Blockchain to empower African farming
“While technology is important, it’s what we do with it that truly matters.” Muhammad Yunus, Bangladeshi entrepreneur and Nobel prize winner.
Fintech commodity trader Block Commodities, in a joint venture with FinComEco, announced a strategic partnership this morning with Berlin-based startup OST. The collaboration aims to assist the progress of the launch of OST token, to be implemented in their first project in Uganda. It will serve as a consumer token in their commodity ecosystem, used by farmers to redistribute profits from the sale of their surplus crops. The OST utility token enables any website, app or marketplace to easily launch a branded token and integrate it into their business.
The OST token is part of FACES (Feed Africa Commodities Eco-System), where farmers can exchange the tokens for a range of services, from medical to educational. Block and FinComEco are engaged in building relationships with local vendors and institutions to open up the scope of FACES and provide farmers with wider possibilities.
“OST enables any company or project to deploy branded cryptocurrency tokens backed by the market value of OST, on scalable utility block chains” comments OST founder and CEO Jason Goldberg on the potential of OST and the OST token.
The blockchain revolution is crossing borders, reaching the developing world to bring growth and empowerment to populations in an unprecedented way. Block is creating a blockchain-based ecosystem to support African farming and give more freedom to farmers who have until now been held back by financial exclusion.
The sub-Saharan region tends to have fewer fungible currencies, but higher interest rates, which outside agencies base on perceptions of Africa rather than its realities. This, with the region’s need for secure relationships to thrive, as well as its recent history of rapid technology take-up, means that Africa is likely to see the fastest blockchain growth” comments Block Executive Chairman Chris Cleverly.
The addition of OST token comes to provide these farmers with more opportunities for the exchange of goods and services, after the sale of their crops, without being subjected to enormous interest rates.
“This facilitates increasing consumer demand as incomes rise across a whole range of goods and services. In turn, this leads to a positive social impact” said FinComEco CEO Hirander Misra about what the OST token means for smallholder farmers.
OST is the latest key partner within Block’s network, building on the current inclusive financial platform led by the leading blockchain-powered financial services platform in Africa — Wala — and supported by the only blockchain private equity fund Swarm, with a specific security investment coin.
Block’s pilot project is starting in Uganda with Wala, where it is providing cryptocurrency loans to 50,000 smallholder farmers to enable their purchase of fertlisers and increase agricultural output. The project is the first of its kind and allows farmers to transact and cash in and out with the Dala token at over 100,000 merchants throughout Africa.
“Dala is a key partner in our mission to fight the big African problem of financial inclusion. Their financial platform addresses the lack of access to financial services via blockchain based currencies that allow farmers to circumvent the current inefficient system. This is this basis for African growth” commented Chris Cleverly.
“These partnerships showcase the innovative possibilities being created with blockchain technology to help empower the 3.5 billion ‘unbanked’ and underserved consumers worldwide,” said Tricia Martinez, director of the Dala Foundation and founder and CEO of Wala to Disrupt Africa. “In agriculture, retail, enterprise and other industries, partnerships like these are helping us move consumers throughout Africa closer to financial prosperity, eliminating the traditional gap between consumers and financial service providers.”
Another partner announced recently is Swarm Fund, which enabling the development of the Farm Coin, a security investment token that is providing the regulated infrastructure needed to maximize production while facilitating technology to transform Africa.
Block’s ecosystem incorporates all stages of the supply chain, from suppliers to vendors and consumers. Each stage is being facilitated by the different tokens, enabled by Block’s partners. Their final objective is to empower African farmers, providing them with more resources and increasing independence.
Watch below the special interview with Stefania Barbaglio and Chris Cleverly on the future of agri-tech in Africa and the role of blockchain to increase financial inclusion in developing countries.