THE IVORY LEDGER PROJECT OVERVIEW
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.
A RECENT HISTORY OF ZIMBABWE’S CURRENCY PROBLEMS
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
$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
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.
MAKING A DIFFERENCE WITH $1 A DAY
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.”
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.
WHAT IF THERE WAS A WAY TO DISTRIBUTE PREVIOUSLY UN-MONETIZED RESOURCES?
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
OVER TIME, WE COULD INJECT $12.9B USD INTO ZIMBABWE’S ECONOMY
$2.9B Estimated GDP lost due to inflation each year in Zimbabwe
$10B Estimated value of confiscated ivory in storehouses in Zimbabwe
Understanding the User
Extensive social, political and competitive research was required to understand Africoin UBI’s target users.
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:
Identifying 10-15 participants to distribute the wallet to
Recording how users interact with and spend the token
Conducting user interviews to discuss the program and design after the conclusion of the pilot
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.