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Why I traveled to Togo, West Africa this summer

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Greetings all,

On this week’s episode of Ventures, I (https://linkedin.com/in/wclittle) walk through the current progress of a new NGO called Impact Stream (https://impact.stream). I and fellow team members were able to travel to Togo, West Africa this month to help onboard dozens of local people into a progressive web app we are building to facilitate proposals, on-chain voting, and funding via cryptocurrency. Importantly, these proposals are submitted by local people to be built by local vendors/workers and prioritized by their own community (and not outside influencers). In this episode I share plenty of footage from our trip, so be sure to watch the video via the link below if you happen to be on your podcast player.

Check it out: Web3 & Poverty Alleviation in Togo, West Africa: Impact Stream progress update

Why I went to Africa

I’ve been involved in Crypto/Web3 since 2016 and we - the Web3 community - have been talking about the promise of crypto for the developing world since then (and much earlier).

However, there aren’t a lot of people on the ground actually doing anything with Web3 to help with poverty alleviation in the developing world and beyond.

I and the team/community members of Impact Stream are actively working to change that. We’re doing our small part to help.

When I flew to Togo a couple weeks ago I wasn’t sure exactly what to expect. This was my first time in Africa. This was my first time in a deeply developing country. This was my first time trying to onboard people IRL into Web3/Crypto for the purposes of helping them out of poverty.

I’ve lived in Europe for a few years and have traveled to many places around the world, but I’m realizing most of those places have been - for the most part - quite touristy.

Around 2-3 billion people in the world - if not more - live in conditions that most people in developed countries couldn’t imagine. These people could have their currencies debased at any moment, their villages destroyed by famine/war/disease, their life savings robbed by vandals overnight, etc…

Most of these people don’t even speak a language that is yet on the Internet for them to learn about the world.

There is a LONG way to go here.

BUT - what I’m personally excited about is, first, how to get cryptocurrency offramped into a fiat currency like CFA so it becomes “real” to the local people (see this week’s episode to learn more details about this in Togo). Then, what gets even more exciting is when the transition from eMoney (e.g. Venmo, or “TMoney” in Togo) to crypto happens. At that point, people can transact with the world through a global, decentralized payment system. And not just the world, they can transact from farmer to farmer in their local village and it is, indeed, “real.”

So - combine this with a simple web app in their local language where they can submit proposals for public goods and have as many of those funded as possible - and we have a formula for tangible, IRL impact.

More stories and footage to come. Stay tuned.

Have a great rest of your week!