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Zimbabwe has been plagued with generations of economic instability, hindering its development and the well-being of its citizens. The ILP is a Universal Basic Income project for Zimbabweans. Zimbabwe’s first digital currency.

The Ivory Ledger Project:

  • Creates an immutable public ledger of the world's existing ivory and rhino horn

  • Attributes a value to the ivory and horn on the ledger and redistributes the value to surrounding communities through the coin Africoin

  • Gives economic access to those who need it most by depositing a daily stipend to the user’s digital wallet

  • Creates a stable and sustainable currency based on Zimbabwe’s existing resources

  • Uses secure decentralized technology

My role as a co-founder: In addition to collaboratively coming up with the concept with my co-founder, I am in charge of all design and user research.


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Why universal basic income (UBI)?

UBI has recently been gaining more prominence. It places the onus on the recipient of the income, and could potentially create the most benefit for citizens at the bottom of the economic pyramid.


Case Study: Alaska Permanent Fund

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  • $60B fund from Alaska’s oil and mineral leases

  • Alaskans receive stipend in the form of a dividend check

  • Residents receive up to $2072/person or $8,288/family of four.


72% of Alaskans reported saving for emergencies, retirement or education, or spending it to pay off bills, heating, appliances, and car repairs.


Case Study: GiveDirectly

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  • Charity that collects donations and sends money automatically to recipient’s cell phone in Uganda and Kenya

  • 91% of donation goes directly to recipients

Since launching 5 years ago, GiveDirectly has already enrolled more than 50,000 families and 200,000 people in cash transfer programs. For every $1,000 distributed, $270 goes to earnings, $430 to assets, $330 to nutrition.


In my research about development in Zimbabwe, I came across a series of statistics that were useful, but none illustrated the plight of Africoin UBI’s target users better than that of an article by the Harvard Business Review in June 2011. The Globe: Segmenting the Base of the Pyramid by Professors V. Kasturi Rangan, Michael Chu and Djordjija Petoksi illustrates the below:

  • Around 1.6 billion people live on around $1 a day. The have not received much education and are low-skill workers without steady earnings. “Many need improved sanitation, health care, and education.

  • Of this group, most can “afford one square meal a day, but the nutritional content is often substandard.

  • In terms of their marketplace, those in developing countries “conduct transactions in informal markets, which often bustle with activity but are inefficient because they lack infrastructure and supportive institutions. Without bank accounts or access to formal credit, they turn to moneylenders for loans at exorbitant rates and are vulnerable to exploitation by middlemen.”

Key insight

By providing users with a little extra income each day, Africoin UBI could elevate a community’s standard of living, while also helping them to develop the economic infrastructure around them.



Phase 1: Partner with wildlife conversation trusts to tokenize (on Ethereum-based blockchain) confiscated ivory 

Phase 2: Create pilot (10-15 participants) to begin releasing daily token allowances on the Africoin UBI digital wallet

Phase 3: If the token gains traction, continue generating and diversifying value for Africoin by tokenizing other resources



$2.9B Estimated GDP lost due to inflation each year in Zimbabwe

$10B Estimated value of confiscated ivory in storehouses in Zimbabwe

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Design Challenges

Understanding the User

Extensive social, political and competitive research was required to understand Africoin UBI’s target users.

Designing Inclusively

Even though smartphone penetration in Zimbabwe is around 90%, the remaining 10% still needs to be designed for.


The Android design is ready to be tested and I am currently in the process of designing an SMS-based experience.


I am currently designing the pilot program, launching Q1 2018 with a working prototype. The proposal includes:

  1. Identifying 10-15 participants to distribute the wallet to

  2. Recording how users interact with and spend the token

  3. Conducting user interviews to discuss the program and design after the conclusion of the pilot

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Current digital wallet prototype

The current design is being prepared for the pilot. Working features include:

  • Receive a daily stipend directly to your digital wallet

  • Send and receive money instantly with any user

  • View recent transactions

  • Secure and safe to use



Africoin UBI is a potential solution to a turbulent political economic climate because it provides access to the economy to those who need it most. 

Africoin UBI required a diverse range of knowledge and experience. My co-founder is a Harare-based entrepreneur and works closely with conservation trusts. I was able to continue my design and developing economics background to the project. Multi-disciplinary collaboration was required for Africoin UBI to come to fruition, and is what continues to propel it forward.

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