Session: Fintech at the Frontier: Empowering Financially Excluded Communities with Blockchain
Most women entrepreneurs in Africa don't have access to formal finance. Many don't have access to grid electricity and are left behind by the digital revolution. It's got even worse with COVID, restricting movements further. Strong social groups form to manage collective savings and collaborative agriculture, but it's hard for them to use this trust to reach markets or formal financing, leaving them vulnerable to middle men and extortionate local lenders. I discuss how technology has built access to finance for women entrepreneurs, and the challenges and economic implications. Then I discuss how technology like blockchain is helping to create market access for these groups and entrepreneurs, helping them to grow better crops and reach export markets without needing to be dependent on banks. I present data from our work in Mozambique, Nigeria and elsewhere on the impact this can have on people's lives.
- Blockchain is an enabling technology to build the distributed economy
- Women entrepreneurs, given the opportunity, build sustainable communities and intergenerational opportunities
- Rural Africa is full of largely untapped opportunities and new technology opens out these markets
- The world needs Africa to keep producing food more efficiently
- Diverse teams are essential to building technology for diverse customers
Sofie built global banking systems and businesses for eight major international banks in 60 countries worth over USD 1bn for nearly 30 years, but saw that banks couldn't reach the people who need help to grow businesses the most, and hence hiveonline was born. hiveonline is building better economies for communities of financially excluded African entrepreneurs.
Sofie advises NGOs, International Financial Institutions, central banks and the UN’s Digital Finance Task Force. She is the author of research papers including Blockchain: Gateway to Sustainability Linked Bonds and The Next Generation Humanitarian Blockchain. Sofie is Chair of the Edinburgh Futures Institute FI and Fintech advisory board and holds an MSc in Informatics. Sofie’s second book, with Rob Allen, Fintech Revolution (Palgrave Macmillan, 2018) was named “One of the Best Fintech Books of All Time” (Book Authority). Sofie has been included in the Top 100 Women in Fintech two years running, is on Innovate Finance’s Women in Fintech Powerlist and was a 2020 Fellow in the Cartier Women’s Initiative.