Newsweek’s first-ever Blockchain Impact Awards recognize entrepreneurs and developers who are applying blockchain tech for social good.
“Our mission is to spotlight the promise of their disruptive ideas, drawing on Newsweek’s nearly century-long heritage of covering the world and the forces and movements that shape it.”
Blockchain is the underlying technology of Bitcoin and its 1000+ crypto offspring.
Recipients of the 2019 Newsweek Blockchain Impact Awards
- SimplyVital Health – leading the charge to revamp the healthcare industry
- BitLumens – building a decentralized, blockchain-based micro power-grid for the 1.2 billion people without access to electricity and banking
- Chronicled – recording all of the transactions that take place as pharmaceuticals travel from factory to container to shelf
- Prescrypto – providing a blockchain-based infrastructure that can create, send and track electronic prescriptions for doctors, clinics and pharmacies
- Grassroots Economics – challenging the idea that banks should have a monopoly on currency.
One of five recipients, Kenya-based nonprofit Grassroots Economics is helping people in East Africa create blockchain-based community currencies as an alternative to unstable national currency.
Writes blockchain entrepreneur and selection panelist Amber Baldet in Newsweek,
“Transactions in Grassroots currencies bear no resemblance to the speculative nature of cryptocurrency trading. Around 40 percent of the activity comes from people buying food – giving their families three meals a day, often for the first time. Because there are no fees and transaction costs, purchases can be as small as a single tomato. Schools accept community currencies as fees, in turn allowing them to enroll more children and pay teachers. Health clinics accept these currencies for all types of care.”
Congratulations to @grassEcon for winning the @Newsweek Blockchain Social Impact Awards! They create web-of-trust based local money that decouples communities throughout Africa from unstable national currency; now moving to @Bancor. https://t.co/vJdsNAAE1G
— Amber ☘️ (@AmberBaldet) February 21, 2019
Kenya’s community-backed currencies provide stability and a hedge against cash amidst political uncertainty and sharp price fluctuations.
In Zimbabwe, hyperinflation has decimated the national currency. According to local news outlet Sunday Times,
“Zimbabwe’s central bank began trading a sharply discounted replacement currency on Friday, attempting to ease a cash crunch that has hobbled the economy and plunged millions deeper into poverty.”
While Kenya’s currency has not suffered as much as Zimbabwe’s, issuance of new currencies by the government have affected the value of its national currency.
In addition to manipulated fiat, there are reports of fake foreign currency rackets worth billions of Kenyan shillings.
The region rarely shies away from innovating in the face of necessity. M-Pesa, operated by African telecommunications company Safaricom, created a system that allows phone minutes to be used as a proxy for cash. The region’s positive reception to M-Pesa supports a wider push toward a digital economy and mobile payments built on blockchain technology that offer greater transparency, more stability and reduced manipulation.
Grassroots Economics is preparing to expand into other African regions such as Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The use cases for blockchain-based community currencies and cryptocurrencies in these regions are driven mainly by the need for financial inclusion and the reduction of currency risks.