₿trust, a non-profit organisation which exists to decentralise development of Bitcoin software, has acquired Qala, the organisation training the next generation of African Bitcoin and Lightning engineers. T
he deal, completed on 1st September 2023, will see Qala rebrand as the ₿trust Builders Programme, to strengthen ₿Trust’s mission to drive the development and education of Bitcoin open-source engineers from across the Global South.
According to Bernard Parah, Co-Founder & Director of Qala, “When we launched our programme in 2021, our goal was clear – to build a critical mass of African engineers with a deep understanding of Bitcoin’s capabilities to transform the continent.”
Parah adds that the acquisition significantly accelerates their mission, strengthening its capacity to not only expand its existing community, but effectively resource them to play a major role in influencing Bitcoin’s open-source development as a vital solution to Africa’s unique socio-economic challenges.”
Founded in 2021, Qala sources, trains and matches African software developers with leading Bitcoin companies from across the world, equipping its engineers with the most sought-after skills in the global Bitcoin talent market. To date, Qala has built Africa’s largest online community of Bitcoin developers spanning over 42 countries including Nigeria, Kenya and Uganda. With an impressive fellowship placement rate, the programmes’ alumni have secured roles at the likes of Galoy, SphinxChat and Bitnob, as well as open-source grants from ₿trust and Superlunar.
“With this in mind, we strongly believe our new transition should not only be viewed as a massive boost for the Bitcoin ecosystem, but a crucial foundation in leveraging Bitcoin as the gateway and catalyst to financial freedom in Africa and the Global South,” added Parah.
As part of the deal, Femi Longe, CEO of Qala, and Stephanie Titcombe, Programmes Manager at Qala, will officially join ₿trust as Programme Leads at ₿trust Builders. To kickstart the next phase of its growth journey, ₿trust Builders’ programme will pivot to focus on open-source training and has launched a call for its next cohort of senior African software developers seeking to transition into building for Bitcoin and Lightning.
Launched in 2021, ₿trust focuses on fostering developer talent and supporting the free and open source Bitcoin ecosystem by locating, educating, and remunerating Bitcoin open source engineers from the Global South. Originally funded by Jack Dorsey and Jay-Z, ₿trust is currently headed up by a board of directors – Abubakar Nur Khalil, Carla Kirk-Cohen, Obi Nwosu and Ojoma Ochai.
Recently Btrust launched the Africa Open Source Cohort, which offers support to its pioneer member, Vladimir Fomene, working on the Bitcoin Development Kit, and proudly sponsors the Africa Bitcoin Conference, an annual gathering for Bitcoin stakeholders from all around Africa and beyond.
“We’re incredibly proud to welcome Femi and his excellent team to ₿trust. With Qala’s extensive outreach and world-class programmes, the organisation has made rapid progress in driving open-source development in the Global South through the advancement of education within the region, which is heavily aligned with our core mission at ₿trust.” said Ojoma Ochai, Board Member at ₿trust.
“As we move forward, we’re fully focussed on not only building on Qala’s impressive work in Africa, but empowering more developers throughout the Global South with the support they need to build truly innovative open source solutions through the power of Bitcoin.”
In September 2023, ₿trust Builders will launch the ‘Build for Africa’ Hackathon, which seeks to encourage makers to build solutions that solve African challenges and increase bitcoin adoption in Africa. This will serve as a platform for open innovation and collaborative problem-solving, where makers will converge to generate novel ideas through an idea hack focused on tackling Africa-specific challenges, and accelerate their bitcoin projects through mentorship in design, development, and lightning integration.
The hackathon is a key pre-event for the Africa Bitcoin Conference on 1 – 3 December in Accra, Ghana, which ₿trust is proud to support for the second year running.