There's no question that blockchain is disrupting the financial services industry...and well everything! Some FinTech founders are going above and beyond with a mission to use the technology to improve entire communities. I recently met with Tavonia Evans, Founder and CEO of Guap Coin, to talk about the power of blockchain to create social change before she takes the stage at the Empire FinTech Conference, on June 27 in Toronto.
It seems to us that you can’t walk down the street these days without someone mentioning crypto! What inspired you to get into cryptocurrencies?
I knew that as a technology person (and a woman of color), I needed to jump in quickly to add value back to my community. I didn’t want us to be left out. My 8 children have helped me strengthen my efforts and guided me to get things done; they have been a source of inspiration.
You created Guap Coin, built on ethereum, to serve African-American consumers and reward spending in the African American owned business ecosystem. How does your product work? And why did you choose the name Guap?
Guap Coin serves to “tokenize” black spending. We feel that within our community far too many of our dollars go elsewhere and fail to benefit us. Our intention is using blockchain as a vehicle for capturing our spending and measuring the impact on black-owned businesses.
The numbers provide evidence of the problem: the black community spends 3 trillion dollars per year and very little part of that comes back to the community that it’s originating from. We are heavy influencers of industries like music and fashion but we don’t benefit from that. Guap seeks to connect that influence to actual people in the community. Not only so people can see what influence the community has through overall spending, but also to empower the community to see where their own purchasing power can have influence. Most people don’t know that or understand the value.
As for the name, Guap is urban vernacular for money (lots of it), I chose that name because it would make explaining cryptocurrency a lot easier!
Guap recently underwent a token sale, what would you recommend other startups that are thinking about raising funds via an ICO and what was the biggest pain point in this process?
Right now, the legal constraints around ICOs are such that you need access to great advisors. Some of us are lacking access to funds as it is, so it’s unfortunate that if we continue to go down this path - the ICO model will not be accessible to those who do not have the funds.
What are your thoughts on what is needed to make blockchain more inclusive?
There are lots of women-led projects out there that are doing an exceptional job. I think it also depends on the definition of ‘inclusion’, while some people may think that certain initiatives are door openers, the reality is that people might still feel left out.
The change has to happen on the ground level, from a grassroots perspective. People should be more aware about blockchain and they should not be so surprised about a woman of color being in crypto
Tavonia recalls how as she was crossing the border into Brussels a couple of days ago and the border patrol agent was positively surprised that she was visiting the country to speak at a crypto conference and wanted to hear more about it.
Blockchain has to be amplified in its uses on a day-to-day basis. I find myself in conferences where people talk on a theoretical level and from a professional standpoint, but not from a ground level perspective. I believe education is the key and we must teach people what blockchain is about. Media is heavily influencing the idea that crypto is about speculating, but its not.
We live in an era of blockchain - everyone is talking about its potential to disrupt entire industries - do you think blockchain can help solve fundamental issues for any community?
Our model can be expanded into any community. For example, it could be used by the Latino community to prove their impact on the country’s economy. From a political standpoint, it’s relevant to prove some opposing voices that say that those communities are not successful and do not contribute to the economy.
Hear more from Tavonia Evans and 35 other speakers at the Empire FinTech Conference, June 27th at The Great Hall, Toronto. Featuring panels on AI, Blockchain, Venture Capital, B2B Innovation, RegTech and six hot FinTech demos. Meet and network with the founders of Borrowell, Flybits, Alloy, Azlo, Cashaa, Mylo and more!