Interview: Grey Jabesi on innovation and entrepreneurship in Africa

July 7, 2019 • Careers, Features, Top Stories

24-year-old Grey Jabesi, autodidact and crypto enthusiast, has just recently been appointed the new Director of Marketing for The Blockchain Association of Africa — based in Cape Town. IT News Africa’s Jenna Cook had the opportunity to chat with him about cryptocurrencies, podcasts and entrepreneurship in Africa. Here’s what transpired: 

Your life took on a new direction when you first stumbled upon Bitcoin on Bill Gates’s Reddit AMA. How different would your life be, right now, if you hadn’t made this discovery?

[It’s difficult] to imagine alternative outcomes but more likely [I] would have been running my own animation and digital marketing agency.

As an avid Bitcoin investor and crypto evangelist, how would you describe Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies?

Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are just better money. These are currencies that are not controlled by any government or corporations. Simply, [they allow you to] become your own bank.

Are cryptocurrencies the future of emerging markets, especially in regions where people have little to no access to a traditional banking system?

People buy cryptocurrencies mostly to transact, not to speculate. So yes. According to Citi Bank, Kenya ranks fifth highest bitcoin holder per capita in the world. Nigeria is ranked third while South Africa [is sitting] at sixth place. 

And being a trader in Africa myself, I can see the reality that cryptocurrencies are finding real-world use cases in Africa more than any other place in the world. 

What is your view on the announcement of ‘Libra’, the newest crypto on the block-chain backed by the likes of Facebook, Mastercard and PayPal? 

It only means that cryptocurrencies are here to stay and governments, corporations and individuals can ignore this reality at their own risk. 

Libra will introduce a lot of people to the world of cryptocurrency which is positive to the entire crypto market. However, Libra being centralized will have so many limits which will drive more people to Bitcoin.

In your opinion, are cryptocurrencies on the verge of reinventing the world’s current financial system? And if so, how long do you predict it’ll take until there’s mass adoption of this decentralised, easily accessible and mobile option?

Yes, they are and I think within 10 years we’ll have so many different currencies that people will be using and switching between like they do with Apps. Fiat currencies will be [similar to] SMS and Cryptocurrencies Whatsapp.

Your podcast, The Grey Ave Podcast, is currently the number 1 African podcast on Tech and business interviews, did you ever think it would be this successful?

I started the podcast to get hold of the smartest minds around the world. I didn’t know that other people were struggling with the same issues [as me] and could [use the conversations to] find remedies.

It’s weird that most people identify me with the podcast more than anything else I do, never anticipated that.

What inspired you to venture into the world of audio content and podcasts?

Curiosity and a belief that you can learn a lot more just by listening and asking questions to the right people.

How do you market your podcast?

I rarely market it as a filter against a bad audience. The type of audience I intend to reach is that of self-starters who are eager to learn continuously, regardless of the subject. Those kinds of people will find the podcast by themselves dynamically. 

When I market though, I use Facebook ads or feature on other people’s content.  

Are there key activities you would recommend to people who are looking to become entrepreneurs? If so, what are they?

When it comes to human behaviour, it’s easier to remove than to add so I will list what not to do:(1) Do not watch TV at all, (2) Stay away from entertainment as much as you can, (3) Don’t fall victim to things that are made up i.e ‘weekend’.

How many hours do you work per day on average?

18hrs on average 24/7, there’s no [time for] weekend or holidays.

What is something unique about the way that you stay inspired, come up with new ideas or manage your businesses.

I do things my own way, whatever feels natural to me. I try not to follow the prescribed models.  

Has there been anyone significant moment, throughout your career, where you were satisfied with what you’ve achieved?

No, I’m always thankful but have not felt satisfied yet. I can still push more. 

By Jenna Cook

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