“I encourage all of us, whatever our beliefs, to question the basic narratives of our worlds, to connect past developments with present concerns, and not to be afraid of controversial issues”
Yuval Noah Harari, 21 lessons for the 21st Century.
We stand at a paradigm shift; the basic narratives of our world are no longer sustainable, nor endurable. Financial, economic, environmental and social structures crumble amidst rising inequality and fear. We have reached the turning point that new technologies, such as blockchain applications, cryptocurrencies and an interactive internet provide; the possibility to move beyond reinventing existing interactions and old power structures, and to seize the opportunity to move from ‘divide and rule’ (Machiavelli - The Prince, 1513) to a true ‘unite and empower’.
‘The use of land as security and an engine of wealth creation in Africa will continue to be problematic until more creative mortgage systems and laws are applied’, wrote late Professor P. McAusland (♰2014) in 2003. Now, almost 20 years later, this failure has led to the dazzling amount of a shortage of 50 million homes in Africa. Africa urbanises at a rate of 23 million people per year, resulting in African cities being 29 percent more expensive than cities in other countries at similar income level (World Bank, 2020). The average mortgage rate in Africa varies between 45% (Zimbabwe) to 17% (Gambia), making it virtually impossible to own a property for an African unless paid fully in cash. Construction and building (traditional methods) are responsible for 39% of the total world-wide CO2 emissions. If the law and financial issues were to be solved, addressing this shortage without innovative and sustainable approaches would create a tremendous extra burden and impact on the planet through Climate Change.
Empowa found a way to address this; a paradigm shift in the ownership and wealth creation, a foundation that moves beyond fixed, and a horizon that is yet to seek its true limit. If you draw a line, would that indicate your horizon… or the first line to shape a new future of true and enduring belonging?
Blockchain enables full transparency and efficiency and has the potential to provide the missing pin between technology and impact at community level in overcoming Africa’s intertwining property obstacle of ‘customary conservative state bureaucracy’, and private mortgage practices and attitudes as described and analysed so extensively for decades. To date blockchains have been used as a way to support and reinvent existing and old structures, such as tokenising asset ownership or decentralising financial services. Empowa is convinced that we can use the full potential of this technology to unleash the issue of land and property rights to benefit African economic growth for Africans. This can overcome the incredible inequality that is currently imposed upon them through existing financial, social and political systems, and which has led to tremendous loss of both economic benefits, safety, and economic empowerment of communities and individuals.
Shared wealth (knowledge and financial means), purpose and compassion
Throughout history, communities tended to guard one another’s safety at the local and sometimes national level, based on a mutually felt belonging and empathy. Climate change and conflict has led to massive (climate) refugees, displaced communities, property destruction and a lack of safety and shelter for millions of people in Africa and around the globe. The new era of technology allows us to better understand the plight of others, to truly connect to other communities, to fully understand their circumstances, and to embrace a common sense of true belonging around the world. Compassion is critical, and new communication technologies make it possible to increase our capacity to feel empathy with others, to share in abundance our wealth and knowledge and to create the global impact that is needed to ensure a secure home and income for the millions of Africans that currently lack such resources through circumstances than can be overcome through new technologies and innovations.
Co-creation of impact
Global problems, such as climate change, cannot be solved at a local or national level. Our efforts in the United Nations SDGs at a national and regional level make no sense unless we enable Africa to benefit from shared knowledge and skills in building not only affordable, but also sustainable and climate-resilient houses at-scale. Co-creation between parties is needed to address the dazzling amount required and ever growing lack of over 50 million homes in Africa. Shelter, safety and economic empowerment can be generated by providing communities, in particular women entrepreneurs, in Africa with the possibility to own property and to develop that property to generate an income and build wealth. If we combine that wealth creation with the newest building innovations in carbon negative building techniques, which are sustainable, climate-resilient, flexible and very fast to build, adapt or in some cases even be removed and resettled if there is a dispute around land ownership, we can co-create impact at the community and the global level.
Empowa is building a platform designed to incentivise community engagement at a global scale using collectibles that represent empowerment through shared wealth creation and impact. It will build on established blockchain capabilities for a fully transparent and accountable decentralised curation and distribution of value, as well as the provable ownership of digital collectibles through Non Fungible Tokens (NFTs) based on impact and emotional attachment, recently popularised by their use in digital art and games.
The purchase of collectibles will fund the building of sustainable housing properties that will generate rental income over a 10 year transition to the land owner. The NFT collectibles can be traded at any time and as their empowerment ratings increase their value as a memorable community moment could increase, potentially making them more attractive to collectors.
The value exchanged for these collectibles won’t however, be a charitable endeavour. Rental income collected will be shared between the NFT, the land owner and long term tenants. Service provider businesses will also emerge to support those engaging in the platform, providing further empowerment and shared wealth creation. Empowa’s vision is to build an ecosystem culture that places social value above financial value by encouraging returns from rental income to be “re-empowered” into other community initiatives and further boosting empowerment ratings, even though there is the potential for collectors to receive a financial return via the NFT.
This is an ambitious project, but big problems need bold innovations. These problems can not be solved by using the same kind of thinking we used when they were created. Empowa’s founders bring the perfect blend of experience in creative on the ground property development programs in Africa and the implementation of large scale software platforms. This combined with the vast experience of our partners, collaborators and advisors, positions us to succeed in delivering its full-potential; organically and professionally.
For more information visit https://empowa.io or contact us on Twitter at @empowa_io