One of the most exciting opportunities Bitcoin presents is the ability to transact business from any part of the world. This has been the dream of many young African entrepreneurs: the freedom to run our businesses remotely without being tied down to a particular physical location. The pleasure of working on the go and around the clock without waiting for banks to open before one can transact business. A lot of barriers affect the free flow of trade especially on the African continent. Forex restrictions, payment systems, language barriers coupled with unreliable electricity supply makes doing business a challenge.
In this day and age, where getting a job after college is nearly impossible in the ECOWAS region (statistics on unemployment rates on the African continent as a whole is pretty elusive), the wide use and popularity of Bitcoin provides the opportunity for young West Africans who have entrepreneurial ambitions to go into business for themselves. For example, an individual can set up an online store which deals in authentic African artifacts and custom made pieces, which can then be sold on the local or international market in exchange for bitcoins. Payments as mentioned above is a great challenge for a lot of African entrepreneurs. For example transferring cash from any African country to other parts of the world or from one African country to another African county comes with complicated bank processes and ‘form filling’. Major international payments platforms such as Paypal do not allow transactions from African countries such as Ghana and Nigeria due to incidence of fraud. Meanwhile it is fairly easy to transfer cash from Europe and America to African countries.
A key benefit of entrepreneurship lifestyle powered by Bitcoin is that, not only are the entrepreneur’s target customers people from his or her country, but to a wider and diverse group of people situated all over the world. It affords the entrepreneur the opportunity to make business connections and build a meaningful business across the globe. Bitcoin is a global crypto-currency therefore is completely solve payments issues for the budding African entrepreneur. Bitcoin can also be used across a variety of platforms from email to text messages therefore the money transfer process is fairly easy and straight forward.
Being a lifestyle entrepreneur is a great idea for unemployed young Africans because it does not cost too much to set up. For example, a lot of young people have certain talents such as painting and craftwork, design, creative writing etc. The requirement for such talents entering into business for themselves is basically having a website that display their work to visitors. They can also focus on building their social media following. Meanwhile they have to set up bitcoin accounts to receive payments from people who order their services. According to the World Trade Organisations (WTO) billions of goods are traded every year. Every young African is allowed a piece of that pie. Bitcoin is giving young Africans a chance to have a bite of that trade pie. What makes entrepreneurship a beautiful journey is the ability for the young African to significantly impact his/her society in terms of creating job opportunity for other young unemployed Africans in search of a job. A reduction in unemployment rates will mean an increased level of standard of living, therefore a reduction in poverty and all the social vices associated with an idle hand.
Bitcoin is gaining popularity in an age where a lot of unemployed young Africans are wallowing about in despair. But a lot more education and conscientization has to be done for more Africans to see the benefits that bitcoin provides. This is the time for entrepreneurship and building a sustainable stream of income for young ones without relying too much on government or corporate organisations to give provide jobs.
Every great business or organisation we see around us was once an idea; it took the hard work of people who believed in those ideas to make them as great as we see them today. Bitcoin was also once an idea–it required the hard work of Satoshi Nakamoto and other programmers who believed in openness, creativity and freedom to attain the major impact that Bitcoin is having in our world today.
Kwaku Abedi is a freelance writer/editor based Accra-Ghana. He has an interest in bitcoin and writes on how bitcoin can reduce Africa’s teeming trade challenges