Btrust and Qala Join Forces to Drive Bitcoin Development in Africa
This acquisition is significant as it represents a harmonious collaboration between two entities that share a common objective – advancing Bitcoin development within the African continent.
By Anna B Kiwanuka
Btrust, the non-profit organization backed by Block CEO Jack Dorsey and rapper Jay-Z, committed to promoting Bitcoin development in Africa and India, has made a strategic acquisition. On September 1st, Btrust successfully acquired Qala, an organization that specializes in training African Bitcoin and Lightning engineers. As part of this merger, Qala has undergone a rebranding and now operates under the name of the Btrust Builders Programme.
This acquisition is significant as it represents a harmonious collaboration between two entities that share a common objective – advancing Bitcoin development within the African continent. Btrust, which was initially endowed with 500 BTC upon its inception, possesses the financial resources required for this mission. However, it lacks the structural framework to cultivate a sustainable pipeline of African Bitcoin talent, relying primarily on grants to fulfill its mandate. Conversely, Qala possesses the necessary organizational structure but has faced challenges in securing sufficient financial resources.
CEO Femi Longe of Qala openly acknowledged the organization’s primary challenge – a lack of funding. Qala was originally conceived as a social enterprise and does not generate revenue. Instead, it has relied on grants from various organizations, including the Human Rights Foundation and Coinbase Giving.
Longe elaborated on the financial obstacles, stating that the generosity and opportunities within the Bitcoin space often correlate with the cryptocurrency’s price fluctuations, leading to uncertainty during bear markets. Furthermore, attracting senior-level engineers to transition into Bitcoin development presents an additional financial hurdle, as these individuals typically expect a commensurate stipend as part of their participation in the program. Their importance lies in their ability to swiftly solve complex challenges compared to their junior and mid-level counterparts.
Longe emphasized the potential of having access to the resources available through Btrust, which could help create more pathways for senior talent to explore opportunities in Bitcoin development.
As part of the acquisition, Femi Longe and Stephanie Titcombe, program manager at Qala, will take on leadership roles within Btrust as program leads for the newly formed Btrust Builders Program. This program is now shifting its focus toward open-source training and extending invitations to senior African software developers to participate in Bitcoin and Lightning development initiatives.
Ojoma Ochai, a Btrust Board Member, expressed excitement about the collaboration, acknowledging Qala’s extensive reach and outstanding programs, which have played a pivotal role in advancing open-source development in the Global South. This aligns closely with Btrust’s core mission.
Bernard Parah, co-founder, and director of Qala, emphasized the accelerated progress towards their mission of cultivating a substantial number of African engineers with expertise in leveraging Bitcoin to address the continent’s unique socio-economic challenges. The merger with Btrust is seen as a significant step forward in achieving this objective.