“Eat at Betty’s” is the word in Nyeri, Kenya, as not only can you pay in crypto, but you can hang around for a tutorial afterwards.
At the foot of Mount Kenya about 150km (90 miles) outside the capital, Nairobi, Betty’s place cooks a fantastic barbeque, known to locals as “nyama choma” and if your Swahili is lacking, it is usually roast goat served with kachumbari salad and ugali, washed down with local beer.
The goat may be standard local Kenyan fare, but the mode of payment certainly isn’t. Owner Beatrice Wambugu has gone crypto, something not common in these parts, happy to take Bitcoin and Dash rather than the usual cash or card. It’s the way to go she says, arguing “since the world is becoming more global, my place is also becoming a global restaurant.”
In fact, Betty’s is really flexible when tourists arrive at her place, “I attract different customers from different parts of the world, whichever coin they have. As long as it’s a viable coin we accept it,” she says.
Ok, so she hasn’t done a roaring trade in crypto till receipts, with, so far, only about 30,000 Kenyan shillings (£230, $300) in sales from about 20 people. But, she has another plan to make up the numbers; crypto lessons. Every Sunday Beatrice runs cryptocurrency tutorials at Betty’s to spread the word on how to empower locals towards a new way of doing things. She says:
“I’ve set aside one day where I can teach my customers. Whoever asks about cryptocurrencies: ‘How does it work? What is Bitcoin?’ I train them.” At my place, it’s ‘nyama choma’ and ‘nyama Bitcoin.’ The restaurant is expanding, having taken over a nearby two-story hotel in just over a year since opening.
Kenya is a difficult proposition when it comes to opening a business due to a high level of local corruption. Recently, Kenyan Distributed Ledgers and Artificial Intelligence task force chairman Bitange Ndemo said that the government should consider tokenizing the economy to deal with “increasing” rates of corruption and uncertainties. James Preston of SA Crypto sees Bitcoin as a way of “banking the unbanked” a term now familiar with many on the African continent, referring to Africa’s 350 million with no access to traditional banking.
“There’s been such a history of poverty in Africa that so many rural communities are yet to be developed with normal banking infrastructure,” he told the BBC.
The new task force chairman Bitange Ndemo, speaking at an Information and Communication Technology Ministry (ICT) stakeholders meeting agrees with that perception and argues:
“We must begin to tokenize the economy by giving incentives to young people to do things which they are paid through tokens that can be converted to fiat currency.”
Betty’s goat dish is on the right track.
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