February 1, 2023

EMURGO's Shogo Ishida Spoke About Cardano's Social Impact at World Economic Forum 2023

Albert Kim



EMURGO Middle East & Africa (MEA) co-CEO Shogo Ishida was invited to speak at the World Economic Forum (WEF) 2023 in Davos in January 2023.

Speaking on the topic of “Blockchain for Good” by Home of Blockchain Swiss, the panel featured a high-profile lineup of panelists and focused on the potential of blockchain technology and Web3 solutions to make the world a better place. 

Citing different Web3-specific use cases, the panel showcased how blockchain technology helps to improve living conditions around the world.

More specifically, Ishida touched upon how Cardano’s decentralized blockchain technology helps to “bank the unbanked” or give access to much-needed financial services to those who lack access, how female entrepreneurs in Africa are increasingly developing the local Web3 space, and the drive to expand the usage of RealFi

EMURGO MEA is a regional entity of EMURGO, one of the founding members of the Cardano blockchain. As co-CEO of EMURGO MEA, Ishida spearheads the drive for governments, businesses, and users in the region to adopt Cardano’s blockchain platform as a technological infrastructure for building Web3 products & services.

To date, EMURGO MEA and its subsidiary EMURGO Africa have earmarked $200 million to invest in the region’s growing Web3 space and made 30 investments in the last year alone.

Below, we have recapped some of Ishida’s points on the topics mentioned above.

Pictured on the left: EMURGO MEA co-CEO Shogo Ishida at WEF 2023

On providing financial inclusion through Cardano

Ishida: Cardano is a decentralized and open-source blockchain platform driven by a research-first approach and is the first provably-secure blockchain. It is designed to be scalable, sustainable, and interoperable with other blockchain technologies and has been built to be environmentally friendly since its inception.

Cardano has a grand vision to promote economic inclusion by providing a secure, transparent, and decentralized blockchain that can host decentralized applications for finance, digital identity, digital property, and more to anyone who needs access.

For instance, providing secure digital identity to 1 billion people through Cardano and Web3 solutions can help increase personal credit ratings, and credit legitimacy, and foster an environment where more people can have adequate access to basic financial services such as lending and borrowing. 

In Africa, the lack of a trusted ID can result in unfair extraordinary interest charges when accessing even micro-financial services. This prevents many from accessing simple lines of credit for basic personal needs.

On the rise of female Web3 entrepreneurs in Africa

Ishida: EMURGO MEA has made 30 investments in different Web3 projects, several of which are founded by talented female entrepreneurs. In Africa, the rate of unbanked women is higher than men, and about two-thirds of women do not have access to adequate finance. 

EMURGO MEA is committed to the empowerment of female entrepreneurs by providing the necessary resources to help them succeed and seeing how Cardano’s technology can support the growth of their solutions. 

For instance, some of the major local exchanges in Africa we have invested in, such as Ejara in Cameroon and BitMama in Nigeria, are providing direct financial services and are founded by talented female entrepreneurs. 

In terms of investments in companies that provide basic infrastructure, Kenya’s BuuPass, which is building the digital infrastructure for long-distance transportation, is one such example. 

Founded by a female entrepreneur team, BuuPass is digitizing the online bus and rail ticketing system that provides long-distance travel in East Africa. Kenya is the most economically developed country in East Africa, with many migrant workers coming from neighboring countries such as Tanzania and Uganda. By digitizing its online ticketing process, bus and rail operators can now fill seats efficiently, and users can easily purchase and manage tickets via a mobile application. 

BuuPass has also pioneered to integrate M-Pesa, a digital currency issued by Kenyan telecom company Safaricom, which can be used in 7 countries and has 51 million users. It doesn’t require a bank account so the unbanked are able to purchase train or bus tickets using M-Pesa through the BuuPass application. 

BuuPass commands a 70% market share of the railway ticketing system and has sold more than 7 million tickets in the past two years. Currently, EMURGO MEA and BuuPass are working together on the transition of their application to Web3 including a pilot project & proof-of-concept to provide digital identity and further access to a wider range of micro financial services.

On why RealFi is important

Ishida: Decentralized blockchain technology like Cardano has brought a potential paradigm shift in financial services. While still in its relative infancy, decentralized blockchain technology now offers to the possibility for decentralized financial applications (DeFi) that run on top of decentralized blockchain networks that offer access to anyone without having to resort to a traditional financial intermediary. This means easier access for microlending and borrowing, and other lines of credit for small business owners, and everyday people, especially in areas where they lack access to traditional financial services.

RealFi is a concept that takes DeFi further. RealFi is a combination of traditional finance and DeFi to create a real bridge between the two.

In Africa, Cardano founding entities EMURGO and IOG are working together to promote RealFi. There are 50 million small businesses in Africa, but many of these cannot guarantee collateral for credit. As a result, most of their financial demand is unmet which is a staggeringly large sum. 

RealFi is the solution to this problem.

In RealFi, there are three key components – digital identity, internet network, and application solutions. Cardano is already working with the Ethiopian Ministry of Education on a project to provide 5 million decentralized identifiers (DIDs) in 3,500 schools. For the internet, our partner World Mobile is building a connectivity infrastructure and already has thousands of users. Applications facilitate the RealFi process by increasing accessibility to financing for small businesses with an influx of money from DeFi investors as well as traditional investors.

Follow EMURGO Middle East & Africa for more information

EMURGO MEA invests and supports local Web3 projects in the region to adopt Cardano’s decentralized blockchain technology to build socially impactful solutions.

As a regional entity of EMURGO, the official commercial arm of Cardano, EMURGO MEA also runs a local Cardano accelerator in Africa, Adaverse, which accepts applications year-round.

For more up-to-date information on EMURGO MEA, follow the official channels listed below.

About EMURGO Middle East & Africa

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