Mama Bitcoin: Fishing for female empowerment with crypto in West Africa

Mama Bitcoin is the pseudonym of a young Senegalese bitcoiner named Bineta. Bleu comme la Mer, her business, was the first to accept cryptocurrency as payment. Her family is also the first to learn and write fluently.

Mama Bitcoin is named after the initials of her first name. The “mama”, which reflects her maternal instincts, inspires other women from West Africa to explore blockchain technology and Bitcoin (BTC). Cointelegraph spoke with her:

“There are not many women who are involved in the blockchain space in the world, and it is even worse in Senegal.” I wanted to highlight the role of women in crypto.

Bineta discovered Bitcoin for the first time in 2017 through a strange combination of incongruous circumstances and good intentions. Bineta dreamed of opening her village’s first baker, in a small fishing community called Mbour, 90 minutes south from Senegal capital, Dakar. Bineta was in dire need of money to provide warm pains au chocolat each morning to her community.

Mbour village beach, Senegal

It is extremely difficult to obtain a loan from a bank in West Africa for a business idea. This is even more so for women. Bineta needed to find alternative ways. Bineta tried multi-level marketing (MLM), before hearing from a friend from Cameroon that Bitcoin might be a good option.

Bineta was sparked by her curiosity after extensive research. Bineta quickly realized that Bitcoin was more important to her vision than any potentially risky MLM scheme. Now, Mama Bitcoin was in mid-2017. She had spent hours reading Bitcoin-related content in French as well as English, translating wherever possible.

She had come to the conclusion that Bitcoin was more than a “number-go up” technology. It could also build much more than a new village bakery.

“The more I learned, I realized that we have this. This type of money can help solve many problems. Bitcoin is not only a tool to freedom; the technology behind Bitcoin, such as blockchain or decentralization, will also change Africa’s development.

Bineta’s plans were shifted by the journey down the Bitcoin rabbit hole. Bineta joked that it was called the Bitcoin Boulangerie, but it was eventually abandoned and replaced by a vision of Bitcoin in West Africa.

Her understanding of Bitcoin grew as Bitcoin prices rose during 2017’s bull run.

“Bitcoin doesn’t provide a simple way to self-finance without having to use a bank. It’s a technological revolution that unlocks growth and development in Senegal.”

She kept thinking about the questions she was asking herself, such as: “Why is it so large yet so few Senegalese talk about it? Why is the media avoiding it? Why doesn’t Senegal utilize this tool? And why are so few women talking about this?”

Bineta began to write articles about Bitcoin via social media sites, reaching out the Senegalese crypto and Bitcoin community, and then reevaluating her goals.

Bineta drew on her past business experience and the fact that Senegal is close to the Atlantic, she allowed herself to dream larger. Bleu comme la Mer was her ambitious seaside business.

Bleu comme la Mer is a platform for fishing commerce. It connects fishermen directly to consumers and removes the middleman. It is the first business to accept Bitcoin payments in Senegal. They accept Ether (ETH), and Tezos(XTZ) as payment. Mama Bitcoin actually founded the Tezos West Africa community.

You can buy cryptocurrency with the platform to purchase sardines, shrimp, octopus, and squid – anything that can be fished out of the Atlantic — as well as octopus, squid, and oysters. Bineta says:

“Payment using cryptocurrencies shows that Bitcoin, contrary to popular belief, is a peer–to–peer payment solution and not a speculative investment.”

Bineta shows a potential buyer how crypto can be used to purchase fish. Source: Mama Bitcoin

Blockchain vision goes beyond cryptocurrency payments. Bineta’s goal is to make Bleu comme la Mer a decentralized ecommerce platform that allows fishermen to log their catch and where consumers can see the exact details of what was caught.

The platform is not only designed to streamline fishing, but also aims to reduce overfishing, which is a common yet harmful activity in West Africa’s waterways.

Related: A man plans to Orange Pill a Nation: Bitcoin Senegal

However, Senegalese and West Africans remain skeptical about Bitcoin. It is a long-standing problem to get more women involved in crypto, which she considers a passion project.

There is still hope. Three women were among the 20 participants at Dakar’s 2022 first-ever in-person Bitcoin meeting. It’s a modest but solid start, undoubtedly helped by Mama Bitcoin’s infectious enthusiasm and zest for cryptocurrency.

Celebrate Senegal’s victory in The Africa Cup of Nations football tournament. Source: Mama Bitcoin