In an age where blackness is attacked on many fronts despite permeating popular culture across the globe, it is rare to hear that black people are “loved” by businesses/enterprises. That is where Bitcoin startup, BitMari, is stepping in, with its “I Love Black People” Trans-Atlantic HBCU tour. The tour will serve as a recruiting platform for the fast growing startup, in addition to exploring practical uses of Bitcoin through student led hackathons, focus groups and visits to local black businesses.
BitMari founders Sinclair Skinner and Christopher Mapondera, who are HBCU graduates themselves, agree that the global African Diaspora is in dire need of financial empowerment. They believe that technology is the best way to overcome obstacles. “Our goal with BitMari is not to just ease the pain of financial dependence and economic uncertainty, we wish to bring an end to that pain by offering more monetary control to the people," stated Mr. Mapondera. Mr. Skinner added, "Technology changes the world in ways that politics, militarism and economics cannot.” The idea of self-reliance and personal control is a common theme among Bitcoin and Blockchain enthusiast, it was also the impetus for Bitmari’s successful 2016 crowdfunding campaign in support of their Agrotech Accelerator, where they supplied 100 women farmers in rural Zimbabwe with Bitcoin to pay for their materials and equipment.
The overarching goal of the inaugural tour is to spur, promote and celebrate black business and innovation throughout the Diaspora. BitMari will be hitting seventeen stateside HBCUs in the month of October to do just that. The lucky schools taking part in this experience will be Howard University, The University of the District of Columbia, Morgan State, Coppin State, North Carolina A&T, Tennessee State, Florida A&M, Tuskegee, Spelman, Morehouse, Clark Atlanta University, Jackson State, Huston-Tillotson, Texas Southern University, Prairie View, Paul Quinn and Harris-Stowe. At each stop, BitMari will collaborate with campus leaders, local businesses and change-agents to evangelize the benefits of STEM education, entrepreneurship and Blockchain technology.
From there, BitMari will take the tour across the Atlantic Ocean to visit eight HBCU's in Zimbabwe during the month of November. The stops include the University of Zimbabwe, Midlands State University, National University of Science and Technology, Lupane State University, Bindura University of Science Education, Africa University and Great Zimbabwe University.
There are three points that will be stressed during the tour. The first will be to #BuyBlack. This means supporting black businesses that are providing quality goods and services to the public. “Buying Black” will not only help sustain those businesses, but will also help to create institutions that will help fortify their communities and build wealth for future generations.
The second point is to #BankBlack. This point promotes the importance of black-owned financial institutions that are sensitive to the needs and concerns of black people. An idea that was reinforced by a 2014 FDIC study that found that black-owned banks in the U.S. are significantly more likely to lend in low-to-moderate income communities and to borrowers of color than many major banks. BitMari has already started this work in The Republic of Zimbabwe, where a few months ago, they made history by becoming the first Bitcoin startup to be granted an international remittance license by an African Central bank. As a result, Zimbabweans can use BitMari’s mobile wallet to transact in Bitcoin via their commercial bank partner Agribank, bypassing the predatory fees of traditional remittance companies.
The third and final point stressed will be to #BuildBlack. This is a call for the global black community to step up and support its innovators and entrepreneurs. The theme also challenges business leaders to collaborate more in an effort to promote financial growth and collective wealth throughout the Diaspora.
Through this tour, the young, black minds of tomorrow will get the tools they need to financially empower themselves and build stronger foundations in their respective communities. You can get in on this historic action as well. Become a volunteer on the host committee or support the Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign.