This Market is the Future, it is Important to be Part of it – an interview with Leïla Keita, Mathis Gontier Delaunay and Matthias Vallet

“Blockchain and cryptos are often considered as leapfrogging solutions for the African continent so it is important for Kabakoo to train young Africans and open much-needed debates about the economic, social and environmental issues related to these technologies. We are very pleased to welcome Matthias and Mathis of KRYPTOSPHERE® in our CryptoMasters series at Kabakoo. The Kabakoo CryptoMasters series is the first comprehensive course dedicated to blockchain and cryptos in Mali and the broader Sahel region,” says Leïla Keita.

Leïla Keita is the Partnership Officer at Kabakoo Academies, a multi-award-winning panafrican EdTech offering training to equip African youth to own the 4th Industrial Revolution. Kabakoo tackles youth unemployment by connecting youth, local communities, and open-minded people from all over the world to collaboratively solve real-life challenges while using high-tech and indigenous knowledges.

Mathis Gontier Delaunay is the Head of the IMT Paris departement at KRYPTOSPHERE®, the first and biggest french student association working on blockchain and cryptocurrencies. A student at Telecom SudParis, he is currenty working as a Software engineer intern at Nomadic Labs, a company pursuing R&D on the Tezos blockchain. Furthermore, Mathis is co-founder and smart-contract developer for Morpho, a DeFi app launching at the end of the year.

Matthias Vallet was working as pre-sales engineer in networks and telecoms, and has recently joined Cryptoast, one of the reference media in the cryptocurrency market in France. While studying engineering, he devotes a lot of time to KRYPTOSPHERE®, promoting blockchains and cryptocurrencies.

Sebastian Klemm: What is the contexts and challenges that Kabakoo Academies responds to, and what makes sustainability focused tech education relevant in this regard?

Leïla Keita [Kabakoo]: Since 2018, Kabakoo has been building a pan-African learning platform delivering transformative learning experiences to vulnerable youths across Africa, through a unique learning model based on “Highdigenous Tech”. That means we leverage best-of-class active and blended learning to deploy sustainability-focused 4th-Industrial-Revolution-skills by fusing high-tech with indigenous knowledge.

Our mission is to tackle the issue of youth unemployment in Africa. According to the African Development Bank, every single year more than 10 million young Africans struggle to enter the local job markets. Less than 20% will end up in decent employment. The others will face unemployment, the precariousness of informal and non-decent jobs, or forced migration. No wonder, more than 40% of young Africans joining rebel movements do so because of lack of economic opportunities!

Kabakoo has a strong understanding of these problems and offers a bold solution through our learning app fueling our 3-in-1 hub: part makerspace, part university, part innovation lab. Our 6 to 18 months blended-learning programs bring together young Africans and an international network of mentors to work on tech projects answering local problems. Our approach reconnects education to local contexts and equip youths with skills to collaboratively imagine and implement solutions leading to lifelong-learning and make emerge thriving ecosystems.

Sebastian Klemm: Can you elaborate on examples where you managed to bridge local & traditional, indigenous knowledge with state-of-the-art technology at Kabakoo Academies?

Leïla Keita [Kabakoo]: We have daily examples since the alliance of high-tech and local knowledge is at the core of our learning model. I can give two illustrations of our Highdigenous approach put into practice within our learning community.

Firstly, Kabakoo is the only EdTech that includes, in its community of mentors, experts in both cutting-edge technologies and traditional knowledges. During the same week, our learners can follow masterclasses on Bitcoin, Drone Tech or additive manufacturing; and workshops on the role of the ancient manuscripts from Timbuktu or the innovation techniques of Malian blacksmiths.

Secondly, our learners successfully leverage our Highdigenous training in their entrepreneurship projects. They design and implement locally relevant solutions to real life problems encountered by their communities. For example, after a 7-months training, three learners founded Kouraya, a company which upcycles plastic waste into 3D-printing filament and craftworks. Another team, Sene Yiriwa, brings IoT to Malian agriculture. They design smart stations for the automatic irrigation of plantations and the collect of meteorological data.

Sebastian Klemm: In September KRYPTOSPHERE® and Kabakoo Academies collaborate to provide online trainings for learners in Mali. What will your courses be about, and what do you prepare as key take aways for participants?

Mathis Gontier Delaunay [KRYPTOSPHERE®]: My course will be about Decentralized Finance, its operation and what it brings. Since April, I am building a DeFi protocol called Morpho, which aims to create competitive money markets, so I hope to be able to bring a technical point of view that we do not see that often on DeFi , on smart-contracts and internal operation.

Matthias Vallet [KRYPTOSPHERE®]: For my part, I am going to address the topic of Non-Fungible Tokens, NFTs in short, which is all the buzz right now! The goal will be to explain how it works and how to get it. Being a fan of this concept, I want to give some tips and feedback as well.

Leïla Keita [Kabakoo]: We are very pleased to welcome Matthias and Mathis of KRYPTOSPHERE® in our CryptoMasters series at Kabakoo. Since May 2021, this series has welcomed blockchain and cryptocurrencies experts to introduce these technologies to our learners and guide them through the opportunities and challenges they represent. The Kabakoo CryptoMasters series is the first comprehensive course dedicated to blockchain and cryptos in Mali and the broader Sahel region.

Sebastian Klemm: What is your motivation to disseminate your aquired tech knowledge at KRYPTOSPHERE® through educational trainings?

Matthias Vallet [KRYPTOSPHERE®]: The cryptocurrency ecosystem is vast and one can easily get lost. The goal of our educational trainings is to provide a reference point on which participants can rely on. The aim of our association KRYPTOSPHERE® is to share knowledge in order to make people understand the market that is available to everyone and to see the future prospects. This market is the future, it is important to be part of it!

Mathis Gontier Delaunay [KRYPTOSPHERE®]: I got into blockchain when arriving at KRYPTOSPHERE® in September of 2020. Since then, I have spent hours of training myself in many ways, be that technical ressources on the internet, be that large conferences and webinars that I attended as well as KRYPTOSPHERE® trainings. The latter has been my favorite, as I think that informal dialogue with passionate people is the best way to learn. Now, I want to offer this to other people. Moreover, getting your ideas straight to provide an educational course is also a very good way to progress.

Sebastian Klemm: In a previous interview, Nadja Bester of Social Impact Network emphasizes: “Social Impact Network has identified a way to inject liquidity into Least Developed Countries by creating a new breed of impact investors. Social Impact Network leverages the rapid growth of Decentralized Finance (DeFi). By using blockchain, the ecosystem addresses many of the challenges faced by the traditional impact investing sector, which over time will serve to introduce DeFi to a whole new cohort of investors.”

What in your point of view is critical to break down barriers to involvement in local developments and to democratize investment opportunities for everyone?

Leïla Keita [Kabakoo]: The investment flows towards social impact ventures and projects can surely be more transparent in regard of who gets funded and why.

At Kabakoo, we believe that DeFi can definitely be a tool for organizations like ourselves radically working toward epistemic justice. We are hence testing different approaches to fundraise in the crypto world. If anyone is ready to join forces with us in that aspect, please just reach out!

Moreover, we are launching the Kabakoo NFT Collection for Highdigenous Tech together with an international collective of artists who are committed to support our work through their NFTs.

Matthias Vallet [KRYPTOSPHERE®]: At first, it is necessary to educate the population to this New World. Next, it is necessary to make them understand how it revolutionizes their daily lifes. Decentralized finance (DeFi) is a very good entry point, but we need to understand how it works and what the risks are. Once this is done, it is important to take applications that are very user friendly. There are a lot of them and this allows you to invest quickly without having problems with the interface. I think this is the minimum to democratize the investment.

Mathis Gontier Delaunay [KRYPTOSPHERE®]: Blockchain does not have any frontiers, and theoretically you could access the same networks and decentralized apps from anywhere in the world. Education is the key here to put everyone on the same level. Plus, the access to cryptocurrencies still often requires going through centralized services. Thus, it is also important to have access to such, as well as an adapted regulatory framework.

Sebastian Klemm: How do you see education about cryptocurrencies and decentralized finance empowering local communities to create and own the solutions that they want and need?

Leïla Keita [Kabakoo]: Blockchain and cryptos are often considered as leapfrogging solutions for the African continent so it is important for Kabakoo to train young Africans and open much-needed debates about the economic, social and environmental issues related to these technologies. Our mentors equip our learners with practical skills and share good practices on cryptocurrencies, blockchain, NFT, DeFi, etc. Our learners can hence use these technologies to solve local problems or strengthen an existing project while being aware of potential limitations and drawbacks.

Matthias Vallet [KRYPTOSPHERE®]: Cryptocurrencies are revolutionizing the world of finance without eliminating it. However, some people have problems to create a bank account and in that cryptomoney redistribute the cards, because it is no longer necessary to have an account in a bank. But without education, it is difficult to know what solutions one can use. So thanks to the courses one can easily, understand the solutions and uses of the world of cryptomoney and use it on a daily basis to satisfy needs that one cannot in the traditional world.

Mathis Gontier Delaunay [KRYPTOSPHERE®]: Decentralized ledger technologies are, at least for those that are public, by nature distributed and accessible with an internet connection all over the world. But that doesn’t mean that its advances benefit everyone. It is a revolution in term of currency, and of technology, and like every other revolution, it is appropriate for all regions of the world not to miss it. There are many opportunities to be seized. And to take part in the revolution, it starts by understanding it. That is why education is very important.

If you are interested in this topic of sovereignty in the cryptocurrency and blockchain sector, you can follow this panel where I together with five very knowledgeable experts discussed this subject together with five very knowledgeable experts in the “Crypto finance forum” of ADAN, an association for the development of digital assets. Our discussion was held in French:

Sebastian Klemm: How do you make sure that mediated knowledge from you course will be actionable in the learners environments?

Leïla Keita [Kabakoo]: The pedagogical team chose to design a series around blockchain and cryptos because it opened a space for innovation and future-oriented projects that could answer many African challenges, i.a. health, entrepreneurship and financial services.

Since learning at Kabakoo is learner-centered and project-based, each learner owns their learning journey according to their passion and pace. We train them to go outside the campus’ walls and meet people and surrounding communities to understand their needs, and come back to work on a concrete solution. Thus, we make sure that our learners put knowledges into practice in locally relevant projects.

Mathis Gontier Delaunay [KRYPTOSPHERE®]: First I will quickly take back all the notion approached from scratch, to make sure that anyone can learn something in each part of the training. I will also let enough time for the Q&A part, but especially will stay available to the learners after, to answer all their questions and share resources for the most interested.

Matthias Vallet [KRYPTOSPHERE®]: The goal of these courses is to understand the concept we are presenting. We then show how to access it in the easiest way. What I like to do is to use a real life example to help people understand quickly. This also allows us to anchor memories in within learners so that it will be easier for them to talk about it in their communities.

Sebastian Klemm: With regard to sustainable value creation: What opportunities are you creating for participants in order to support the continuation & application of gained knowledge beyond the course?

Leïla Keita [Kabakoo]: The CryptoMasters series is leading to the activation of a group of learners passionate about this subject. The group collaboratively deepens the masterclasses (through the replays) and go further through self-learning, improving their knowledge from beginner to an intermediate level.

Our learners can combine the learning from the different Kabakoo trainings – such as 3D-printing, digital manufacturing, drone tech, design thinking, handicraft, art, culture – to acquire the necessary skills to generate value by starting small-scale distributed businesses that fit local realities.

Mathis Gontier Delaunay [KRYPTOSPHERE®]: Decentralized finance is opening complex financial services to everyone with an internet connection, in the same way as the internet did it for the access of knowledge and information. Thus, understanding it and being able to potentially use it for ones personal finance is a real opportunity. It can also be a front door to smart-contract and decentralized applications development. The industry is really young, there is a lot of room to start businesses, and there are already a lot of jobs available.

Matthias Vallet [KRYPTOSPHERE®]: In my educational course, I would like to show the possibilities that this technology will bring. For NFTs, I show examples of how our lives will look like due to them. Furthermore, my goal is to provide a solid foundation that participants can build on even years from now.

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