Afghan Entrepreneur Empowers Women Through Bitcoin
Afghan entrepreneur, Roya Mahboob, announced her intention to organize a conference for bitcoin in Afghanistan to showcase projects developed by female Afghan entrepreneurs. The CEO and co-founder of Digital Citizen Fund has worked tirelessly for women’s financial empowerment in Afghanistan, being deemed one of the 100 most influential people in the world by Time magazine in 2013.
Also Read: Code To Inspire: Connecting Afghan Women To The Global Economy
Digital Citizen Fund Hopes to Organize a Bitcoin Conference in Afghanistan
Roya Mahboob is the CEO and co-founder of Digital Citizen Fund, a nonprofit that has enrolled 9,000 Afghan women and girls in education programs and that plans to organize a conference for bitcoin in Afghanistan. Speaking recently with International Business Times, Mahboob states that the Digital Citizen Fund has “helped 100 women start their own businesses. The next step is we are going to have a bitcoin conference in Afghanistan so we can showcase their projects.”
Mahboob foresees blockchain technology having profound applications in Afghanistan outside of comprising a vehicle for financial autonomy. Blockchain-based smart contracts provide an excellent solution to problems of contracts being denied or destroyed, an underhanded business practice that Mahboob claims is regularly used against women due to the unlikelihood the victim receiving assistance from authorities. “No one can destroy the records and say we don’t have a contract. That is all important for women with financial independence in developing countries,” Mahboob said. Mahboob also hopes to “develop a blockchain-powered marketplace for women, using smart contracts for insurance and loans,” International Business Times reports.
Roya Mahboob Has Been a Long Term Advocate for Bitcoin in Afghanistan
At the age of 23, Mahboob founded Afghan Citadel Company (ACSC), an IT services firm which predominantly hired female engineers and employees. ACSC was initially extremely successful, securing contracts with major institutions including U.S. and Afghan government agencies.
The ACSC would eventually suffer from delayed payments from Afghan government agencies, vandalism, and death threats, prompting Mahboob to partner with an American investor and launch Women’s Annex – a company that would empower Afghan women to write blogs and generate an income through advertising. Following the realization that the vast majority of women employed by Women’s Annex’s did not own bank accounts, Mahboob turned to bitcoin, as such comprises a payment vehicle that was able to transcend Afghanistan’s patriarchal financial institutions.
Women’s Annex has led to a significant increase in female adoption of bitcoin in Afghanistan, which in turn allowed many women to access unprecedented levels of financial autonomy. During a recent Blockchain Summit event, Mahboob recounted the story of one woman whose “husband always hit her and took all [of her] money from her”. After joining Women’s Annex and being introduced to cryptocurrency, the woman was able to save enough bitcoin to “later [sell] them off and [get] a lawyer to get her divorce”, said Mahboob.
Do you think that bitcoin and blockchain technology have an important role to play in the empowerment of women living in patriachal societies? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!
Images courtesy of Shutterstock and Digital Citizen Fund
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