When hundreds of thousands of people in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) fled their homes after the eruption of the Mount Nyiragongo volcano on May 22, a blogger and a fledgling restaurant worker teamed up in the city of Goma and used bitcoin to help displaced families.
Chainglob crypto news founder Gloire Wanzavalere went to the makeshift refugee camp that sprang up nearly overnight, offering to give away bitcoin to displaced families.
He recruited by word-of-mouth, asking people if they knew someone who lost their home. But he quickly found that most of the families had already traded their phones for food. They also left most of their belongings behind, so didn’t have the paperwork needed to open new bank accounts or acquire new devices.
“These people lost everything. I understood it was rational for them to sell what they had left in order to buy food,” Wanzavalere said. “So we bought phones for eight people…12 people benefited from our initiative, four among them already had their own smartphones.”
Wanzavalere was inspired by online news of the bitcoin Beach project in El Salvador, which he said proved poor people can still use bitcoin despite the technical challenges and volatility.
“Coming to their aid with bitcoin was a more powerful act than any marketing campaign could be. That’s when we told ourselves, OK, we’re going to do this in Congo,” the crypto-focused blogger said.
They started with a small, circular workflow….