Hakeem Disu: Providing crypto loans to empower the underserved
Hakeem Disu is a business strategist, blockchain consultant, and also an entrepreneur with interdisciplinary experience and a passion for educating people.
Disu is the founder of KoinWa – a cryptocurrency loan application targeted at providing loans to the underserved in various communities. The platform also offers an escrow-based peer-to-peer bitcoin trading feature.
The young entrepreneur belongs to a class of entrepreneurs who are on a mission to do big and innovative things while addressing societal problems.
He was inspired to establish KoinWa in November 2019 owing to his passion to educate Nigerians on crypto and bitcoin as its trading was beginning to gain momentum in the country.
“Koinwa started as a need to educate people about bitcoin/crypto after a friend gave me some bitcoin and I just abandoned it and months later when I checked it out the value had increased,” he says.
“The curiosity of understanding bitcoin as a value of exchange was what led to the establishment of koinWa,” he explains.
“My excitement about the potential of bitcoin led my friends to see me as the go-to person for anything crypto and I started making money from helping people buy, understand and use bitcoin and at a point, I decided to turn the activity to a company,” he adds.
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With KoinWa, Hakeem is now offering loans in bitcoins to smallholder farmers, small businesses, and individuals. This, according to him, is helping to bring many out of poverty as they can easily secure loans for their businesses and personal needs.
Since starting, the business has grown steadily but has had to redesign its offering after the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) placed a ban on crypto transactions in the country.
“Like any typical start-up, it’s been through lots of high and lows, a typical example is when we initially concluded the first version of our product (KoinWa) trading app then the apex bank prohibition on banks being involved in cryptocurrencies happened then we had to redesign immediately to an escrow-based peer-to-peer platform following the announcement and a lot of resources has been used to get to the product launch,” he explains.
“The business has grown beyond our expectations,” the young entrepreneur notes.
Speaking on the impact of the CBN’s ban, he says the ban has been favourable to his business as KoinWa is currently growing exponentially.
“Because we had to change our business model from solely exchange to bitcoin peer-to-peer trading application with an introduction of a cryptocurrency loan product made us realize and maximize our full potential as a cryptocurrency exchange,” he says. The business currently has eleven full employees.
He notes that the business plans to scale its presence and operation across Africa. “Our next plan is to move to East Africa and use Kigali, Rwanda as our office to serve other East African countries,” he says.
“Egypt for North Africa and South Africa for South Africans,” he further says.
Explaining what blockchain is, he says it can be seen as a distributed ledger technology, which ensures that the history of the digital assets is not altered or manipulated in any form.
He adds blockchain is still underutilised as it can be used in the area of electronic voting, health record, the land record among others.
He notes that any country and economy that is not adopting blockchain technology in the 21st century will be left behind.
He states that it is easier to transfer money in seconds through cryptocurrencies owing to the absence of an intermediary or third party involved during the transaction.
Speaking on the future of cryptocurrencies in the country, he believes that bitcoin is the currency for Africans and considering its massive adoption in the country.
Evaluating Nigeria’s tech space, he notes that opportunities still abound. He says Nigeria’s tech ecosystem is its new oil refinery while bitcoin is the new crude. On major challenges facing the business, he says finding the right people and striking a balance has been a major hurdle confronting the business.