Two years ago, former Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and US entertainment mogul, Jay Z created ₿trust, an endowment to fund bitcoin development initially in Africa and India. The fund planned to deploy about 500 bitcoin ($23.6 million) to achieve its mission.
Shortly after the launch, the fund appointed four Africans—Nigerians Obi Nwosu, Ojoma Ochai and Abubakar Nur Khalil joined South African Carla Kirk-Cohen—to its board to “work towards defining the operating principles as they think about how to best distribute the 500 bitcoin towards development efforts”.
In one of its first move, ₿trust has acquired Qala, an African Bitcoin talent developer. Following the acquisition, Qala has now been renamed to ₿Trust Builders, according to a note on the organisation's website.
Qala was co-founded by two ₿trust board members; Nur Khalil and Carla Kirk-Cohen. As well as Bernard Parah (CEO of Bitnob) and Tim Akinbo, who is arguably the owner of the first Bitcoin node in West Africa. In 2021, Qala received a 0.5 Bitcoin grant from the New York-based Human Rights Foundation (HRF) to train 10 Bitcoin developers in Africa.
“There is a huge deficit of developers in the Bitcoin ecosystem whereas there are lots of talented developers here in Africa and the global south. With Btrust we have funding now and we are decentralising the developer pool supporting the developers in these regions.”
Since its launch, Qala has more than 100 community members across seven countries. “Qala is a programme designed to train the next generation of Bitcoin and Lightning Network developers from across the African continent. The goal is to find, upskill and match African developers with Bitcoin companies from around the globe,” the website reads.
“When we launched our program in 2021, our objective was straightforward: to cultivate a substantial number of African engineers well-versed in Bitcoin's potential to transform the continent,” Bernard Parah, co-founder & director of Qala, said in a quote cited by Forbes.
According to Parah, the acquisition will “enhance Qala's ability to not only grow our current community but also provide them with the resources to actively contribute to Bitcoin's open-source development as a crucial solution to Africa's distinct socio-economic challenges”.
“With Qala's extensive outreach and world-class programs, the organization has made rapid progress in driving open-source development in the Global South through the advancement of education within the region, which is heavily aligned with our core mission at Btrust,” says Ochai, a ₿trust board member.
As part of the deal, Femi Longe, CEO of Qala, and Stephanie Titcombe, Programmes Manager at Qala, will officially join ₿trust as Programme Leads at ₿trust Builders.
In September 2023, ₿trust Builders will launch the ‘Build for Africa’ Hackathon, which seeks to encourage makers to build solutions that solve African challenges and increase bitcoin adoption in Africa. This will serve as a platform for open innovation and collaborative problem-solving, where makers will converge to generate novel ideas through an idea hack focused on tackling Africa-specific challenges, and accelerate their bitcoin projects through mentorship in design, development, and lightning integration.
The hackathon is a pre-event for the Africa Bitcoin Conference to be held later in December in Accra, Ghana.
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