Africa’s women: Getting a head start in fintech

Fintech Industry and African Women

Are the African blockchain and Fin-tech industry ready for African women? Is the African woman already demanding her voice be heard in the African blockchain and fintech community? Yes, it is, and yes, her voice is being heard. This article sheds light on how African women can be supported to take up opportunities being presented within the Fin-tech Industry, specifically cryptocurrency. 

Let’s start by defining Fin-tech, blockchain, and cryptocurrency to better understand. Webster’s Dictionary defines Fin-tech as products and companies that employ newly developed digital and online technologies in the banking and financial services industries. Investopedia defines blockchain as a distributed database shared among the nodes of a computer network, and cryptocurrency, crypto-currency, or crypto as a digital currency designed to work as a medium of exchange through a computer network not reliant on any central authority. 

The Chain analysis Crypto Adoption Index offers a peculiar insight into the performance of the crypto world in several nations. In a report released by Chainalysis, a software company based in New York, Africa was the smallest crypto-economy, having received $105.6 billion worth of cryptocurrency between July 2020 and June 2021. Countries like Nigeria, South Africa, Kenya, and Tanzania made it the top 20 of the Chainalysis Global Adoption Index.

Chainalysis mirrors Crypto adoption through the lenses of the regular man as opposed to the wealthy. 50% of the world’s population is female. In 2017, only 5-7% of cryptocurrency users/investors were women. However, this number has risen by 160% in the last four years, and its biggest boost was seen in 2021. This is a relatively lower figure considering the opportunities present within the cryptocurrency space. The fintech space offers numerous opportunities for African women. The opportunities include:

  • Investing and trading in cryptocurrencies.
  • Creation of trading platforms, P2P platforms.
  • Capacity building in crypto trading, bitcoin data mining and Cyber security in cryptocurrencies.
  • Development of training materials and curriculum.
  • Taking up blockchain engineering and bitcoin developer-related careers.
  • Owning start-up Labs and Hubs where developers and engineers can come up with new ways of utilising blockchain technology.
  • Career opportunities in bitcoin mining.
  • Creation of safe spaces where women can trade without cyber threats.
  • Taking up decision-making roles in cryptocurrency laws and regulations.
  • Creation of associations in Fin-tech and cryptocurrencies spaces.
  • Holding events, conferences and seminars that bring together women in Fin-tech.

How, then, do we equip our African Women to fit into Fin-tech, especially the cryptocurrencies spaces? First of all, increase facilities where women can access loans or capital. The money can be used either as capital or investment money in cryptocurrencies. Statistic shared by Kiva.org shows that 27% of all loans worldwide are given to women, while 46% are given to men. 

Other Small Business Administration (SBA) statistics show that only 18% of business loans were given to women. This shows that women have lower access to credit facilities than their male counterparts. What could be the problem or limitations women face in accessing loan facilities, and how can these challenges be overcome? The first problem, most women lack basic knowledge of loan facilities, donor funding, and negotiation power. 

Banks and micro-lenders can overcome the problem by carrying training and field days to enlighten women about the various opportunities available. The second problem is the lack of proper documentation to allow them to secure the funds. This can be overcome by ensuring that the documents required for loan access are listed when giving loan request forms. Secondly, women should be encouraged to register their documents to access proper loans. 

The second way to equip African women is to create peer learning and training opportunities in Bitcoin data mining, Engineering and Cyber security with their male counterparts and also developers in Silicon Valley. This will not only upscale the women developer’s skills but allow them to learn in spaces where their opinions can be heard. Thirdly, African women can also be equipped to join associations and groups that might promote the adoption of blockchain and cryptocurrency technology in Africa, either as members or leaders. 

Women can join as single individuals or as women groups, “chamas”, Women Microfinance groups and Saccos. Fourthly, African women need to keep up with the ever-changing technology, i.e. buy smartphones, download mobile apps that allow them to transact virtually, and pay for goods and services via P2P (Peer 2 Peer) payments, e.g. PayPal, Venmo and Cash App. Lastly, attend Conferences and Seminars aimed towards Capacity building and offer training on blockchain and Fin-tech. What challenges do women face when trying to fit into cryptocurrency communities or Fin-tech spaces? 

  • Security and lack of regulations within block chain make women venerable.
  • Blockchain and cryptocurrencies are complex, and hence most women aren’t able to fully appreciate their benefits
  • Third parties and middle persons easily con and take advantage of women by sharing misinformation on trading.

It’s good to note that as much as there is complexity within Fin-tech, cyptocurrencies, African women are trend-setting in the industry. In an article in IT news on February 2022, written by Jenna Deport, The top 10 women in Africa to watch within the blockchain and bitcoin space are; but not limited to: 

  • Alakanani Itireleng (Botswana)
  • Yale Soko (Zambia/South Africa)
  • Monica Singer (South Africa)
  • Sonya Kuhnel (South Africa)
  • Ojuedeire Doris (Nigeria)
  • Imen Ayari (Tunisia)
  • Roselyn Gicira Mwangi (Kenya)
  • Naomi Snyman (South Africa)
  • Michelle Chivunga Nsunsumuco (Zambia)
  • Olayinka Odeniran (Nigeria)

In conclusion, the cryptocurrency space offers numerous opportunities that we, as African Women, must wake up and grab so that we can be counted as champions of the African economy’s progression through the adoption of the available Fintech products.

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