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How blockchain empowers women in developing economies

How is blockchain improving financial inclusion in African countries?

Access to high-end smartphones and fast internet is not a reality in many villages across Africa. Blockchain projects offer solutions to overcome these hardships.

Project Kotani Pay in Kenya allows users to off-ramp from crypto using a text-based platform on a basic mobile that does not require internet connectivity. Neither a bank account is mandatory since the platform functions as a decentralized, borderless application. This makes financial services offered via blockchain accessible to the unbanked population without smartphones or internet access. Kotani Pay’s pilot programs have been successful in helping 15,000 beneficiaries.

Interestingly, one of its pilot programs served a 97% female population, enabling them to receive a universal basic income of $1 a day. Per Kotani Pay, some of these women went on to spend these funds to set up small vegetable gardens or run small businesses to supplement their household incomes.

Friendlier and easy-to-use solutions similar to Kotani Pay are also evolving in other African nations as well. Another similar initiative is Project LEAF in Rwanda.

Project LEAF, supported by UNICEF, supports borderless international transactions on a regular phone. Many of its users are refugee women and their families from the Democratic Republic of the Congo who are now able to receive funds from families residing in other countries.

Does tokenization help women to access credit?

Tokenization on the blockchain helps turn things like a house, an antique or even a farm into digital assets. This has opened new avenues for monetization in Kenyan villages. 

ATMs, banks and credit cards are financial enablers that are a seamless part of an individual’s everyday life, but for many in Kenya’s villages, this is far from reality. This is where Grassroots Economics is bringing a fresh change using blockchain and cryptocurrencies.

Grassroots Economics, a blockchain-based initiative in Kenya supported by UNICEF’s Innovation Fund, generates opportunities for access to credit in low-income areas by creating tokens called Community Inclusion Currencies (CICs). Villagers in a harsh crisis usually do not have cash or access to liquidity or credit; however, what they do have is crops, cattle, goods or labor services. These are the resources that can be monetized via tokenization.

CICs are tokens backed by real goods and services in a specific community, village or town, such as the work of carpenters, cooks, midwives, etc. Kenyan villagers can use the CIC tokens to secure a line of credit, backed by their own resources.

How is blockchain changing the coffee supply chain in Rwanda?

The use of blockchain technology in coffee plantations has resulted in better traceability in supply chains, increasing income and empowering female farmers.

One of Rwanda’s most significant export products is coffee, which is extensively sold in Germany. Despite this, small plantation-holder families frequently struggle to make a livelihood from their coffee farming because of low yields, their inability to get a desired market price, or their inability to manage production costs. Female farmers also work extensively on these coffee plantations and are often underpaid.

The International Women’s Coffee Alliance has partnered with blockchain programs and initiatives to create scalable and transferable supply chain solutions for tracing coffee produced by Rwandan female farmers.

This brings transparency about the origin of the coffee source to help command a better market price in the export market and ensure that the female farmers get their fair share of the revenue from the subsequent sales.

Making supply chains more transparent in Rwanda using blockchain

The success has led to similar partnerships of farmers, plantations and coffee growth alliances with multinational conglomerates like Nestle. In 2020, Nestle started exploring the blockchain supply chain and launched a limited edition blockchain coffee beans pilot project from three origins — Brazil, Rwanda and Colombia.

How does Propy empower realtors with blockchain?

Propy uses blockchain technology to simplify the real estate home purchase transaction process. It was selected as a technology pioneer by the World Economic Forum in 2021.

Propy is a Silicon Valley, blockchain-based real estate startup built on the Ethereum network by Natalia Karayaneva. Propy introduced smart contracts and automation to help brokers, agents and real estate companies migrate to a paperless deal-closing process.

The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics report on Occupational Employment and Wages from May 2021 estimated that there are 175,920 real estate agents currently employed in the United States. Interestingly, the sector is inclusive, as 65% of these real estate agents are women, many of whom are from diverse backgrounds and ethnicities, such as Hispanics, Latinos and Asians.

Propy holds the potential to empower these female real estate agents to close deals faster, reduce fraud, and ensure transparency in property rights and title transfers. As Propy expands into developing economies, it will make real estate records on the blockchain more accessible for women globally.

Will blockchain safeguard property rights in Honduras?

Honduras, an underdeveloped country in Central America, strives to solve property rights issues in the country by using blockchain. 

The ability to prove land ownership is a crucial safeguard for those whose livelihoods depend on farming and cattle. The World Bank and other key international organizations have repeatedly underlined the need for clear property rights and improved property governance and record maintenance.

Property rights are thus recognized as an important step toward the autonomy and development of women. Yet land registration systems are frequently unreliable and susceptible to corruption in underdeveloped nations, such as Honduras, leaving farmers, including female farmers and their families, open to unauthorized land and property rights violations.

Factom, a U.S.-based blockchain startup, partnered with the government of Honduras to develop a blockchain land registry system. This key idea attempts to stop land title fraud and uplift the disadvantaged portion of the population. However, for various political reasons, the project has been halted, but it has the potential to bring much-needed transformation.

Does blockchain create career avenues for women in India?

Poised in the world market as a technology-first economy, Indian firms are rapidly investing in blockchain technologies to create new job opportunities.

Cryptocurrency exchange WazirX on March 2, 2023, published its survey of 400 female crypto holders in India and concluded an uptrend among women entering crypto investing.

However, this uptrend is not limited solely to investing. Women in India are actively joining career opportunities in Web3, crypto and blockchain platforms as creators, builders, influencers, founders, developers and more. Blockchain-related jobs are opening new and much-needed job avenues for the young demographic in this fast-growing decentralized web world.

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