Interview With Iris Nevins: Empowering Africa Through Blockchain And NFTs
Iris Nevins’ Blockchain and NFT journey is captivating by all standards! As a woman in a male-dominated industry, Iris focuses on her contributions to the space rather than dwelling on potential limitations.
The CEO of Umba Daima’s determination and forward-thinking approach is evident as she continues to make her mark in the Blockchain and NFT world. Driven by her devotion to empowerment, equality, and innovation, her passion for aiding creators and promoting parity through technology is palpable as she shares her insights on the future of Blockchain and NFTs, especially in Africa.
Iris thinks NFTs will go beyond just artwork and become a primary method for storing and tracking various data, from medical records to legal documents and voting data. To fully leverage the potential of Blockchain in Africa, she emphasizes the importance of educating Africans on technology, supporting innovators, and improving infrastructure such as high-speed internet and access to computers.
MoveMint: Miss Nevins, can you relate your background and how you found yourself in Blockchain with MoveMint’s readers?
Iris Nevins (IN): “In 2020, I launched an online art store that helped Black artists in Africa and the Caribbean sell their artwork. Shortly after, I was introduced to NFTs by some college classmates. I was impressed by the opportunities that NFTs presented for creators but noticed that success required education, visibility, and community. So, together with my co-founder, we launched Black NFT Art to provide free promotion for Black/African NFT artists and to help them network and build relationships.”
MoveMint: With your background as an artist, where is the future of Blockchain technologies like NFTs heading?
IN: “I’m not an artist like most professional artists are, so I want to be careful with that term. My background is really in tech and education. NFTs will become the primary method for storing and tracking data, including medical records, legal documents, voting data, event registrations, user data, wills, deeds, etc. Its use goes far beyond artwork, but I do consider artwork to continue to be one of the more profound use cases because of how powerful a tool it can be for creators of intellectual property.”
MoveMint: Do you see Blockchain as a tool to mitigate socio-economic inequality in Africa?
IN: “I think every tool is employable for both good and bad. I hope that Blockchain is used to liberate, empower, and equalize, but that’s up to the people, leaders, and innovators within Africa to decide. It can just as effortlessly be used to create more inequality, so ‘intention’ and ‘values’ are what really matter.”
MoveMint: From your point of view, how does Africa bridge the digital divide to reap the potential of Blockchain tech?
IN: “I think empowering and educating Africans on how to use technology for problem-solving is really significant. Encouraging and supporting innovators who are building tech is really essential. And also, improving infrastructure is necessary. Investing in a robust infrastructure that supports high-speed internet will go a long way, and helping people access laptops/computers is crucial.“
MoveMint: What role do education and community building play in Blockchain adoption?
IN: “Any new technology is going to take time to adopt. And any technology that affects people’s finances should be very carefully taught to avoid unnecessary loss or suffering. So yes, absolutely, I think education is vital. It should be all forms, online, in-person, courses, etc. And then creating spaces where people can share what they are learning, and teach each other, goes a long way.”
MoveMint: Let’s look at the kind of policy that would provide Africa opportunities to derive maximum benefits from Blockchain?
IN: “I think policies that encourage innovation have positive consequences. In the US, we have some pretty outdated regulations around investments, making it very difficult for those with less wealth to actually build wealth because we’re not allowed to engage in “high-risk” or “unregulated” investment activities. The intention might be good, but the impact is restrictive for those of us who know what we’re doing and have the ability to take those risks. When it comes to crypto specifically, I hope countries realize that they don’t have to stick to outdated rules. It’s okay to evolve and let go of rules that don’t fit the new direction. People want the freedom to do what they want with THEIR money.”
MoveMint: Lastly, are there any challenges and biases against you as a woman in a male-dominated industry?
IN: “When people ask me this question, I always say, ‘I don’t know.’ I’ve never been blatantly mistreated or disrespected in this space for being a woman. Does my gender affect my opportunities, probably? Am I often in rooms with predominantly men? Yes, all the time! But I don’t spend much time thinking about what I might be losing because of my race or gender, and I try to stay hyper-focused on what I am contributing to the space!”
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