Roya Mahboob, Founder of the non-profit Digital Citizen Fund and one of Time magazine's 100 most influential people in 2013, used to teach girls and women computer skills in Afghanistan, paying her staff and freelancers in bitcoin almost 10 years ago. Following the fall of Kabul in August, many of those women who received Bitcoin have been able to use it to escape the country.
While mainstream media often focuses on the shadow economy and those who use crypto for nefarious means, founder of the non-profit Digital Citizen Fund Mahboob has spoken to Reuters about how Bitcoin has provided her and other women in Afghanistan with a lifeline in the midst of economic and social chaos.
The 34 year old noted how, almost ten years ago, she struggled to find a way to pay her workers, as women were either not allowed to have a bank account or lacked the necessary documentation:
"It wasn't feasible - or safe - to send cash to everyone, but mobile money wasn't used as widely, and options like PayPal didn't exist. Then we heard about bitcoin...It was easy to use, cheaper and more secure than other options. So we taught the girls how to use it and began to pay our staff and contributors with it - we told them it was an investment for the future,"
Around 16,000 girls attended Mahboob’s centre, and a third of them learnt how to set up a crypto wallet and receive funds. They were also able to learn about trading and investing in Bitcoin and Ethereum if they were interested in doing so.
While Mahboob moved away several years ago for her own safety, she notes that a number of women have been able to escape, or move their money out of the country, by having access to crypto:
"I am thinking now - why didn't we teach about crypto more aggressively, so more Afghans could have crypto wallets and be able to access their money now...The traffickers and kidnappers will always find a way to abuse a system. But the power of crypto is bigger - especially for women and those who don't have bank accounts, it is very beneficial and so empowering,"
The Afghan entrepreneur and philanthropist has drawn attention to the positive use cases of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. Far from lining the pockets of the crypto wealthy, there are other greater ways that crypto can positively impact those who most need access to it.
Disclaimer: This article is provided for informational purposes only. It is not offered or intended to be used as legal, tax, investment, financial, or other advice.