Tech Talk: Micro Finance

We are diving into the world of: Microfinance, Microloans, & Microcredit.

To properly approach this topic, let us start by explaining the concept of financial inclusion.

Financial Inclusion

Financial inclusion is defined as the availability & equality of opportunities to access financial services.

Basically, access to basic financial services like, banking, loans, checking & savings accounts.

Today, over 69% of our global adult population has access to a bank account or some sort of mobile money provider. This is a statistic the world bank is extremely proud of.

“In the past few years, we have seen great strides around the world in connecting people to formal financial services. Financial inclusion allows people to save for family needs, borrow to support a business, or build a cushion against an emergency. Having access to financial services is a critical step towards reducing both poverty and inequality, and new data on mobile phone ownership and internet access show unprecedented opportunities to use technology to achieve universal financial inclusion.”

-Former World Bank President Jim Yong Kim

The World Bank appears to care about world finances. Setting up goals like; end extreme poverty by decreasing the percentage of people living on less than $1.90 a day to no more than 3%, & promote shared prosperity by fostering the income growth of the bottom 40% for every country by 2030.

Microfinance

Microfinance is a term used to describe financial services, such as loans, savings, insurance & fund transfers offered to entrepreneurs, small businesses or individuals who lack access to traditional banking services.

Microfinance is an age old concept. In past history, farmers would take loans from banks to purchase supplies for an upcoming season, with an agreement to give payment after goods are sold at market.

In recent times, micro financing has allowed property owners in Uganda update rental properties, aiding in a 30% rise in housing satisfaction. An unintended drop in infant illness was also observed by women who took micro loans to improve housing conditions.

With even more people having access to mobile phones, the availability of mobile banking is reducing the number of “unbanked” people across Africa. As the number of mobile accounts continues to increase, a new type of financial network is beginning to take shape across the continent.

The true value in a financial network as such is in the market opportunity & liquidity that will now be available to Pan-Afro people; black people.

How does Microfinance affect Pan-Afro people?

This new type of financial network will require new service offerings & tailor-made solutions for a new class of customer; a customer that has always been at the table, but is just now getting a service. A financial system that is to satisfy the needs of Pan-Afro people cannot be akin to any currently functioning financial system, although analogous functions will exist.

In 2002, researchers documented naturally occuring exchanges in Uganda, Botswana & Ghana. People were using airtime as a proxy for money transfer.

Kenyans were transferring airtime to their relatives or friends who were then using or reselling it as a form of currency.  From this research MCel introduced the first authorised airtime credit swapping – a precursor step towards M-Pesa.

Today M-Pesa is a branchless banking service; customers can deposit & withdraw money from a decentralized network of agents with airtime resellers & retail outlets acting as banking agents within their communities.

It is a real-time decentralized banking system that has evolved to meet the needs of people, not attempting to mold them into “ideal users”.

M-Pesa has been leveraged to create micro credit opportunities for M-Kopa Solar system financing. As we highlighted in a previous Tech Talk, M-Kopa Solar is able to provide micro credit financing opportunities for their solar powered devices, with payments that are similar to  the amount otherwise spent on kerosene or diesel.

This Microcredit model could be applied to other tools needed by those in developing areas.

For example; if farmers were able to purchase electric farm tools that were adapted to be charged by their previously financed solar panels, a strong foundation could be developed to permanently alleviate lack.

If down the line a guild of farmers were able to leverage their numbers & past credit history to purchase a tractor to increase production, shouldn’t they be allowed the finance opportunity?

An Idea

In an age of new financial opportunities in new financial markets, built with tools of this information age, the diaspora needs a Peer-to-Peer lending platform that allows users with a mobile phone connection participate in this new form market.

With the development of blockchain & cryptocurrency technology, currency can now be developed for specific purposes –farm tokens for the purchase of farm supplies can be generated in proportion to amount available for lending for farming supplies.

Debts can be packaged & traded. Funds can be created. Companies could even go public & a stock market can be developed to allow international investment & development, connecting this decentralized financial network to the global financial network like never before.

To Conclude

Last year Nigerians in diaspora remitted $25billion to Nigeria, Senegal & Ghana $2.2billion to their respective nations. Africans already have the funds to fix African problems. A peer-to-peer lending group tailored to the needs of Africans in diaspora with funds to lend, & Africans in continent in need of funding would provide value to Pan-Afro people worldwide.

Afrofuturism pt 2

Just like that!

We are back!

With a part 2,of our series on Afrofuturism.

Quick Recap!

img_5644

Afrofuturism is the projection of afro-centered themes in popular culture. This can be achieved using cultural aesthetics like Adebayo Oke-Lawal & Orange Culture; the fashion house. In science & technology like; Dr. Dora Nkem Akinyli or in literature & history; Okot p’Bitek.

We spoke on the digital divide & its relationship with people of African descent; Negros.

Why do so few African Americans write science fiction, when in fact their real lives are close encounters with the other? – the stranger in a strange land” was question posed.

Today, in part 2, we will be discussing the promise of the internet’s ability to connect everyone everywhere.

Map-Web-Banner-red-no-logo.png

The good old Information Agearguably 1970 to present– is often sold as the new frontier in human thought & development. Old prejudices seemed have dissapated, our kneejerk intial skepticism subdued. This digital paradigm shift insists that the hangups of the physical world, would no longer have an effect on us.

People of the world are now free to innovate from the shared knowledge base that is the internet.

giphy

Taking things a step further, if one does not utilize this resource, they deemed archaic or difficult & not trying to keep up the times.

We know that the path to log online is different for everyone, everywhere.

The digital divide oversimplified is simply that; not all wifi connections are created equal. This means an older cell phone that won’t support Apple’s latest software update, becomes troublesome when you need to download the latest security app.

& with most services today;

if you don’t login, then there’s no service.

giphy (1).gif

One could argue that the general negro population of planet earth has an overall bad information connection?
We think so!

Is this a new problem?

We don’t think so!

split.gif

Throughout history there have been several robust systems designed to throttle the exchange of information in negro communities. This isn’t new information. W.E.B. Dubois theory on Double Consciousness even addresses this duality. The truth is negros have been HYPER aware of this gap in reality for some time. The mental space of the negro has been forced to evolve & support various social identities & social norms. While futhermore constantly pressured to share native Afro-BLACK-culture with the world. “Hospitality” –or being taken advantage of– at its finest.

Where does that leave us?

A group of people constantly expected to upload our dances unto youtube, share our songs on soundcloud & sacrifice our stories for appropriation in film at another date?
How do we balance this exchange?

Watch out for Part 3.

Introduction to AfroFuturism: 1

On this week’s edition of Tech Talk,  we will be exposing you to the concept of AfroFuturism. This is an introduction to AfroFuturism.

What is AfroFuturism?

Well here’s the gist of it;  AfroFuturism is the projection of African centered themes into pop culture. With that being said, aside from the phenomenal record shattering black film Black Panther, what other art, movies, music or media could you find depicting the culture of melanated peoples in a future tense?
Afrofuturism is a cultural aesthetic, philosophy of science, and philosophy of history that explores the developing intersection of African/African American Diaspora culture with technology. It combines elements of science fiction, historical fiction, fantasy, Afrocentrism and magic realism with non-Western cosmologies in order to critique the present-day dilemmas of black people and to interrogate and re-examine historical events. wikipedia
Seems like an easy enough concept to grasp right? No, Well then don’t stress it because this is exactly why you are here. The term “AfroFuturism” was officially coined by Mark Dery in 1994 [from Dery’s 1993 book Flame Wars].
The Afrofuturist rendition of music was first explored by Sun Ra in the late 1950’s. Sun Ra, –Le Sony’r Ra– was born and raised in Birmingham, Alabama. Throughout his musical career Ra experimented with cosmic~space jazz music. He was leader of “The Arkestra“;  a dynamic group of musicians he often performed shows with.  Born in 1914, in Alabama, Sun Ra is considered an OG in the Movement. Check out his movie: Space is the Place (1972) a 85 minute science fiction movie that was arguably the first popular Film displaying Afrofuturist themes.
Cica 1990 Mark Drey currates an  interview discussing the lack of a lense from which to  consume AfroFuturist science fiction in “Black to the Future
Why do so few African Americans write science fiction, a genre whose close encounters with the Other–the stranger in a strange land–would seem uniquely suited to the concerns of African-American novelists? Mark Dery- Black to the Future: Interviews with Samuel R. Delany, Greg Tate, and Tricia Rose
We like to believe conversations such as the one above helped birth authors  new age Afrofuturism authors like Tomi Adeyemi, who wrote the first book in the trilogy sequel;  “Children of Blood and Bone“. Haven’t read it yet? Fox is already adapting it into a motion picture!
Alondra Nelson

Sociologist Alondra Nelson’s  essay “Future Texts”  futhered the concept of an advanced Africa.

Alondra Nelson is an African American author and academic, President of the Social Science Research Council (SSRC). An award-winning social scientist, & also professor of Sociology at Columbia University in the City of New York for the people in the back.

so in other words, she’s an expert on these things. In “Technicolor: Race, Technology, and Everyday Life” Nelson & Tu, explore the relationship between race and technology. Alondra Nelson addresses the digital divide in race & impact on dreams of an Afrocentric Future. Listen her down below because she describes it best.
Check her out on YouTube This ends Part 1 on AfroFuturism. We hope you’re following on train of thought Watch out for Part 2 & never forget;  We Told You