By Victoria Brodsky
Posted Date : February 19, 2019

Alakanani Itireleng, aka @BitcoinLady on Twitter, Bitcoin Veteran and founder of the SatoshiCentre in Gaborone, Botswana visited BlockchainBTM in 2018. BlockchainBTM was fortunate enough to spend some time with Mrs. Alakanani (aka “Ala”), during a three week trip to the US where she was invited to attend and speak at multiple events including the BlackBlockchain Summit conference in Washington DC  on Sept 10-11 and CryptoSprings Summit in Palmsprings on Oct 3-4

Victoria:

Tell us about your initial involvement in the crypto and blockchain space – what got you so involved?

Ala:

It all started with my son when he was 5. He was very sick and needed a heart and lung transplant. I was trying to find ways to work online to raise funds for him in order to get him assistance, because we could not find him any donors in Botswana.

I went online to find ways to make extra cash (at that time I was working as a teacher), and I came across Bitcoin. That was the first time I heard of it. Unfortunately, my son passed away. Awhile after I decided to go back and do more research on Blockchain because I was fascinated by it. Once I realize how much we could do with it, and the potential opportunities, I started lobbying people together. I would gather 10-20 people for meetups to educate and discuss Bitcoin. In 2014, I opened the SatoshiCentre in Bostwana – it was meant to be an educational source for the community. It’s now an accelerator and educational center for all things Blockchain.

Victoria:

What was the community, if any around Blockchain and decentralized currency when you started the Satoshicentre?

Ala:

There was none at all in Botswana. Being a pioneer of anything is hard. People have trouble understanding what you’re doing, and like anything new and online. People are skeptical and think it’s a scam. So we had to constantly assure the community that the SatoshiCentre was a place to learn about this technology that would be very impactful in the future. At that time, I had no idea that Blockchain and Bitcoin would be where it is now. Adoption is spreading in Africa.

Victoria:

What’s the significance of Blockchain and Bitcoin in Africa communities, specifically?

Ala:

They have found refuge, especially in Bitcoin, where they have found it is more secure to use Bitcoin than to use a local currency. In some countries, the value of local currencies continue to drop, and you are afraid that the money you hold today will be worthless tomorrow.

It is also much cheaper to send money. For many parents whose kids are in school overseas, to send local currency via remittance centers or other banks is quite expensive. Sending Bitcoin is cheap – and now, Bitcoin Cash is especially cheap.

Victoria:

You started the SatoshiCentre in 2014 – What’s your vision for it in the future?

Ala:

I foresee it being a home for Botswana start-ups my dream is to turn it into a Blockchain incubator. My idea is to have a funding platform for start-ups in Botswana and other places in Africa, where founders can have access to investors, mentors, and other resources. In the U.S. I was shocked to see how large the meetups are here. I would love to see the SatoshiCentre be a place that can grow to such an extent.

Victoria:

What is your greatest need at this time in reaching your goals for the SatoshiCentre?

Ala:

Support, in every way possible – from mentors, advisors, and investors. An investor or investors who believe in what we are doing would be so helpful in achieving our mission – doing any business out-of-pocket is hard. In order to build out the platform, and offer the Botswana start-ups the support they deserve, it will take a dedicated investor who is willing to hold our hand through this process.

Additionally, we are always seeking good mentors and advisors. I myself am seeking good business mentors. I am criticized for being too charitable, which is not good when we are trying to make the Satoshicentre a for-profit business. For me to have a mentor who will help this business grow would be very helpful.

I believe the companies coming out of the SatoshiCentre can be a huge benefit to our community, the global blockchain community, and anyone who invests their time or money.

Victoria:

What sort of funding does the SatoshiCentre have?

Ala:

As of right now, we have zero funding. It’s all out of pocket, airdrop donations here and there, and have found people to sponsor travel for summits and events, which we are so grateful for. I’ve closed the doors when we’ve run out of money, but we always open right back up.   I would love to have a sustainable business, offer salaries, and see the SatoshiCentre and its companies scale and become profitable.

Victoria:

Tell us about Plaas.io.

Plaas is a agriculture management platform built on the Blockchain for farmers. It was an idea of mine that I began working on in 2016. I always believed that Blockchain brings real-life solutions to the day-to-day life. Plaas was an idea that I believe would help farmers, not only in Botswana but all over the world. The idea is to have a system that can track both animals and plants through the entire farming process, including a marketplace.

For example, it can be used to track livestock movement using FID’s, so when an animal is brought to an abattoir, they can scan the ID and get information on the cow they are buying – from the type of cow, the quality of stock it ate, and even the vaccines the animal has received. A developer from SatoshiCentre has  joined Plaas as a co-founder and we look forward to building it out as a robust blockchain system that can be used by farmers.

For more information on Plaas.io please visit their telegram channel: Plaas: Farmers Managment. We have more information on how you can be part of our growing community to solve problems in the agricultural industry. The token sale is going on now!