Weekend Briefing No. 424
Weekend Briefing - A Saturday morning briefing on innovation and society.
Welcome to the weekend.
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100 million—Ukraine has received close to $100 million in crypto donations.
7.6 million—Last year, 7.6 million couples registered marriages in China. That figure is the lowest level since at least 1986, and marriages in China peaked at 13.5 million couples tying the knot in 2013.
36,947—LeBron James passes Karl Malone to move into second on NBA's career scoring list with 36,947 points; the all-time leader Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's record stands at 38,387.
Crypto and Africa
Right now, the African continent receives only 2% of the global value of all cryptocurrencies. But between July 2020 and June 2021, Africans received $105.6 billion worth of cryptocurrency payments—an increase of 1200% from the year before. Notably, Chainalysis ranks Kenya, South Africa and Nigeria among the top 10 countries for cryptocurrency use. Cryptocurrencies are well-positioned to address a number of economic challenges in the region, from reducing financing gaps for micro-, small- and medium-sized enterprise (MSME) sectors to facilitating the transfer of remittances. In fact, of the $48 billion remitted to sub-Saharan Africa in 2019, Chainalysis estimates that up to $562 million worth of remittance payments were facilitated by cryptocurrencies such as Ripple. Cryptos have also accelerated affordable mortgages and are accommodating irregular income patterns that limit credit. Notably, Kenyan regulation has been welcoming of the innovation; Nigeria has not. Brookings (8 minutes)
Metaverse and Business
Here are some benefits of the metaverse for business that every entrepreneur should consider: (1) Virtual products. Beyond the big fashion brands selling millions of dollars of virtual apparel, there may be ways for even small businesses to sell a product in the real world with a nonfungible token (NFT) that is a digital good in the metaverse. (2) Global reach. For brands, the metaverse facilitates the creation of universally accessible experiences for customers across the world. (3) Employee engagement. Instead of staring at a Zoom screen for hours, individuals can collaborate, brainstorm and discuss in a shared, virtual workspace. The metaverse will create an interactive environment where everyone, irrespective of their location, can connect with each other and share ideas. Hackernoon (8 minutes)
The Future of Impact Investing
Direct investing in early-stage companies has historically only been available to wealthy, accredited investors. Anyone can now invest, thanks to advances in SEC regulations and crowdfunding technology. It’s exciting and disruptive—in a good way. CoPeace, a Public Benefit Corporation and Certified B Corp, operates as an impact-focused holding company. If you’re looking to align your investments with your values, you can make multiple positive impacts with a single investment in CoPeace on WeFunder. Funds will be reinvested in existing, mission-aligned companies addressing social and environmental challenges—infrastructure, clean energy and sustainability. Funds raised directly support CoPeace's hand-selected companies to help them grow—for the betterment of shareholders, stakeholders and the world. CoPeace celebrates diversity and welcomes investors from all backgrounds, races, genders and income levels. Visit the WeFunder campaign to learn more. CoPeace (Sponsored)
While there are numerous ways to capture or remove carbon, one big question is which methods will be able to scale rapidly this decade. As the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report released last week reminds us, we need to not only eliminate new emissions but also remove billions of metric tons of CO2 per year in order to meet climate goals. There are two main processes to remove carbon: (1) Point-source carbon capture aims to stop the carbon-dioxide emissions produced by power plants or industrial operations from entering the atmosphere. (2) Direct Air Capture pulls carbon that’s already in the atmosphere out of the air. By 2030, these two technologies need to be able to remove 1.6 billion tons of CO2 annually in order to reach net zero by 2050, according to the International Energy Agency. Today, the industry removes about 40 million tons per year. Morning Brew (12 minutes)
Bitcoin and Refugees
Nearly a quarter of Ukraine’s population has been forced from their homes in the last four weeks. Many have turned to cryptocurrency to safeguard their cash, bring their money with them, accept remittances and donations, and to transact with each other for daily necessities. One Ukrainian refugee took a USB stick with him across the border containing 40% of his life savings, or about $2K in bitcoin. The queues at the ATM were too long and he couldn’t wait to flee, so he converted his saving to bitcoin and fled. CNBC (7 minutes)
Oz and Bimetallism
This week, I learned that The Wizard of Oz is an allegory for the 1896 presidential campaign. It blew my mind, so I had to share. One of the key issues of the campaign was whether the US should be on a “Bimetal” silver and gold monetary policy. Note that the allegorical reading riffs off L. Frank Baum’s book, not the 1939 film. The most pertinent difference between the book and the film is, in the book, the slippers/shoes Dorothy gets from the Wicked Witch of the East are silver, not ruby. So Dorothy journeys clad in silver shoes on the yellow brick (gold) road, to the Land of Oz (“ounce” of gold or silver). Both silver and gold take her there. Bimetallism. Dorothy is whipped out of Kansas by a tornado with her little dog “Toto” (short for teetotalers, who made a loud noise yip-yapping but were otherwise ineffective political companions). On her way to the Land of Oz, Dorothy picks up her electoral coalition. First, the Scarecrow, representing western farmers. Next, the Tin Man (or Tin Woodman). The working class man, once a true human, is now just a cog in the industrial machine. The Cowardly Lion, then, was William Jennings Bryan himself. Capable of a great roar—his speeches were legendary—alas, he couldn’t get things done. Law & Liberty (9 minutes)
Ron Finley plants vegetable gardens in South Central LA—in abandoned lots, traffic medians, along the curbs. Why? For fun, for defiance, for beauty and to offer some alternative to fast food in a community where "the drive-thrus are killing more people than the drive-bys.” Check out his amazing talk. TED (11 minutes)
Will by Will Smith. Will Smith’s transformation from a West Philadelphia kid to one of the biggest rap stars of his era, and then one of the biggest movie stars in Hollywood history, is an epic tale—but it’s only half the story. Will Smith thought, with good reason, that he had won at life. Not only was his own success unparalleled, but his whole family was also at the pinnacle of the entertainment world. Only they didn't see it that way: They felt more like star performers in his circus, a seven-days-a-week job they hadn't signed up for. It turned out Will Smith's education wasn't nearly over. This memoir is the product of a profound journey of self-knowledge, a reckoning with all that your will can get you and all that it can leave behind. Buy Now
Most Read Last Week
Building Startup Culture—If you’re intentional, your startup can design good culture.
Pre-Seed Pitch Deck—Venture Capitals (VCs) spend an average of four minutes and 10 seconds evaluating pre-seed pitch decks.
Rural Cooking—As the internet reaches villages, rural societies are finding ways to showcase and monetize their unique food cultures to audiences across the world, using platforms like YouTube and Facebook.
The Weekend Briefing is a Saturday morning briefing on innovation and society by Kyle Westaway—Managing Partner of Westaway and author of Profit & Purpose. Photo by Alfonso Cenname.
In addition to the Weekend Briefing, I write a monthly briefing on startup funding called Funding Fridays. I review the startup funding deals from the past month and deliver a concise summary to you on the first Friday of every month. If you’re interested, click here to subscribe to Funding Fridays.
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People need to realize how powerful the transformation of soil can be. –Ron Finley
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