Entrepreneurship Without Borders

September 30, 2016

The Blockchain Border Bank project was presented on September 29, 2016 to the MIT Sloan School of Management Entrepreneurship Without Borders class taught by Simon Johnson, Michael Casey and Brian Forde.

The goal of the presentation was to explain the current landscape of undocumented border communities, savings circles and and a Community Bank that Caitlin Stilin-Rooney is working with on the Dominican Republic/Haiti border. Dazza Greenwood described the research agenda underlying the Blockchain Border Bank at law.MIT.edu at the MIT Media Lab.

The key research topics discussed were core identity upon which financial, political and other identity systems rest. The other key research topic discussed was the provable value, readiness and fit of blockchain technologies as a near-term solution in this challenging context.

Caitlin's talking points for the class presentation are included below:

Blockchain Border Bank
Entrepreneurship Without Borders 

September 29, 2016

Landscape: Jimaní is a border town in the Dominican Republic located 3km from border with Haiti. There are a  number of critical issues that restrict development including: social, economic and environmental vulnerability,  natural disasters, political tension, limited accountability, unsustainable practices, limited jobs, local and unstable border markets, informal trade and contraband, amongst others. 

The Blockchain Border Bank project focuses on the most vulnerable groups living in the Dominican Republic: women, displaced groups, Haitian immigrants and Haitian temporary workers.

One solution: The Community Bank was set up in 2013-2014  to provide financial services to undocumented populations. There are currently 7 groups of 25 families each. Groups are led by a President (who must have their Dominican citizenship) and then takes out loans on behalf of the group. The group meets twice a month to pay back the loans to the President and the bank and is also when money is collected for savings.

Current State of Technology within Community Bank

  • Percentage of people with mobile phones?  20%
  • Smart phones?  5%
  • Mobile money?  No
  • How is data and records stored?  Paper
  • Is there enough data to do some analysis?  Maybe

Goal: Economic Independence, Documentation

What we need: 

  • Funds to capitalize a Revolving Loan Fund
  • Business approaches to challenges facing undocumented Haitian communities living on the Dominican/Haiti border. Challenges include: 
  • Infrastructure 
  • Identity
  • Access to finance 

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