ICO SUMMIT 2018
The adoption of blockchain technology continues to grow every year since Bitcoin was introduced in 2009. Bitcoin heralded a new era for decentralized financial system that promises to disrupt the way we interact with money globally. Ever since the introduction of Bitcoin a lot of other possibilities have been conceived with the technology behind Bitcoin, the blockchain, promising to disrupt various industries. This has resulted to formation of other alternative cryptocurrencies solving various problems.
As of 2018, there are more than 1500 cryptocurrencies in the market and many more are expected to come. One of the main aspects propelling growth of alternative cryptocurrencies is ability to raise funds through the ICO (initial coin offering model). With ICOs, a company is able to raise funds from the public directly rather relying on the complicated and restrictive funding model such as banks and venture capital. The ICO model promises to completely change the way businesses fundraise. The opportunity is beneficial for businesses because they are able to easily raise money. It is also beneficial to the public because ordinary investors are able to take part in funding businesses of their choice. In 2017 alone, startups managed to raise over $5billion through ICOs globally. This, along with other blockchain developments is expected to continue.
It is against this backdrop that various countries have adopted blockchain technology and more specifically exploring the application of ICOs. In Kenya, president said recently said that his government was keen in evaluating how the government can leverage blockchain technology to help implement the president’s big 4 agenda:education, affordable healthcare, food security and manufacturing. He spcifically said that
‘We need to understand the opportunities for Blockchain technology, the risks of cyber-security and the essential education and skills young people will need to make new technology work for them‘
Immediately afterwords, the cabinet secretary for ICT, Mr Mucheru recently instituted a blockchain taskforce with the mandate of producing a roadmap on the application and development of blockchain and artificial intelligence technologies in Kenya. These developments are welcome and will go a long way in positioning Kenya as leading hub in blockchain research and adoption in Africa.
Bitsoko, CoinWeez and Mama Ventures have been working in the industry and have seen the evolution of blockchain technology and are optimistic that the use of ICO model for fundraising can significantly bring forth a new era of business fundraising in Kenya. Businesses in Kenya still face a lot of challenges when raising capital. Kenya has embraced the ‘harambee’ spirit and every day we see people coming together to fundraise for various causes: weddings, medical appeals and family emergencies as well as other national disasters. We firmly believe that this model can be replicated to business funding whereby average people have an opportunity to invest in companies and get returns. Bitsoko, Coinweez and MamaVentuires have therefore embarked on a mission to introduce businesses and investors to ICOs model of fundraising. Investors are able to hear pitches from various businesses and then make investment decision. Investors easily participate by buying tokens of their chosen company. Investors earn when tokens appreciate in value and also based on earnings of the company. To explain more about the concept, the three partners are holding an ICOSUMMIT2018 event on Saturday March 17 2018 at Nairobi Garage along Ngong road. Investors will have opportunity to hear from some of the businesses at the event as well as learn about how to invest through the ICO model. Businesses also have a chance to learn how to leverage the ICO model in order to have access to funding. Furthermore, attendees have an opportunity to understand the existing frameworks and how best they can work for the Kenyan context.
We believe that this is a huge opportunity for Kenya and the continent at large to embrace the ICO model and bring forth a new era of business fundraising and open up new frontiers in economic growth in Kenya.