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Last Mile DeFi 05: Crypto-powered opportunities with James Downer

Hola Last Mile DeFi familia, in this conversation, James laid down the background to the work he is doing with Venezuelan migrants in Colombia as a consequence of the political instability and historical inflation that has affected the country. James has had circular career entering the ecosystem, when back in 2014 he came across Bitcoin being used in Argentina to overcome the cash controls in the country at the time. Since then, James has explored the various ways in which crypto could be leveraged to provide more opportunities for Latin Americans.

https://player.simplecast.com/21f7138e-1373-4f6e-97d1-83d24e90a5b8?display=iframe&height=200px

You will also find the podcast on your preferred content platforms:

Lens | Spotify | Apple | YouTube | Google | Simple Cast

Today, James works on Roda - a project that aims to provide people who are unable to access traditional financial services in Colombia with alternative routes to access financing. Roda works with delivery drivers to offer them micro-loans that eventually give them the opportunity to access higher ticket size loans that give these drivers the opportunity to access loans to purchase motorized bicycles. With the powered bicycles, delivery drivers are immediately able to double their monthly income, drastically improving their livelihoods. Today, Roda has issued over 8,000 individual loans to over 5,000 individual clients throughout Colombia.

Through this conversation, we discuss a future where we can rely on crypto infrastructure to provide better financial services that allow people to verify the extent to which they are reputable actors within an economy, particularly if they are interacting with the informal economy. Roda relies heavily on the social collateral within their ecosystem, which crypto could provide a formal way for the borrowers in their network to formally verify their reputation with any actor, without having to rely on traditional instruments which often do not recognize people’s social capital. James’ work is a testament of the outcomes of grassroots entrepreneurship paired with technological innovation and I look forward to seeing Roda continue to leverage crypto to best provide access to undercollateralized loans in Colombia and beyond!

To stay up to date with the latest findings, you can follow along on Twitter and Lens as well. I’ll be publishing updates on the research and behind the scenes content, so make sure you’re joining us. You can also join us in our Telegram channel too!

Lastly, thank you so much for your feedback on v1 of the report I recently published. There’s still time to review v1 (the open review session will close on March 31st, after which I will go ahead and publish v2 in April), so if you haven’t read it and reviewed it yet, would highly recommend doing so:

https://marcus.mirror.xyz/j9gVZh4HQS1_2jog_uiZ4m69rbzrdSNdAW1sPrQgOow

This research and podcast is produced with the support of:

Ethereum Foundation Fellowship: The Fellowship program is a forum for leaders who are driven by leveraging Ethereum as a public good to help billions of people coordinate and thrive. The Fellowship program aims to support individuals who are passionate about identifying barriers to mass-adoption and breaking down the barriers for underrepresented communities to access crypto.

Celo Foundation: Celo is the blockchain built for the real world. Carbon-negative, mobile-first and EVM-compatible, Celo is leading a thriving new digital economy for all. Build together and prosper.

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