50 Innovators of the Year 2021
Women’s empowerment has become a significant topic of discussion in development and economics. Charity has always helped women’s empowerment but has been restricted due to cross-border complications and currency conversion. Women’s Coin® came with a vision to redefine charitable giving through tokens, blockchain, smart contracts, and virtual reality. We interviewed Prof. Christine Bamford, the Founder, and CEO of Women’s Coin, where she discusses the crypto coin for women and its purpose. Here are a few excerpts of the interview:
How did everything start?
Women’s Coin’s journey started in a palace in the desert outside of Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, where I had an audience with HRH Fatima Bint Mubarak (Mother of the Nation); we talked about women’s empowerment, and at the end, I was presented with a gold coin in recognition of the work she had been leading in the UAE on behalf of the World Health Organization. As I looked at the coin glinting in my hand, I mused, “Wouldn’t it be wonderful if there was a coin for women for social good” - That thought always stayed with me.
It was while working as Visiting Professor at the University of Northampton that I started exploring blockchain and its social value. Suddenly, the vision became a reality: a crypto-currency coin for women was born.
Where does the company stand today?
The driver behind the creation of a cryptocurrency was the imagination that proceeds from a coin that could be used to empower women through education. The Women’s Coin brand was launched in February 2018. Women’s Coin HQ is in Edinburgh, Scotland – part of a vibrant Fintech eco-system supported by the Scottish Government, Women’s Coin tokens are now trading on Counterparty bitcoin blockchain platform. Subscribers can become Founding Members through the website.
What challenges did the firm face initially, and how did it overcome them?
The cryptocurrency environment is dominated by male-oriented technology leaders and investors. Investors were keen to see a return on investment but not a social value return that would reduce profits. Overcoming the barrier of this environment, we worked on women’s wealth - the power of the purse. Since the inception of Women’s Coin, there has been a social change and reshaping of consumerism. Women and younger generations are being selective on how they invest and purchase. Women’s Coin seeks to harness the demand for ethical purchasing and transparency through the utilization of blockchain. We now have a solid social media following with people stepping forward to be advocates, Founders, and Ambassadors. In terms of investment, we have steady growth adoption created through the ideology that crypto is democratization of financial systems. The power of many –” crowdsourcing ideology” has provided a steady revenue base.
What will you do with the proceedings from Women’s Coin® crypto-currency?
Proceeds support the creation of a virtual learning platform that can be accessed anywhere, providing the end-user has 3G connectivity. Founder member contributions support small charities for disadvantaged women and children in Africa and UK.
Women’s Coin Community Ltd. has secured several high-worth contracts as a commercial provider delivering leadership development and mentoring provision. Percentage of proceeds from commercial offerings are also invested in the virtual learning platform.
How does the Women’s Coin Education Foundation help in empowering women?
Women’s Coin Education Foundation provides free online business education, mentoring, and training to women and their families living in a challenging environment. As the architect of the award-winning Stepping Up Diversity Leadership program – 65% of participants are women from all cultures, ethnicity, and backgrounds. Bursaries are available for those who cannot pay. The Key to empowerment is confidence. Independent evaluation indicates that participants rated their confidence at 37% at the beginning of the program and an astonishing 93% at the end.
Tell us about your contribution to the lives of women, their families, and the community.
Here are some stories of the lives that have been touched:
“Empowerment of girls in Kenya”: Rosie Ochola Women’s Coin volunteer returned to her birth village in Kenya to teach orphaned girls how to make jewelry to sell and be self-sufficient. She taught the girls to make jewelry using local stone and material. The sale of the produces purchased a water tank (to reduce the 5 hours a day trip to the water source) and a cow to till the land. Rosie’s experience provided the blueprint for empowerment training for women and girls.
Samira Musse (participant) awarded the Mayor’s Medal for community achievement in recognition of fund-raising, cooking, and delivering meals for children and vulnerable adults in the Somali community during COVID. Disabled individuals also benefit from accessing the Stepping Up education program.
Where do you see the Women’s Coin Foundation in the near future? Tell us in detail about the plans of your company’s expansion in terms of its services that it offers, expansion in terms of types of clients it serves, and geographical presence? Also, please elaborate on the upcoming products and services and the company’s roadmap.
There is a multi-strand expansion plan in place:
What are your achievements to date?
Our top achievement is the creation of Women’s Coin crypto-currency from start-up to trading. But the achievement that means the most to me is creating our Stepping Up program for diversity and inclusion. The initiative has received top national awards, government endorsement and touched the lives of 400 diverse leaders. And this is just the start!
E-education, whether as a commercial offering or free for those in need, has the facility for global spread and scale. On a personal level, being a mother and a role model for other women is important to me. Women’s Coin is my 4th career – neither age nor gender has blocked me in my desire to be an innovator in digital technology for social value.
About the Founder and CEO
Prof. Christine Bamford has been voted top ten global Fintech women leaders and recognized in the Times Crypto-currency supplement as one of 4 Top women in the UK driving crypto-currencies. Women’s Coin is the first global currency of value supporting United Nations SDG on gender equality. Prior to becoming a social entrepreneur, she held top posts in Government and the public sector. Her passion to foster social inclusion and diversity in Bristol led to the creation of the highly successful Stepping Up Diversity leadership programs, winner of the PPMA and southwest Diversity award, and winner of the prestigious Chartered Institute of People Development 2020. She is also a Visiting Professor Edinburgh Napier University.