Jay-Z Backed Btrust Acquires African Bitcoin Talent Firm Qala In Bid To Create African Bitcoin Infrastructure
Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey and rapper Jay-Z hooked up in 2021 to create an endowment fund, Btrust. According to Afrotech, the fund was created to invest in the development of Bitcoin in Africa and India. Three of the four board members hail from Nigeria, reflecting the fund’s intended direction.
In 2021, Dorsey announced the Btrust venture on Twitter, writing, “JAY-Z/@S_C_ and I are giving 500 BTC to a new endowment named ₿trust to fund #Bitcoin development, initially focused on teams in Africa & India. It’ll be set up as a blind, irrevocable trust, taking zero direction from us.”
Now, it seems like the fund is delivering on that early promise. Forbes reports that Btrust has acquired Qala, a firm that trains Bitcoin developers and Lightning Network engineers in Africa. The acquisition also created an opportunity to rebrand Qala as the Btrust Builders Program. The two organizations can fill roles that each needs to continue being viable. Btrust needs structures to develop talent, and Qala needs capital, which Btrust has.
Qala’s CEO Femi Longe told Forbes its No. 1 goal was securing capital.
“The challenge is that generosity and sometimes opportunities in Bitcoin kind of tracks with the price of bitcoin just as hiring does, which is the second challenge we faced. So when there is a bear market, bitcoin companies tighten their buckles,” Longe explained.
Qala was created to function as a social enterprise and thus does not earn money; instead, it has relied on grants to stay afloat. However, to pay fellows who make it to the intensive portion of its fellowship, it needed the significant boost in capital that it would receive as part of Btrust.
Longe told Forbes, “We’ve gotten junior to mid-level talent, but how do you attract very senior developers to consider this a viable pathway? I believe with the resources we have access to as part of the trust, the opportunities and the pathways to experiment and explore more in that direction [getting senior talents] increases.”
— jack (@jack) December 15, 2021
Btrust Board member Ojoma Ochai announced their pleasure at the acquisition of Qala, telling Forbes, “We’re incredibly proud to welcome Femi and his excellent team to Btrust,” Ochai explained.
“With Qala’s extensive outreach and world-class programs, the organization has made rapid progress in driving open-source development in the Global South through the advancement of education within the region, which is heavily aligned with our core mission at Btrust.”
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