(upbeat music) – I’m Eva Gantz, and I lead global
community at a non-profit called stellar.org, and I’ve been fortunate enough
to devote the last year, full-time, working on economic empowerment through technology, and I’m also a freelance
writer on the intersection of tech and social justice, so I’m especially
excited to be here today. So, today I’m excited to
talk to you about how we can unlock the future of women and money, and unlock the future for
millions of women together. So, I can remember
wanting to go to college from the time I was about 11, and I was literally
counting down the days, and I, my home was never
very financially secure, but I knew that if I
could just make it to 18, and get myself to a university, I would be okay, and I didn’t worry so
much about the academics of getting into college, but I did worry, how on Earth I was going
to pay for all of this. So, I did worry how I
was going to pay for it, because I didn’t have a trust fund, and I didn’t even really
have a piggy bank fund, but luckily for me, I grew up in The United States, and I was able to apply for
and receive a student loan. And here in the US, our perspective on debt skews, tends to skew a bit negative, and pictured here are just
some quotes about debt, and how terrible it is, and our perspective tends
to see it as predatory, and something that
causes a lot of anxiety, but if you take a look at how
access to credit is restricted in various communities
all around the world, including here in the US, the opportunity to get a loan
is actually an opportunity to independently better you own life. So, I’m not gonna say that when I look at my
negative account balance, I’m happy about it, but I do feel grateful, because yes, I worked
hard to get my degree, I worked hard to get the loan, and I’m working hard now to pay it off, but my counterpart in a
lower income community, a woman who wants nothing more
than to get to university, and independently improve her life, she doesn’t get that chance today. For instance, a woman
named Georgina Nashipai, at 22, dreamed of going to university, and becoming a teacher, and I’m working with stellar.org because I believe all of
together can help make the financial landscape fairer
for people like Georgina, and others like her. So, right now, there are two billion
people around the world, exactly like Georgina, without access to services like credit, even a bank account, that many of us here probably
tend to take for granted. In fact, in Detroit, there are one in five families
who don’t have any kind of formal financial services, and Detroit is the second
highest rate of unbanked in the whole US. So, if you don’t have a credit history, this means that you
are basically invisible in the formal financial world. You can’t go to school, you can’t buy a house, you definitely can’t start a business, so you’re invisible, and you’re stuck. So, if there’s two billion
people in this situation around the world, why should we focus particularly on women? Today, I want to talk
about how women interact with the larger global economy, innovative hacks that communities are using to bolster women’s success, and most importantly, how all of us can help
change that future together. So, I’m gonna make a few claims here, and I want to be clear that
these are well-researched claims backed by data and respectable sources. There are sources listed on the slides, but I’m also happy to
elaborate on the studies more if you have questions. So, that said: And by that, I mean that when women do have financial decision-making power, they tend to be really good savers, and even low-income women, and women who don’t
have a lot of steadiness in their finances tend to squirrel away at least 10-20% of their earnings, and women are also a
safer bet for lenders, because they tend to
repay loans more reliably. They’re also more likely
to make equitable decisions for their families, and what I mean by that is, a woman choosing to send both her son and her daughter to school
regardless of the perceived difference in earning potentials. And, as you might imagine, this results in more opportunity
for the entire family. Women are also more
likely to invest earnings that they do make back
into their families. But, women’s financial
acumen is actually in spite of the current financial structure, so I want to talk about some of the ways that women are held back
in the global economy. They’re far less likely
to have access to credit, and 20% less likely to
have a bank account, regardless of other
factors across the board. So, even informal finance
is also limited for women. For instance, in Kenya, 40% of small farms are run by women, but they get about 10% of the small loans. There’s this old quote that, “Ginger Rogers did
everything Fred Astaire did.” But, “She did it backwards
and in high heels.” When it comes to the global economy, women are dancing backwards in high heels. So, they’re basically succeeding in spite of restrictions imposed on them. So, let’s take a look at what
that actually looks like, what I mean by dancing in high heels in a global economic sense. So, I’m gonna run through a couple of the most widespread barriers. Don’t feel like you have
to remember them all, just try to imagine what would
happen if all of these things were stacked against you. So, women often need a
male relative’s permission to even open accounts, and oftentimes the account that’s opened actually isn’t ever used by the woman, so this is true with 50-70%
of loans on the books in Pakistan for women. Women also frequently don’t
have land owning rights, so in terms of putting up
collateral to get a loan, they’re frequently not able to do so, and this is true in Burkina Faso, Nigeria, and Zimbabwe, just to name a couple of countries. Women also tend to have
limited mobility rights, and you may have heard that
this is true in Saudi Arabia with women driving, but there was also a recent
incident in the United Kingdom where women in a small
religious sect in North London were not able to drive
their children to school, and this was in 2015. So, all around the world
there is consistent lack of mobility. So, if you can’t even
get to a bank account, you certainly can’t open one. Women also tend to not have formal IDs as frequently as men do
all around the world, and again, if you don’t have some kind of verifiable identity, it’s near impossible to get
formal financial service. Women also just face greater
challenges in getting education all over the world, and one of the most insidious, but least talked about
obstacles to finance for women is domestic financial abuse, and just to give you an idea
of how prevalent this is, one in three women around
the world will experience emotional abuse from a partner, and 98% of those relationships will experience financial abuse, and that just means withholding
access to a bank account, forbidding someone to open an account, restricting access to money, and this kind of restriction can have devastating consequences on
a woman and her whole family, including the ability to
leave that toxic relationship. So, all these stacked
factors stacked together mean that women simply can’t
access formal finances often, but I believe that women can have access, and I’m definitely not alone. Communities all over the
world are figuring out these innovate ways to get around the formal finance restrictions for women. And, one such way is called microfinance. Raise your hand if you’ve
heard of microfinance. Oh wow, awesome, okay. Cool, so I’ll skip a lot of the education, but as a refresher, it basically just means lending in smaller than traditionally thought
of amounts for entrepreneurs, and these are typically easier to get than a traditional loan. So, a little history, microfinance started
with Dr. Mohammad Yunus in Bangladeshi village where
he started experimenting with lending to very poor women, and it ended up being so
successful that it spread all over the world. So, I want to share a
story about a real person, a real woman who was
able to achieve a dream via microfinance that she
wouldn’t have been able to achieve without it. So, this is Devi, and she’s 29, a proud business owner in Nepal, and Devi took out an initial loan of the equivalent of
about $350 US dollars, and with that loan, she built a thriving beauty-supply shop, and when that succeeded, she took out another loan, and then a third, and her latest venture
is the chick business, and she raises these chicks
and sells them for profit in the market. So, Devi was able to achieve this thing that she’d always dreamed of doing, and in her own words: So, this is awesome, but would everyone in
Devi’s village be able to start a business if they wanted? Can everyone get microcredit who needs it? Data from the world bank would suggest that this is not the case. So, 160 million people have
been served by microfinance, and I want to say that is huge, it’s amazing, but if you
look at it as a fraction of the larger two billion unbanked, you can see that there’s still a huge opportunity for growth. So, how can we help
solutions like microfinance, that are already happening
on their own, scale faster? What kind of technology can we use? So, Stellar is an open
financial network for the world that basically helps solutions
like microfinance scale, and it does this by providing free to low cost
infrastructure at the backend for local services to build on top of. So, microfinance institutions
are already getting excited about this open, free network supported by a non-profit, and they’re building software, so for instance, this place in Nigeria called Oradian, a software company, is building something
that makes transactions really simple in between these different microfinance institutions, and the reason this is
needed is frequently these transactions take
place literally on a bus, a physical bus ride, so they load up the cash, drive about 12 hours, and then deliver the cash physically, so it’s costly, it’s sometimes even dangerous, so they’re really excited
about plugging into this free open network. So, an open financial network in itself can also help women, entrepreneurs succeed
simply just by virtue of the low transaction cost, seamless international payments, and near-instant transactions, and those benefits could be the difference that helps the female-owned
business survive. So, we’ve talked a bit about the tech, or I’m sorry, the social implications
of what an open-network for money could do, but what does actually look like? What does it do, and what’s under the hood? And, pictured here is a
pug with its head tilting, ’cause that’s, you know, that’s how people usually feel when they hear about it first. So, under the hood, Stellar is the first of
its kind distributed, decentralized peer to peer network. So, it’s basically
accessible and open and free for absolutely anyone to use, and you plug into it, and you can transact with
absolutely anyone else on the network, and its instant in any currency and free. So, this means that I
could send you dollars, and you could receive it
in pound in just seconds, and these multi-currency
transactions are powered by a peer to peer distributed marketplace that’s baked in at a protocol level. So, a little bit of the architecture of how the network works. The base layer, the Stellar network itself is made up of these distributed, decentralized nodes that talk to each other, and they all agree on a distributed, I’m sorry, an agreed upon database, and they all store this database, and stay in sync with each
other via a consensus algorithm called Stellar Consensus Protocol. It’s pretty new, it came out this March, happy to point you to resources
on the 50 page white paper, or the graphic novel that explains it in sort of a more accessible way, but for now, let’s just say I’ll these
nodes agree with each other, so that is the stellar network, and that is it, everything else is an app
or a service built on top to let people interact with the protocol. So, next up are gateways, and these are entities
that actually get the money onto the network, so they accept deposits, and record those digitally on the network, and any licensed money service
business can be a gateway, so mobile money provider, a microfinance institution, a bank, a credit union, they can all join, and again it’s free, and not permissioned in any way. All right, clicker. So, the final level is users and services that are built on top of the network, or accessing the network
through these gateways, or directly from the nodes, and entrepreneurs, local people, local financial entrepreneurs, and innovators can
build their own services at a local level, and this is important because the people who are going to be using
a financial service, or any service for that matter, should be the same
people who are building. So, if you think that this architecture looks suspiciously similar
to how the internet works, you would be right, because we need financial infrastructure to behave more like the internet. Take a minute to imagine
all of the accessibility and innovation that the
internet has brought to global communication, just person to person, all over the world, and imagine if that could come to money. So, we’ve talked a bit about how Stellar can help solutions like microfinance scale to help provide not well-served
communities with credit, but couldn’t an open, free
financial network do more? Yes, so simply put, Stellar unlocks potential. One such innovation that
the network can bring about is for remittances, which are essentially
cross border payments, person to person, not corporate. So, the remittance market
is 582 billion dollars in a single year, and last year, we spent 44 billion just on the fees, so just fees wasted, lost, just moving our own money around, and these came out of the pockets of some of the world’s most, the people who need it most, people who are working and
trying to send money home to their families. So, our co-founder of Stellar.org, Joyce Kim spoke at the UN on how Stellar can unlock remittances
through this peer to peer distributed marketplace
where international payments are free, instant, and
happen at a protocol level. Stellar also can unlock savings, so for instance, right now a non-profit in South
Africa is building a wallet for young girls and women to
save right from their phones, so we’re probably
familiar with mobile money in the sense of you know, Square Cash or Paypal. This would work somewhat similarly, but the girls could save in
local South African rand, and airtime minutes right
from the same wallet, and these wallets are all free, ’cause it’s also a
non-profit serving them. So, the really cool thing about this is the end goal is not savings. It’s been proven that
women and young girls, who are able to save formally, stay in school at least six months longer, have better health outcomes, and participate more in
the global formal economy when they grow up, so this isn’t just about savings, it’s about improving their whole lives. One of the coolest things about Stellar, in my opinion, is that it unlocks a network effect, so once you’re plugged into the network, like the internet, you’re connected with
every other institution and person on the network. So, keeping all of this potential
for global change in mind, what would a future with stellar, with an open financial network
for the world, look like? It looks like more
access to these services all around the world, decrease poverty, and people living longer, and more self-directed lives. Okay, so we’re gonna move it right along, and say that you can get involved by joining our communities, you can build your own app, and extend access to people who need it, for your own communities, and feel free to join our
chat at slack.stellar.org, and thank you so much. (audience claps) (upbeat music)

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