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Blockchain Tech Provides Solution to Financial Lack Faced by SMEs in Africa
Garrick Hileman, a prominent figure in the crypto world, once described blockchain technology as nothing short of a miracle. And for people in Africa, it is indeed quite the blessing.
This nascent innovation has enabled large lending companies to provide loans to small- and medium-business owners who need capital to run their shops. In the past, banks in East Africa were wary of lending money to these small and medium enterprises (SMEs) because calculating the risk involved was difficult as all of them were treated as one sector, Bloomberg reported.
However, with blockchain technology, each of them can build their own reputation. Lending companies can then monitor who can keep healthy business practices and who can maintain a clean track record. As a blockchain keeps an immutable digital document of every transaction, it provides a history of information that allows financial firms to broaden their reach and expand to other regions.
Moreover, it solves the country’s problem with SME’s lack of finance while opening a wider market for farmers, essentially providing solutions to several problems at once. Citizen Janeffer Wacheke is beyond grateful that her loans are being approved by these companies. She said these loans can help grow her business and support her family.
“My prayers have been answered,” Wacheke said. “In business, you need to be fast. The more you pay, the more you get bigger loans, and the more you can sell. It has really helped me.”
The blockchain-based mobile app she uses was developed by International Business Machines Corp., which is trying to help the informal economy sector of the country, estimated to be valued at $20 billion. Microloans for the economy account for $6.5 million annually, according to Nairobi-based loan provider 4G Capital.
“If a small-shop owner can take 10 $200 loans over the course of a year and there are 3.25 million small shop owners and 10 times that number of traders, you’re talking about a lot of people who need to buy inventory and sell it and don’t have access to a financial product designed around their needs,” said 4G CEO Wayne Hennessy-Barrett.