Democratizing Access and Education to Blockchain and Crypto Technologies — Reflections from the 2018 Blockchain Summit in Morocco

Roya Mahboob told the Blockchain Summit today in Morocco that she chooses to remain working in Afghanistan, despite security threats, because she knows that few other activists are willing to do the work necessary to build digital literacy for women and girls.

“If I leave my country and don’t think about all the women still there, who will?” Mahboob told summitgoers during a panel on democratizing and diversifying technology that focused on the increasingly vital role for women in the blockchain ecosystem. “Part of what I do, I have to do for my country.”

Elizabeth Rossiello, CEO and Founder of BitPesa, said equality and inclusion are a cornerstone of her business model.

“It’s not a question of being excluded or included. It’s about creating companies that have a goal of inclusion. We really just make these principles part of our actions. It’s as simple as that getting started and seeing where that takes you,” Rossiello said. “For us it’s about doing the hard work to ensure that markets that previously were excluded are now included.”

Bill Tai, founder of ACTAI Global and director of the Bitfury Group’s board, said he has funded many women entrepreneurs. “And my success rate with that group is a lot higher than it is with men,” he said.

Sandra Ro, the CEO of the GBBC, said part of the challenge for achieving diversity and equality, in technology and other sectors, is getting people to shed negative and counter-productive mindsets.

“There is a mindset and stereotyping that is toxic and dangerous,” said Ro. “Why do they tell other people that they can’t do something? That’s a wrong mindset, and we need to change that. How do we as leaders and influencers break this mindset of people putting down other people and telling them they can’t do something?”

Elizabeth Stark, co-founder and CEO of Lightning Labs, said she is inspired by the increasing diversity of the crypto and blockchain communities. “The role for women and people of different backgrounds is hugely significant, and I’m really excited to be part of that,” she said.

Neha Narula, director of the Digital Currency Initiative at MIT Media Lab, said she was inspired recently to bringing young women to a bitcoin conference in Milan, where they were the youngest and some of the only women at the event. “They had such energy. I want to do it a million more times.

Jason Weinstein, former deputy assistant attorney general of the DOJ’s Criminal Division, said he is impressed with the changing demographics of the community, and the efforts to foster inclusion and equality. “The numbers of bad-ass women in the blockchain space are growing,” he said. “This technology at its core is about empowerment and empowering the people who use it, whoever and wherever they are. And it should be about empowering the people who build it too.”

Follow the Blockchain Summit in Morocco from Bitfury’s Facebook page — we’re sharing photos, posts and livestreaming our panels. Check it out!