I want to talk about how bitcoin helped change my life, my organization, my country, Sierra Leone, as well as the grassroots efforts bitcoin was used to support during the Ebola crisis. Our first funding was sent through Western Union, but it is challenging, very slow, and at a 10% fee. Bitcoin on the other hand is decentralized, online money, that is not back by government or banks, that arrives in about 1 hour, and the fee is only around .2%. The individual can manage their own money, and transact with merchants globally. It is secured by the most robust encryption known to date.
I first learned of bitcoin from Daniel Mclaughlin of the USA, and the founder of the Sierra Leone Liberty Group, when we were trying to find a way to transfer our funds and how we can set up the Organization. At first he linked me with Philip Asare in Ghana, the first Bitcoin founder in Ghana the Director of Dream Bitcoin foundation in Kumasi. Philip told me all about bitcoin and how I can set up a wallet, so that we could get funding to help fight Ebola in Sierra Leone. I also got in touch with Alakanani, aka Bitcoin Lady, in Botswana, who told me much about bitcoin and how I can set it up so I can use and learn more about Bitcoin.
I first tried to set up a Bitcoin wallet with Philip in 2014, but I did not know how it worked. I lost a bitcoin as I didn’t know that you couldn’t get into your bitcoin wallet if you lost your password. I came across another bitcoin enthusiast, Tim Tayshun, who gave me more details about Bitcoin, and how it will help the country In the Ebola crisis.
Through networking in the Bitcoin community I found some friends who helped me to set up a website to get some funding to fight against Ebola. At first I was asked to set up splash mobile Money where I can get my Bitcoin exchange instantly to my currency Leone. I was lucky to get in touch with Nikunj of Bitcoin remittance platform in Ghana, BeamRemit, who help me to set a website called BitcoinagainstEbola.org, where I got the Bitcoin straight into Sierra Leone when I receive a donation. The BitcoinAgainstEbola.org website really helped the people of Sierra Leone during the Ebola crisis and helped some of the organization volunteer as well.
The organization got some donation in Bitcoin where we bought some food for Ebola victims that were quarantined for 21 days at home. The Organization helped many victims, children, and helped distribute cleaning materials as well.
I have had the opportunity to attend the first Regional Bitcoin Seminar in Africa in Kumasi in December 2014, where I had received many Bitcoin donations from friends and love ones in the Bitcoin world, so that I can get more Bitcoin education and can come back and spread it to the country during the Ebola outbreak.
I attended the event in December and get many idea and get more support as well from different friend and our SLLG website designer, David DeSantis, who also helped me in my stay in Ghana, and helps with posting about what SLLG is doing.
I have made many connections now and have learned of many business ideas. Some friends may come visit or work in Sierra Leone. I am trying to see how more people can come and invest in business in here.
My greatest frustration for now is since BeamRemit shut down, our BitcoinAgainstEbola.org website is also shut down, and we are not able to instantly transfer Bitcoin to Leone at this time.
Bitcoin is a godsend, and can reduce the amount of fake and bad business, and transactions that are going through the banks and other insecure means of transaction.
Along with trying to see how Bitcoin can reach the community and villages, I still keep up the hard work with my funders, and continue to find ways to get our NGO funding to promote the purposes of Liberty and Entrepreneurship.
Bitcoin can really change our lives.
Author: Mustapha Cole,
Director/Cofounder of the Sierra Leone Liberty Group (SLLG) www.sllg.info,
SLLG is an NGO that is educating young people to improve their own life through
entrepreneurship, self-responsibility, private property rights, limited government awareness, and free market systems.