Linda Obi is a blockchain entrepreneur and educator who has been in the tech space for more than eighteen years now. After occupying a number of leadership positions in tech startups, she decided to spread her wings.
She has now grown to become the Global Head of Operations at Zenith Chain and founder/CEO of Techonomy Africa. She is also leading the charge of female inclusion in the African crypto space by chairing Women in Crypto Africa.
In an interview, Linda narrates her experience, and her efforts in driving crypto adoption and female inclusion in the space.
Getting into blockchain
Linda Obi says it all started when she was the business leader at FarmCrowdy. They were looking for ways to execute contracts digitally and then she stumbled upon a smart contract for the first time.
Out of curiosity, she discovered it was a vertical of the blockchain. She started exploring its possibilities and read everything she could around it.
“…when Covid started, a lot of talks about crypto and NFTs were up and I started paying attention to that as well. Then I remember the EndSARS crisis, the protest where youths were protesting against bad governance and police brutality and the conveners had the fiat account frozen. What happened was that a lot of people started transacting via crypto.”
She found blockchain intriguing because of the possibilities it holds.
“I really like that it is very immutable. The weakness is that it’s early here in Africa and most continents that are developing, and not everybody understands. It’s fast-paced, you need to be on your toes to keep up.
According to Linda, the technology transcends the possibilities of the usual business environment and can be used to build products in any industry. Her only concern is the possibility of over-regulation.
“The regulatory landscape is a turbulent one. I think it’s not only in Africa, I think it’s a global issue. The FEDs are on it, there is a lot of scrutiny around blockchain. I think that is causing the lack of mass adoption that we should be seeing already. I am calling for progressive regulatory conversations already because… in the coming days and coming months, the question will be: would blockchain exchanges replace banks? We are looking at the possibilities of what the future holds.”
Linda on building Techonomy Africa
Techonomy Africa is a learn-to-earn platform that teaches Blockchain enthusiasts and students how to leverage the technology.
Linda Obi says it all started at the EndSARS protest ground. She found out that there was so much talk about crypto, but not everybody understood what it meant and what it stood for. Observing the information gap, she rose up to become a strong voice in crypto and she decided to build a blockchain forum where people can learn what it’s about.
“I found out that so many people attribute blockchain to crypto. I feel crypto is just ten per cent of blockchain use cases and there are other use cases of blockchain. So we started a WhatsApp group talking to people about crypto. It was more like a blockchain forum. Before you know it grew very fast, we had a WhatsApp group filled up, and then we had five. Then it was no longer sustainable at all so we decided to build our site portal where people can go learn about crypto. And that birth Techonomy Africa that you see today.”
According to Linda Obi, Techonomy Africa was built on the principles of awareness creation, adoption driving and advocacy.
“We discovered tips and nuggets weren’t enough so we advanced to short videos and lessons where people can really come in and learn for free. So we built the first website, it was first like a blog then the classrooms. We scaled as we saw the need to scale. It has been God and grace. People say we’re impacting by building the first ever earn-to-learn DAO, we don’t really have that in Africa so we are fixing market features around that part.”
Techonomy is at the forefront of crypto promotion and adoption in Africa. According to its founder/CEO Linda Obi, they are committed to equipping youths with the necessary digital skills because a lot of jobs are going to be replaced by AI in the coming years. She speaks on her vision:
“We are just interested in skilling up millennials and Gen Zs. A lot of jobs are going obsolete. A lot of jobs are going to be replaced by AIs in the coming years, so if you’re not relevantly skilling up I’m sorry you’re going to be left behind. We are solving the problem of poverty by skilling up young Africans with the relevant skills to pursue jobs that are in development. About the recruitment process, you’ll first join our community. Just go on the website, pick a course that interests you at that time. We have three grades of courses: beginners, intermediate and advanced. What we do to encourage people to come in and retain them through the levels. As you come in as a beginner you take some courses that are short and implementable. When you’re done with the course you proceed to take the quiz around the course just to be sure that you understand everything that has been said. If you make it through the quiz part, you get incentivized with the ADA token. We are choosing Ada token because of the sustainability part around it. A lot of people have opened their first crypto wallet ever just because they joined our community.”
Gender inequality in the crypto space
Linda Obi believes the ratio of men to women in the tech space is overwhelmingly huge. The women folk is sparsely represented in the African blockchain demography.
And, as the chair of Women in Crypto Africa, Linda Obi is committed to driving more female participation.
“ I think the tech industry lacks female representation and the blockchain is not excluded from that lack of representation. What we are doing is to create spaces for women to come in and do their thing.”
Also, Linda Obi think that women in the industry are not fairly treated. She says females don’t get enough amplification and VCs are usually not interested in women-led startups.
“I just feel like first off we don’t get as much amplification as we should. We don’t get so many people to amplify our messages. The VCs are not really interested in female-led startups. Most of the people that get fund raises are usually men. We need to convince a lot of women to come into this space. What is good for the goose is also good for the gander. I have seen a lot of women come in and thrive. I have seen a lot of women come in to do exceptionally wonderful things.
In order to encourage more women in the space, Linda believes that the forebearers need to do more than encourage the younger women. They need to create space for the younger ones.
“As much as we amplify, we also as ladies need to create spaces for girls. We recently announced a partnership with Ekolance and we are pushing that narrative to balance the gender misrepresentation in crypto and blockchain. That’s another one, it serves as the first few steps we’ve been taking to actually drive a lot of representation and female inclusion in the space.”
On Zenith Chain, NFTs and the future
Linda Obi is the Global Head of Operations at Zenith Chain, a decentralised and secured blockchain firm. Commenting on the uniqueness and distinctive feature that makes Zenith Chain stand out amidst other blockchain companies, she says:
“First off, we’ve launched out the first ever web3 platform where we have nicely integrated decentralised finance, centralised finance and an NFT marketplace. There’s no other body doing this, it’s called Vision X. That’s our product that was launched two weeks ago. The traction has been unbelievable.
NFTs, alongside Web3 and the metaverse are currently buzzwords of the internet. NFT is believed to be the future of ownership and indeed the internet. Linda Obi is of the opinion that the concept is huge and is still a work in progress.
“A lot of people view NFT as a bubble simply because they don’t understand the technology around it. I personally do think that the technology is not finite yet, there is a lot of work going on in the back that we really do not know about.”
“Anyone that has it has just a JPEG of it. A lot of people say why should I buy an NFT when I can actually jpeg, they are two different things. NFTs are not a bubble, we just need to be patient, wait until tech fully iterates and then we can continue to build up on that but I think nfts are here to stay whether we like it or not.” – She add.
Going forward, Linda Obi, says that she would continue to contribute their quota to the crypto space.
“Watch out for what we’re building on Zenith Chain, I mean no exchange is coming close and I say this confidently. I am confident in the team, I’m confident in our work, I’m confident in the modelling, I’m confident in what we’re building.”
She also told me that Techonomy Africa is going to be at the forefront of crypto awareness/adoption and the community is planning on entering the metaverse.
First, we are going to find Techonomy Africa on the metaverse, we are already concluding talks around that. We are going to have classes in the metaverse so please get your oculus headset already. It’s going to be a very immersive experience. But Through and through, I mean just watch the space, I’m passionate about the power and possibilities of blockchain and all its use cases.”
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