Posts

Moyee Coffee is Helping Farmers in Ethiopia
The days of poor coffee farmers in Ethiopia receiving underpayment for hard work may soon be over as Moyee Coffee is helping farmers in the country. Moyee, a Dutch coffee brand, is transforming supply chains with blockchain. Moyee begins this process by creating unique digital identities for its coffee producers. Next, it sets prices at 20 percent over the market rate. Buyers can view these prices and choose to support the livelihood of farmers in Ethiopia. The coffee company is also creating an app that allows customers to tip farmers. These business decisions are what make Moyee the first multinational coffee company based in Ethiopia.

Why Coffee is Such a Tough Business

People consume billions of cups of coffee every day and the coffee industry is worth almost $100 billion, yet the producers of the coffee bean are among the world’s poor. Approximately 90 million people who help produce coffee live on less than $2 a day. To put that into perspective, most Americans spend more than $2 a day on a cup of coffee.

A lot of the problems associated with coffee farming and poverty have to do with climate change and price fluctuation. Climate change has altered growing seasons making it difficult to produce good quality crops. Species of coffee are dying out because of deforestation and soon farmlands may become unsuitable to grow coffee. Prices fluctuate often because of supply and demand. The problem is that when climate change damages crop yield, prices can be low which means farmers earn less than they should for their product.

How Blockchain Increases Profits for Farmers in Ethiopia

This is when Fairchain comes in. Fairchain is a version of blockchain that Moyee created. It is a digital supply chain that is completely transparent. The supply chain tracks every transaction from the coffee bean to the coffee cup. This allows blockchain to cut out the middleman and help control price fluctuations. When the supply chain is transparent, people and companies can see how much each chain in the line received to keep prices fair. This is what helps farmers when prices fluctuate dramatically because they get a fair price even when demand is low.

How Moyee Coffee is Helping Farmers

Moyee gives coffee farmers mobile wallets, tap cards, identification numbers and barcodes that allow them to receive payments directly. Moyee also allows customers who buy its coffee to support farmers by using a QR code. The code allows customers to tip the farmer or fund small programs that aid farmers like microloans or training.

The Moyee Brand has a growing impact in Ethiopia by using blockchain to increase profits for coffee farmers. The use of technology has allowed for supply chains to become more transparent. Transparency is key because customers are often unaware of where their product is coming from and how much the producer receives. The increase in profits can help farmers in a variety of ways. Their product yields could increase and they could live a more sustainable lifestyle. Middlemen used to take advantage of farmers and cut their profits, but Moyee is changing that and hopefully, it will serve as a model for other multinational corporations.

Gaurav Shetty
Photo: Flickr

Technologies that can help end povertyDespite gloomy predictions for the future among pessimists, humanity develops the tools for a brighter tomorrow. At the Lisbon Web Summit on November 6, 2017, physicist Stephen Hawking discussed the pros and cons of artificial intelligence. Though Hawking is aware of how new technologies threaten jobs, he also believes that such advances can alleviate disease, global warming and poverty. Artificial intelligence isn’t the only gadget in development. Here are four technologies that can help end poverty, provided they’re used the right way.

  1. Blockchain
    Blockchain records transactions made in cryptocurrency, such as Bitcoin. These ledgers are publicly available. Brian Singer, a William Blair partner, predicted in 2015 that access to a cheap and transparent payment system through Blockchain would serve emerging markets well. How have Bitcoin and Blockchain helped the world so far? By allowing a transparent ledger, Blockchain prevents falsified land deeds from stealing the land of small farmers. With no need for a physical building, Blockchain can save foreign aid money; through the data provided, Blockchain can optimize a developing economy. Cryptocurrency provides a small, but significant, step in helping impoverished people begin their own businesses.
  2. Smart Survey boxes
    The World Bank reported how Smart Survey boxes in Tajikistan monitor energy usage. These boxes collect data on energy quality and power outages. At first glance, Smart Survey boxes seem an unlikely candidate for technologies that can help end poverty. But having the right data in a crisis ensures that the right cure can be provided. Automated information collection leaves little room for human error and little reason to put volunteers in unsafe areas.Utz Pape, a World Bank economist, summarizes the impact of data collection on poverty: “It can help improve data quality of existing surveys, it can help to increase the frequency of data collection to complement traditional household surveys, and can also… improve our understanding of people’s behaviors.”
  3. Genetically Modified Crops
    The use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in farming has led to fiery debated in the past decade. But the results are clear. Using seeds designed to resist pests and herbicides, GMOs led to more yields, fewer applications of pesticides, and more profits for farmers, according to a study by Penn State. Stephen Hawking warned about the careless application of technology, and GMOs are no exception. The impact of GMOs on other organisms has not been well documented. But when Penn State concludes that “The technology may be more appropriate for farmers that have difficulty spraying pesticides and herbicides,” it’s easy to see how developing nations benefit from the invention.
  4. Video Games
    Though considered fun distractions in America, video games have immense teaching potential. The United Nations described an initiative in India that taught English to children through mobile phone games. A similar project, in Somalia, taught money management skills to young Somali women. The Somali mobile game project boosted job training and placement for 8,000 people, both male and female, by 2015.

All these inventions— cryptocurrency, data collection, GMOs, and video games— destroyed the world in countless science fiction novels. In the real world, they’re technologies that can help end poverty.

In some ways, the brighter tomorrow has already arrived.

– Nick Edinger

Photo: Flickr

Ethereum Blockchain in Jordan Is Changing How the United Nations Delivers Aid
Distributing aid within areas of conflict, especially those ruled by unstable authoritarian governments, has proven to be a struggle for organizations like the United Nations. These efforts are often plagued by a myriad of issues, such as the distribution of funds to individuals by relief agencies. The Ethereum blockchain in Jordan is shifting the paradigm.

Blockchain technologies, cryptocurrencies and digital banking, however, have the potential to alleviate many of these complications. On May 31, 2017, the United Nation’s World Food Programme (WFP) completed the first successful large-scale trial of the Ethereum blockchain in Jordan to distribute humanitarian aid to Syria.

In order to fully understand the tangible effects that blockchain technology has on the lives of these individuals, it is first necessary to establish a basic background of what exactly this new platform is and what it can do.

Ethereum essentially lends itself to decentralized data recording, meaning that no single person or entity owns the final ledger. Instead, everyone who participates in the network becomes part of the record keeping process.

Blockchain, the technology behind the infamous cryptocurrency Bitcoin as well as Ethereum, has many other applications past transferring money between parties. Like Bitcoin, Ethereum acts as a distributed public blockchain network. However, while Bitcoin’s main application involves peer-to-peer exchange of payments, Ethereum blockchain focuses on both cryptocurrency, called Ether, as well as deploying decentralized applications. These applications generally contain smart contracts: computer codes that facilitate the exchange of money, content, property or anything else of value.

Ethereum offers an unprecedented capacity to carry out nonspecific applications, meaning that instead of just offering peer-to-peer transfer of digital currencies, Ethereum enables the development of potentially thousands of different applications on a single platform. Additionally, hacking and fraudulent activities are virtually impossible on a decentralized network like Ethereum.

Ethereum has many widespread applications, one of which includes legal identification. With current estimates suggesting that there are 1.1 billion people around the world with no official documentation, many of whom are refugees, aid organizations struggle to provide health, financial and educational services without proper identification.

While smartphones or Internet-capable devices are an obvious access point for the identification platform, the project implemented by the WFP was built under the assumption that its beneficiaries might not have access to such luxuries. Instead, the WFP made it possible for thousands of Syrian refugees to pay with a scan of their eyes using the Ethereum blockchain in Jordan.

In this month-long trial, instead of administering funds directly to the recipients, the WFP issued unspecified amounts of cryptocurrency-based vouchers to thousands of Syrian refugees. The U.N. allocated money to the merchants of participating stores where the coupons could be redeemed, effectively cutting out the banking middlemen in the aid distribution processes. Iris recognition devices verified the identities of the refugees at the supermarket in the Azraq camp in Jordan and deducted what they spent from the total sum the WFP provided.

By the end of May 2017, the Ethereum blockchain in Jordan was successfully used to record and authenticate transfers to about 10,000 individuals. WFP consultant Alexandra Alden helped oversee the implementation of this project and stated, “All funds received by the refugees from WFP were specifically used to purchase food items such as olive oil, pasta, and lentils.”

 

The Future of Ethereum Blockchain in Jordan and Beyond

 

In terms of future expansion, the WFP intends to include upwards of 100,000 individuals in Jordan in the program as early as August 2017, with hopes of serving the entire Jordanian refugee population by the end of 2018. If this expansion proves successful, the agency will look to expand beyond Jordan to other countries in need of aid.

Additionally, companies including Accenture and Microsoft have been working to design a more comprehensive digital ID network for the U.N. using blockchain technology.

Instead of just receiving food from local merchants, this identification network will provide undocumented refugees with unique identifiers called “stamps” that authenticate services received at camps or through other agencies, such as vaccinations. This system of record keeping will be tested in the near future.

While blockchain technology has the potential to serve the rest of society in various capacities, Ethereum offers those individuals who have been forced to renounce their identities over and over again the possibility of retaining important parts of who they are.

Richa Bijlani

Photo: Flickr

Blockchain
Many people have heard about bitcoin, the cryptocurrency that has more than doubled in value over the past year. However, few are familiar with blockchain, the technology behind bitcoin. Blockchain creates a tamperproof public ledger of transactions, thus removing the need for a trusted third party between strangers. Because it is public and contains multiple nodes, the blockchain is practically impossible to corrupt. The potential applications for blockchain are promising and diverse. Blockchain could revolutionize the financial industry, as well as the healthcare sector. There are at least three ways blockchain can help the poor.

  1. Blockchain can be used to establish identity. According to UNICEF, there are more than 200 million children under the age of 5 that are unregistered. More than 80 million of these belong to the least developed countries. Lack of identification can perpetuate the cycle of poverty and increase the risk of exploitation. Children without birth certificates can be denied access to education and healthcare. Later in life, lack of identity can hinder employment or access to assistance programs. In some countries, failure to register is due to governmental red tape. Thankfully, groups like ID2020, BitNation and OneName are already working to use blockchain to help the unidentified poor.
  2. Blockchain can improve healthcare for the poor. Paper-based medical records are onerous, but especially so in developing countries where people frequently relocate due to economic or political instability. Also, it can be can be difficult to keep track of vaccination history, especially during the early years of life. Pediatric vaccines often require multiple administrations along a specified timeline. Blockchain technology would help maintain a more accurate record of which vaccines have been administered and are still due to be administered to a child.
  3. One of the ways blockchain can help the poor is by altering the flow of money. Most of the money pouring into developing nations is not from foreign aid, but rather from remittances. On average, more than eight percent of the more than $400 billion of remittances sent to developing countries each year is lost to fees. Because blockchain removes the middle man, the cost of sending remittances would drop significantly. Since more funds would be reaching their target recipient, senders would be motivated to send even more, thus further increasing the cash flow into developing nations. Just as blockchain would help to ensure remittances make it to their intended recipient, it would also help to ensure foreign aid is used appropriately. Since donations would be part of a public ledger, they would not be susceptible to diversion by corrupt individuals.

These are just a few of the many ways blockchain can help the poor. The technology also holds promise for improving access to credit and establishing land ownership among a myriad of other applications. It’s no wonder that more and more people are expressing interest in the blockchain.

Rebecca Yu

Photo: Flickr

blockchain
Satoshi Nakamoto was the pseudonym under which a person or persons released the invention of the Bitcoin, and more importantly, the Blockchain. Bitcoin has proved to be influential and has a fervent user-base that believes it holds the keys to upending the banking and finance world through decentralized cryptocurrency. The power behind Bitcoin, however, lies with the Blockchain. And the power of the Blockchain has the potential to spawn new technologies and help the poor.

The Blockchain technology developed by “Satoshi Nakamoto” has been hailed as a practical solution to the “Byzantine General’s Problem.” It does not completely solve the Byzantine General’s Problem, but it does enough to bypass the issue to the extent that it should pose no issue in reality. The Byzantine General’s Problem proposes the flaw of sharing information between, say, two Generals. If one wants to tell the other to “attack point A,” he or she may send a message, but then he will never be sure if the other General got the message. The Blockchain is important because it solves the problem of “double spending” by providing a practical solution to the Byzantine General’s Problem. This means that there is no risk of a Bitcoin being spent twice, which would be similar to counterfeiting money. The Blockchain does this by creating a public ledger that records every transaction that ever took place with Bitcoin. Essentially, the Blockchain enables trust without need for identity.

Blockchain technology could be used in wide-ranging applications. For example, NASDAQ recently announced that it will be testing Blockchain technology to record transactions of share trades for privately-held companies. Brian Singer explained in an interview with Forbes that he believes that Bitcoin and the Blockchain can substantially reduce poverty around the globe. Singer argues that the ability to have undeniable, transparent ownership of something that everyone can trust is imperative. Ownership of, say, a Bitcoin is ownership over value. This undeniable ownership of value that is recognized in a system no matter what anyone says is what causes Singer to believe that the Blockchain technology behind Bitcoin can have a profound impact on the poor. Bitcoin has already caused disruption in the remittance business; immigrants have been using Bitcoin to send money back home. Bitcoin does not demand costly extra fees like Western Union.

The Blockchain also removes the need for a third party, such as a computer server. One purpose of a bank is to store value safely and efficiently and also manage exchanges of value at high rates using credit card and debit card systems, which are centralized. The Blockchain can safely and effectively protect your value from “double spending” and digital theft – only by mistake of the user can it be stolen – and at the same time avoid the pesky fees and rules that banks impose.

Because of the Blockchain’s ability to essentially create trust without identity in a system, it lends itself to secondary innovations such as being used for other distributed systems that are without a central point, such as one server that contains all necessary information. Although distributed systems are not new, the Blockchain could help facilitate the creation of even more. These systems are in many ways more powerful than a centralized system. They rely on much less digital and physical infrastructure, such as a server run by a third party. These systems can run independently of an authority. Distributed systems of all sorts have many advantages that lend themselves to the poor. By curtailing the need for a trusted authority or more infrastructures, it makes it easier for the poor to use and access these technologies from their respective countries and makes them more reliable.

It is possible that new innovations will emerge that are of particular use to the poor, as seen when people use the Blockchain and Bitcoin to bypass traditional remittance markets. The possibilities are endless; new companies are popping up and attempting to leverage this new technology. Like the Internet or other technologies, it can be difficult at first to see where the end of the tunnel leads, and the Blockchain may be no different. With smart phones becoming more and more common even amongst the poor, innovations on the Blockchain may hold hidden solutions.

– Martin Yim

Sources: Brookings, Marketplace, Forbes, The Guardian
Photo: The Cointelegraph