In this article, I am exploring how digital fundraising for charitable purpose could be applied in developing countries like Burkina Faso.
In a recent Medium post, Joe Waltman, the new Executive Director at GiveCrypto.org explained the work trial on distributing crypto currencies as a new financial system to empower people globally. Regardless of geographical, cultural differences and other challenges relating to technology (quality of the internet and devices) the author was able to distribute currencies and to have some visible evidence of impact on people involved. This has inspired me, and I started questioning myself how to take some advantage of this opportunity to change the lives of vulnerable people in my home country Burkina Faso.
The main development challenges in Burkina Faso
In a previous article on the success of mobile banking in Burkina Faso I presented the context about this country. Since its independence in 1960, this former French colony is still facing a lot of development issues. Indeed, ranked 4th world gold producer with an estimated population of 18.6 million inhabitants in 2016, this sub-Saharan Africa country is still ranked among the poorest in the world (183 out of 188 countries in 2015 according to the UNDP HDI). The economy is heavily reliant on agriculture, with close to 80% of the active population employed in the sector. Cotton is the country’s most important cash crop, while gold exports have gained importance in recent years. Malnutrition remains endemic, with a prevalence of acute malnutrition of 7.6% in 2016. Youth literacy rate which stood at 28.7% in 2010, remains lower than the average rate of 71% for Sub-Saharan Africa. The poverty rate in 2014 was 40.1%. Politically, terrorist attacks are occurring in an increasingly difficult security context for the entire subregion in general, and Burkina Faso in particular (World Bank, 2018).
Over half-century later, Burkina Faso is still poor. Is it not necessary to rethink courageously the approach about poverty, the financing system or how to target the most vulnerable? By all means.
GiveCrypto in Burkina Faso: illustration
In this part, we will try to illustrate how crypto currencies could be distributed in Burkina Faso trough the Givecrypto project or other channel for charitable purpose.
To make a quick refresher, GiveCrypto is known to be a non-profit that distributes cryptocurrency to people living in poverty. In other words, it is an aggregator of Crypto Philanthropists. People who wish to collaborate could donate crypto currency which will distributed to impact people lives.
In terms of development financing, the main financial donations come from other governments (bilateral structure), multilateral organisations (multilateral), international non-governmental organisations (indirect structure) and from private initiatives (charity based). Banks are involved in all the process to move these funds. But transparency and efficiency when it comes to managing the funds are what make donors not want to contribute again.
Ethereum Community Action for Africa is a social enterprise based in Burkina Faso which support local charities to access funds to implement their projects. Its mission is to facilitate transactions for funders, investors, public or private users who aim to expend Ethereum to develop Africa. It was initiated and managed by a group of young professionals from different background and countries including myself as a Mid junior expert in the development industry. Among its main activities, there is the promotion of the use of crypto currency like Ethers more specifically but not only. To do this, we have developed different approaches that I am going to list:
- Identifying and supporting a youth association working on I.T and technologies.
Because youth is the driving force and represents a big proportion of the population, we decided to start working with them. We were already in touch with one leader of an association called ‘Association of young scientists in Burkina Faso’ since 2014. This association has been organising I.T training for young scholars across the country mainly in the capital Ouagadougou. We supported them financially by raising 10,000 EUR to organise a summer camp this year (2018) including a survey to assess the level of participants as well as their interest on social media and the type of phone that they use. Even though all statistics are not available yet, we are on the way to develop and adapt a training content on blockchains, Ethereum and the functioning of cryptocurrency for the future. This experience would also allow us to better understand how to expand the use of cryptocurrency by population even in rural areas.
- Identifying different ways to make cryptocurrency useable locally
This strategy is particularly challenging considering the poor knowledge that people have about digital money. However, the use of mobile banking in Burkina Faso is rising as I explained in one previous article. We were also happy to know and meet some organised or private users of digital money. Some are buying cryptocurrency to get some knowledge on trading, others are just doing it for curiosity. Whatever was their motivation, all the participants had at least one account in official digital platforms (Coinbase, localbitcoin, etc.). We were then able to conduct some tests on selling cryptocurrencies. We sent some amount of crypto and we made sure that every participant received it on their wallet. The payment could be done cash, via mobile payment or in other nature agreed with the receiver.
This experience confirmed that distributing crypto currency in Burkina Faso for charitable purpose is possible.
Frist step: A local social enterprise submit a development project to GiveCrypto
Second step: If the project is approved, GiveCrypto send crypto currency to the local social enterprise explaining how beneficiaries should be targeted
Third step: Depending on the nature of impact per beneficiary, the local social enterprise find a strategy to make the funds useable and impactful
Fourth step: The local social enterprise conduct a regular monitoring and report on the change in people lives.
This article has tried to see how GiveCrypto.org could work in Burkina Faso. I presented the pressing development issues encountered in this country using the world bank database. It is alarming to notice that despite a lot of socio economical efforts, the level of poverty is still high. I questioned myself how to take some advantage of distributing crypto currencies to fight against it wherever this is possible. After conducting two informal experiences with individuals and local organisations within the community, the results look positive. It is possible to distribute crypto currency in Burkina Faso for charitable purpose, through some trusted existing users like the social enterprise listed above. Some biased factors may be present during the experience but it opens perspectives in terms of efficiency, innovation and good governance.