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DEKI - Can Blockchain Transform Microfinance in Sub-Saharan Africa?

Microfinance enables people living in poverty to become financially independent. The benefits of ethical microloans really are striking. Simply put, they create jobs. Can blockchain transform microfinance?

Bryony from DEKI explains more about their mission and the current technological developments that are transforming microfinance.

Deki, a Bristol-based microfinance charity, provides small, ethical loans with business and social training to remote and marginalized African communities. Through its innovative crowdfunding website, Deki raises capital to lend to people who would otherwise be excluded from the opportunity to access a loan from a bank. Deki lenders help entrepreneurs grow successful businesses – a sewing machine can create a tailoring business, a water pump increases a farmer’s yield.

100% of the lenders’ money goes directly to their chosen entrepreneur, and when the loan is repaid, it can be re-lent. Deki doesn’t charge any fees for making a loan; instead, it fundraises separately for operational and development costs. Microfinance grew in popularity in the mid-2000s but later came under criticism because it was found to have high-interest rates and created over-indebtedness.

Deki partners with local NGOs and experts on the ground to overcome these issues. Deki entrepreneurs are provided with high-quality business training, providing essential knowledge to help run a successful business. Social health workshops help raise awareness about women’s rights, the importance of child education, and HIV prevention. This training empowers Deki entrepreneurs and supports a greater level of independence.

“Deki use technology in every aspect of its operations. From connecting lenders with entrepreneurs, to measuring the impact of microfinance. As technologies improve, Deki explores how they can be used to improve communication and operational efficiencies. Blockchain is an exciting development, and may well be the perfect vehicle for delivering microfinance.”

Deki works with banks and other third parties when sending loans overseas. The more third parties involved in a transaction, the greater the chance of human error and the higher the security risk for fraud and corruption. All issues that have surrounded microloans in the past.

Blockchain offers a higher level of security, where data cannot be altered without the acceptance and approval of the whole blockchain network. It has an inherent resistance to the modification of any data. Perfect for transferring business-critical information from organization to organization.

Cryptocurrencies help sidestep currency rate fluctuations, defend against exchange rate losses, and speed up the transfer of money to international offices and remote communities—perfect for Deki’s local NGOs, which all work with different currencies.

Utilizing smart contracts on Blockchain presents the opportunity to store the impact data collected throughout an entrepreneur’s loan cycle, where the impact data would be impossible to manipulate.

Having all Deki loan transactions held on a public ledger ensures a greater level of transparency, which will help to build lender and supporter confidence. Increased security, less risk of human/technical error, quicker transactions and even substantially less banking fees would all help combat the issues traditionally associated with microfinance.

Blockchain offers many opportunities for international charities such as Deki. However, it is important to recognise that it will not be the panacea. Continuous work will always be required to improve on training methods, relationship management, and impact recording, all contributing to what will be the perfect solution.

For more information contact: Alex Moreton 0117 9428970 and visit

deki blockchain microfinance trvst image
Deki Uganda’s Kamasasa Cell group, specialising in handcrafts. Photo credit: Adam Dickens 2017.
deki blockchain microfinance
Deki Uganda’s Kabuyiri Cell group specialises in tailoring. Photo credit: Adam Dickens 2017.
By Bryony Spooner
Bryony Spooner is Marketing and Communications Director of Deki, a microfinance organisation delivering microloans to entrepreneurs in developing countries, enabling these entrepreneurs to start or develop a business and work themselves out of poverty.
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