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    Mama Bitcoin: Fishing for more women in crypto in West Africa

    A young Bitcoiner ‘Mama Bitcoin’, from Senegal has been listed as the owner of West Africa’s first retail business to accept cryptocurrencies as payments.

    Originally named Bineta, the Senegalese lady who owns Bleu comme la mer, is reportedly also the first generation of her family who can read and write proficiently. 

    Her pseudonym ‘Mama Bitcoin’ has been inspired from the initials of her name, wherein the “mama” reflects both her motherly instincts and serves to inspire the women in West Africa to get involved into blockchain technology and Bitcoin (BTC). 

    Speaking with the media, Bineta said that there are very few women who are active in the blockchain space globally and “the situation is no different in Senegal,” which is why she wanted “to shine a light on being a woman in the crypto industry.”

    Bineta’s first acquaintance with Bitcoin occurred in early 2017 owing to her curious combination of good intentions and difficult circumstances. Bineta’s dream was to open the first bakery in her village, which is a small fishing hamlet known as Mbour, located 90 minutes south of Senegal‘s capital city, Dakar. However, Bineta did not have to funds to go ahead with her noble idea.

    As incredibly difficult it is to secure a bank loan for business ideas in West Africa, being a woman makes it even harder. This prompted Bineta to look out for alternative means to fund her idea, initiating with a multi-level marketing scheme (MLM) before she heard from a friend in Cameroon that Bitcoin could be a great choice for her proposal.

    After researching well, Bineta realized Bitcoin could make her dreams come true and then in 2017, ‘Mama Bitcoin’ had gathered a sound understanding of Bitcoin trading. It was in mid-2017 she discovered that Bitcoin is more than just a “number go up” technology, and “the more she learned, the more she realized they needed this.”

    Bineta concluded that Bitcoin would help solve many of their local community issues and that it is “a tool for freedom” as well as the technology underpinning Bitcoin, namely, blockchain and decentralization would “change Africa‘s development.”

    While pursuing Bitcoin, Bineta’s journey shifted towards something bigger, and she joked she would name the bakery as “Bitcoin Boulangerie”, but she dropped the idea and instead started working towards the vision for Bitcoin in West Africa.

    Bineta then started her career as a writer on Bitcoin and penned articles for social media websites in her attempt to reach out to Senegal’s Bitcoin and crypto community to re-evaluate her goals. Soon after, she established an ambitious seaside operation named Bleu comme la mer.

    Bleu comme la mer is a fishing commerce platform that connects fishermen directly with consumers by removing the middleman. It is the first business in Senegal that has made news to accept Bitcoin as payment. Bineta’s business accepts Ether (ETH) and Tezos (XTZ). In fact, she is responsible for having single-handedly founded the Tezos community in West Africa.

    At her fishing e-commerce platform, all that can be fished from the Atlantic is available to buy with cryptocurrencies, including sardines, shrimp, octopus and squid. Her response to having set up crypto payment for her business has her saying that payments in crypto will show contrary to what many think that “Bitcoin is a peer-to-peer payment solution, not a speculative asset.”

    Speaking of her business, Bineta explained that her blockchain vision extends beyond cryptocurrency payments, and her current focus is making Bleu comme la Mer into a decentralized e-commerce platform where the local fishermen can log their catches and consumers would be able to see exactly what was fished and from where.

    She added that making the fishing e-commerce business would not only streamline the fishing industry but would also strive to undermine overfishing which is emerging to be a harmful yet common practice in West African waters.

    She thinks that Senegalese and West Africans are particularly “quite skeptical about Bitcoin”, so it is now a passionate project of hers to get “more women into crypto”, which remains a “long-standing challenge.”

    However, Mama Bitcoin outlined there is a ray of hope for her country as Dakar’s first in-person Bitcoin meetup was held in 2022, wherein there were three women out of 20 participants. According to her, this is “a small but strong start.”

     

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