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Women-led SMEs leverage blockchain to bridge MENA and Sub-Saharan Africa | Opinion

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In the past decade, the global interest in women-led/owned businesses has risen, leading to solid community-building movements and the creation of innovative solutions for this growing market.

Despite the availability of solutions, cross-border trade remains a significant challenge for women-led small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the Middle East and North Africa, the MENA region, and sub-Saharan Africa. This challenge severely limits their ability to transact with each other and the rest of the world despite their shared many cultural values.

Blockchain technology is an emerging infrastructure that holds great promise for women entrepreneurs who are geographically close but economically disconnected. Women entrepreneurs in both MENA and Sub-Saharan Africa are among those who will benefit the most from emerging technologies. However, they face economic challenges that limit their empowerment and hinder access to international markets. Inefficiencies, limited access to finance, high costs, lack of transparency, unfavorable regulations, and cultural barriers all create obstacles for women-led SMEs in the region.

Blockchain has the potential to significantly transform the financial sector and facilitate inclusion for women who transact across borders. Using blockchain-based payment systems eliminates trade barriers, and businesses can access new markets and customers. This, in turn, allows companies to repatriate their earnings instantly. 

This technology enables women-led enterprises to convert real-world assets into on-chain assets they have complete control over and can trade as they wish. This solution gives them financial independence, which is often denied to many in this part of the world. This economic freedom is an essential catalyst for positive socio-economic changes in the future.

One of blockchain technology’s most innovative and upcoming applications is its combination with AI to solve real-world problems. At Boom, we are an example of this integration, as we use decentralized AI to provide businesses with access to credit by generating credit scores. These credit scores will be shared with financial institutions, allowing women-led SMEs to access the loans and capital they need to grow and expand their businesses.

Blockchain technology is considered an infrastructural technology, and its adoption by the global economic model is no longer in doubt. With the introduction of Bitcoin ETF and central bank digital currencies (CBDCs), it is evident that the technology is here to stay. Blockchain-based ecosystems are driving significant changes in the commercial landscape between the MENA and Sub-Saharan regions, offering a complete range of solutions that address the daily challenges faced by cross-border trade and unbanked situations. 

Addressing the high costs of information and communication technology (ICT), the lack of reliable internet access, and the gender gap in technology is essential to ensure that women entrepreneurs are fully included and participate in the blockchain ecosystem. Providing digital literacy and ICT training can help women entrepreneurs develop the necessary skills to overcome these challenges and succeed in the digital world. Moreover, these difficulties can also create opportunities for collaboration and innovation to support small and medium-sized enterprises led by women.

To boost the successful implementation of blockchain among women entrepreneurs, tech companies have to collaborate closely with various country holders, governmental agencies, financial institutions, and NGOs. They must create a conducive regulatory environment and support the SMEs directly by providing training and educational programs and financial envelopes for hardware.

Blockchain technology is crucial for the future success of women-led small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the MENA and African regions. This relationship between blockchain and women is growing more robust and promising every day, and both parties need to work together to achieve success. Women play a vital role in driving technology adoption within households and will undoubtedly be instrumental in bringing blockchain to the masses.

Naomi Whitney

Naomi Whitney

Naomi Whitney, chief product officer at Boom, is a versatile executive who blends her liberal arts mindset with technology. She is driven by a relentless pursuit of excellence, customer success, and a strong commitment to altruism. She brings a unique blend of expertise from her tenure in the luxury beauty industry to her innovative work in the crypto sector.

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