered officially as a self-help group or as part of the Cooperative Societies Act serves to strengthen the group’s accountability.
Make sure to keep impeccable records from the start: the identities and contribution of members, minutes from meetings and accounts of the group’s activities need to be kept in either manual or digital ledgers, for transparency, auditing, and financial accountability. All the members of the group should be able to access these records and refer to them in case of any requirement.
Remember to communicate. Communication needs to be regular and consistent, for the group to maintain synergy in its pursuits. Members need to be updated on their progress, challenges, and opportunities so they can make the most of their pooled savings.
Chamapesa is building on these aspects, using blockchain elements to enhance record keeping and effective communication. In this way, it has the hallmarks of a successful and sustainable blockchain-based initiative. It is set to launch its first version of the Chamapesa app later this year, and the team behind the project is working tirelessly to foster great networks with savings groups in Kenya. If you want to put the days of poor habits in savings behind you, get ready to download the app, join a savings group or start one and commit to growing out of your financial comfort zone.
Chamapesa’s Mic Kimani told Bitcoin Africa: “Chamapesa provides a tool for groups of people to form and organise themselves. All forms of group chamas will benefit from this tool: biashara groups of women traders, boda boda riders, farmers, marketers, freelancers – what we call groups of professionals and similarly, chama groups that are more inclined to social projects like wedding fundraisers, burials, and baby showers. Chamapesa’s social messaging chat app also doubles up as a transparent digital ledger allowing groups to keep track of their contributions and goals while simultaneously communicating via a group chat. It is flexible enough for all group functions whether it is saving or merry go round or table banking.”
“What we are building is a social economic network for chamas.”
“Once we have a critical mass of chamas on our platform, we will connect chamas with others on a social network crafted specifically for groups. We expect to see chama groups collaborate with each other within and across professional groups. So you could potentially see one group in Makueni do business with a group from Nairobi and share each others records as proof of viability,” he added.
To can learn more about the project, you can watch the Chamapesa documentary.
*Readers should do their own due diligence before taking any actions related to the mentioned company, product or service. BitcoinAfrica.io is not responsible, directly or indirectly, for any loss or damage caused by or in connection with the use of or reliance on any content, product or service mentioned in this article.*
Women in Blockchain: An Interview with Blockchain Association of Kenya’s Roselyn Gicira-Mwangi
On June 22, 2019, the Blockchain Association of Kenya (BAK) elected a new chairperson during its AGM. Bitcoin Africa talked to the newly elected chairperson, Roselyn Gicira-Mwangi, to understand what the association has accomplished so far, what she plans to achieve as chairperson, and about women in blockchain.
Since it was registered in 2017 as a non-profit, the Blockchain Association of Kenya (BAK) has played a big role in catalysing the largest Kenyan community and network of people working in the blockchain space. According to Gicira-Mwangi, this is one of the achievements that is the “foundation and catalyst of everything that is happening regarding blockchain in Kenya and East Africa.”
BAK has been an inspiration and role model to other blockchain communities and networks in Zimbabwe, Nigeria, Rwanda, and Uganda. Furthermore, the association has grown its non-profit brand through the commitment and help of its community and network.
Through the guidance of a two-year strategic plan, BAK is currently working on several projects to promote blockchain awareness, adoption, and to expand the blockchain community.
“We are creating linkages with strategic partners to roll-out educational programmes for the public. The programmes will span from simple understanding and application of blockchain technology to actual courses for developers. We are also positioning the BAK as a platform to highlight all our partners’ activities to make it easy to plug into events whenever is convenient for them,” Roselyn said. “To get there, first we are working to get representatives in the different regions of the country to enable seamless representation for all Kenyans. This will lead up to a Blockchain summit at the end of the year hosted in one of these regions,” Gicira-Mwangi told BitcoinAfrica.io.
The association is reassessing its constitution and charter as it strives to grow its leadership, advisory, and board structure. A membership recruitment process for institutions, corporations, and individuals will follow this reassessment.
To support blockchain adoption, BAK has established working group forums to extract feedback and suggestions on how emerging technologies such as blockchain can drive development in the country at both levels of government.
Women in Blockchain
More than 50 percent of the people that reach out to BAK for a wide range of reasons are women, Gicira-Mwangi stated. As a woman in the blockchain industry, she believes that the diversity of players in any sector is crucial.
“My personal experience with Kenyan women is that they are keeping up with changes in technology and are keen to get a grasp on the future technological advancements and its impact on their lives. Women are also great networkers because they talk to each other about trends and events. Every other day, I get more women who want to be taken through Blockchain, its implications, and benefits,” she added.
Currently, women in Kenya are holding a wide array of positions in blockchain companies. They are trading and investing in cryptocurrencies, and increasing blockchain awareness to the people within their circles.
In anticipation of the rising demand for blockchain developers in the coming years, Roselyn plans to lead BAK in promoting the training of professionals in this line of work. Furthermore, collaborating with other regional blockchain organisations is another item on her to-do list during her term. Such partnerships could be used to promote blockchain awareness, increase blockchain innovation, and implement blockchain projects.
Gicira-Mwangi is passionate about emerging technologies and formerly worked as a programme officer at UN Women East and the Horn of Africa for eight years. Besides heading BAK, she is the director of Azuri Blockchain Consultants, a firm that connects investors with blockchain startups.
Blockchain Game Gods Unchained Secures New Game Director and Introduces Debit Card Payments
Blockchain card game Gods Unchained has added Magic: The Gathering Arena Game Director Chris Clay to its team and introduced debit card payments. These two decisions aim to drive the game closer to mainstream appeal.
Experience and Achievements
Clay’s experience of more than 20 years in design and game development will be valuable to his new position as game director at Gods Unchained. His task entails prioritising visual designs, new features, and supporting community experience.
In his previous role at MTG Arena, Clay brought on-board three million active players and more than one billion games were played. According to a report by Dot Esports, MTGA – a digital collectible free-to-play card game published by Wizards of the Coast – grossed around $225 million.
Currently, Gods Unchained is the top-selling blockchain game of the year and with Clay’s help, the game could reach greater heights and attract traditional players.
“I believe blockchain represents a new frontier for game developers. Digital asset ownership on the blockchain lets developers support games and their communities in ways we have never seen before in electronic gaming. […] Blockchain is not just for digital currency; it is laying the foundation for a whole new digital economy,” Clay explained.
As an Ethereum-based esports game, Gods Unchained has been allowing its community to purchase booster packs using ether. Users now have an alternative payments option of debit cards. This move could help the game to reach a wider audience by appealing to traditional players.
“To date, blockchain games have provided a niche group of individuals a fun and experimental game ecosystem of NFTs. But now is the time for mainstream adoption. We need these games to show value, and we do not want ‘blockchain’ to sit as just another buzzword. Gods Unchained will become a game that any person can play, regardless of their blockchain familiarity. And the fun of the game will not be predicated on the underlying tech,” stated Gods Unchained co-founder Robbie Ferguson.
In a press release, Gods Unchained announced the rebranding of Fuel Games to Immutable. Immutable is the creator behind Gods Unchained.
If you are into blockchain gaming, check out our guide to the best blockchain games in 2019.
Kenya’s Blockchain Taskforce Releases DLT Implementation Strategy for Kenya
Kenya’s Blockchain and AI Taskforce released its first report to the public since the ICT Cabinet Secretary Joe Mucheru launched the body in 2018. The report depicts an implementation strategy for the adoption of these two emerging technologies that will steer Kenya to the fourth industrial revolution.
The report, titled Emerging Technologies for Kenya: Exploration & Analysis, has stipulated an implementation strategy based on blockchain technology and AI that will solve challenges such as financial exclusion, corruption, high public debt, inefficient public service delivery, food insecurity, and high transaction costs.
Furthermore, the report will guide the government in attaining the Big Four Agenda, which encompasses affordable housing, food security, manufacturing, and healthcare.
The Chairman of the taskforce, Bitange Ndemo stated: “I am confident that this report will guide policymakers in their efforts to stimulate an efficient and resilient economy with respect to the digital transformational technologies, especially with the realisation of the Big Four Agenda.”
Some of the implementation strategies are as follows:
Digital Asset Framework
The Blockchain and AI Taskforce has proposed a digital asset framework that will guide companies wishing to list a cryptocurrency on an exchange. According to the report, the Capital Markets Authority (CMA) is looking into how to regulate initial coin offerings (ICOs) by using the authority’s legal framework and the forthcoming regulatory sandbox.
The digital asset framework is meant to help small and medium-sized enterprises that are unable to raise capital through IPOs to have the alternative of using token sales.
The taskforce had earlier announced its proposal for a Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC), which would facilitate financial inclusion and low-cost transactions.
With 90 percent of Kenyans already using mobile money, credit cards, and bank transfers to make transactions, adding a CBDC to the existing digital economy could be a seamless process.
To introduce a digital currency in Kenya, the taskforce acknowledges that the country first requires a regulatory sandbox and the tokenisation of government fiscal operations.
Another proposed strategy is the tokenisation of the economy which could help to solve unemployment issues. The unemployment rate in Kenya is one of the highest in the world and the taskforce envisions a platform where work is exchanged for tokens to tackle this issue. Service providers will use the platform to build a work marketplace, store data, and manage transactions.
The Ajira Program, an initiative created to enable more Kenyans to work online, will adopt this proposed strategy. Using the Ethereum platform, Ajira will offer inter-person and inter-service settlements and payments. The initial stage of creating the Ajira platform is ongoing. A flagship service called Ajira Machine Learning (AML) is currently running on this platform. The AI-based service links crowd workers to digital tasks.
AML offers human language interfaces in African languages and pays people for teaching the AI to translate these languages.
The Chairman of the blockchain taskforce, Bitange Ndemo, had mentioned in an interview with BitcoinAfrica.io the need to tokenise Kenya’s economy. In addition, he had observed the importance of helping Kenyans to understand this process.
Target Implementation Areas
Some of the target implementation areas for blockchain and AI include the Ministry of Lands, Huduma Centres where important documents are issued, and the Ministry of Transport.
In the Ministry of Lands, illegally duplicated title deeds are a common issue. With blockchain technology, the land titling process will become transparent and secure.
Moreover, the blockchain will enable Kenya to build an efficient public service delivery system where digitised documents are sharable between various government offices and where Kenyans can trace the payments they make for services.
The Ministry of Transport can build a public transport model based on a sharing economy. This model is then built on a blockchain to ensure that all relevant stakeholders in the transport sector are part-owners and that everyone benefits.
“The Organisation would determine which participants would form part of the networked nodes that would run the validation software as well as the consensus mechanism. Typically, the network of participating nodes would include stakeholders with specific roles and mandates within the ministry and across the transport sector,” the report reads.
The taskforce believes that the proposed strategies and solutions in this report will propel Kenya’s economic development. Additionally, the ICT CS Joe Mucheru illustrates his commitment to have the entire contents of the report executed and to gain the backing of all stakeholders in making these recommendations a reality.
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