The metaverse industry is quite lacking when it comes to diversity. The lack of diversity spans from investors to creators, as the demographic trends toward male and white. Many metaverse, cryptocurrency, NFT marketplaces, and other companies are working hard to improve the diversity percentages within this space. One of the companies doing that is the Black Women Blockchain Council (BWBC). This year marks the second year of their International Women of Blockchain conference. For the whole month of March, this conference is being held virtually, hosting over 50 speakers from over 25 countries. The conference is designed to inform attendees about the metaverse industry, as well as learn about cryptocurrency, NFTS, decentralized finance (Defi), and more, specifically focusing on representation and support for women in these spaces. You can learn more about the conference here.
The International Women of Blockchain organization began last year by the BWBC, whose mission is to: “create a safe space that inspires trains, and activates a talent and economic pipeline of black women pursuing professional and entrepreneurial careers in blockchain and fintech…” Fintech, or financial technology, is one of the biggest sectors lacking diversity, showing a need for groups like the BWBC to get involved.
The BWBC was founded by Olayinka Odeniran, who has over 16 years of experience helping financial firms navigate through international regulations. She currently has her own Cybersecurity firm, CYBESCWATCH, which is focused specifically on the finance sector. According to Odeniran, the BWBC: “Is a global benefit LLC created out of necessity in 2018.” As of 2018, less than 1,000 black women were working as software developers in blockchain and similar industries. Odeniran saw the need for more diversity in this space and began her work: “There was a movement to show representation in what most assume was a male-dominated space. BWBC’s purpose is to create a space where black women are promoted, supported, and educated about blockchain.” In order to support their community, the BWBC offers a wide range of resources for participants, ranging from educational events to blockchain training help. The BWBC even offers to help women obtain jobs in the blockchain or fintech sectors. They also inspire younger women to go into this industry, offering STEM training to underprivileged girls from grades K-12. The International Women of Blockchain conference this March is just one of the ways that BWBC offers support, as the conference hosts talks with some of the leading women-led NFT and cryptocurrency businesses within the metaverse industry.
Besides the International Women of Blockchain conference, the BWBC is working on their newest project, NFT Africa, a three-month-long NFT workshop targeting 300 African women. “In keeping up with our purpose, we recently partnered with ConsenSys to facilitate a pathway for the Africa diaspora, most importantly women to become blockchain developers,” Odeniran added, referring to the blockchain company ConsenSys. “Our initiative is to increase black women blockchain developers to half a million by 2030.”
Since its inception in 2018, the BWBC has seen some success. “The community has been receptive, and we have allies that are helping which can be evidenced in our partnerships and sponsorships with ConsenSys, Block, Hiro, and others,” said Odeniran. ConsenSys, for their part, are also excited to help better the metaverse, NFT, and cryptocurrency industries. “We at ConsenSys are excited to join forces with BWBC to drive talent with the goal to achieve global blockchain adoption. Diversity is part of our DNA,” said ConsenSys Brand Specialist, Scott Olson.
The BWBC, and its International Women of Blockchain conference highlight the need for more diversity within these industries. “The ecosystem is not perfect,” Odeniran added. “There is always a need for representation because together we go far. We believe that giving black women a chance to be creators and not just consumers will help strengthen this space.”