If we’re going to call out global beer conglomerates when they hurt small, independent businesses, it’s only fair to note when that size works to the advantage of the disadvantaged. Before you roll your eyes too hard, let’s dive into the technology at the core of this news.
Empowering the poor
Minneapolis-based tech startup BanQu has developed a blockchain technology to empower people in the poorest sectors of the globe and connect them with economic opportunities that would otherwise be impossible. The platform gives these “unbanked” or “underbanked” people a free, secure, online profile that provides a recognizable economic identity. In just a number of minutes, unbanked mobile users set up a personal digital identification profile that connects to their banked network, including family, friends, small businesses and associated NGOs. As they start accumulating transaction histories on the BanQu blockchain, the world’s unbanked also develop a traceable, vetted financial and personal history.
If this interests you, I’d recommend reading this Q&A with the founder.
The next step is perhaps the harder part: connecting these previously unconnectable producers with brands looking to improve supply chain management and enhance ROI through asset provenance via for-profit/for-purpose blockchain-as-a-service software.
AB InBev partnership
In June 2018, BanQu piloted a new partnership with Anheuser-Busch InBev, working to connect 2,000 Zambian farmers to the mobile platform as they harvest and sell a projected 2,000 tons of cassava — producing a high-quality starch used in beer — by the end of Zambia’s growing season in August.
“Since 60 percent of the 2.7 billion unbanked and underbanked people already own mobile phones, these devices make the best platform for these people to connect to the global economy,” said BanQu Founder and CEO Ashish Gadnis, who himself grew up in poverty in India. “BanQu is enabling the democratization of data, money and eventually power, while delivering a distinct business advantage to global brands like Anheuser-Busch InBev and their localized company, Zambian Breweries, who believe in an inclusive agricultural model. Our goal is to strengthen this partnership across multiple crops and countries setting up a long-term, sustainable and responsible supply chain that directly benefits the small-scale farmers in the world.”
With supply chain traceability and transparency, BanQu provides Anheuser-Busch InBev’s local business, Zambian Breweries, with the ability to track its product every step of the way through built-in geo-location tags on all transactions along with farmer identity profiles. As products like the cassava crop move from one step to the next in the supply chain, from the farmer at the source to local businesses, aggregated buyers and retailers at the top, BanQu facilitates a record of sale etched on the immutable, decentralized ledger that is the blockchain.
“The scope and empowerment that the platform provides to the small holder is exceptional, and I look forward to seeing the implementation of the project, from pilot to our full-time buying platform,” said Zambian Breweries Agricultural Manager Chris Nicolle.
The BanQu Platform core includes features such as a universal design that works on any device — from the oldest to newest cell phones. The platform is 100-percent translatable by supporting any language in the world, and it is fully configurable to global brands, micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), government and philanthropic organizations, as well as financial services (KYC/AML). The platform provides 24/7 free access to all consumers for every imaginable use case, from remote purchasing to cash disbursements. Lastly, as the platform is not tied to a cryptocurrency, the speed and security of transactions won’t be impacted by the volatility of Bitcoin or any other cryptocurrency.
BanQu was founded in 2016 and has connected over 15,000 last-mile farmers, displaced and refugees to the platform across eight countries. The company aims to help lift 100-million people out of extreme poverty through the use of blockchain technology by the year 2028.