Monday, June 18, 2018

Bitcoin and Blockchain: What you need to know now...

WEBINAR DESCRIPTION (15 seats total) COST - $20 to $60. NOTE: We accept Bitcoin. RSVP

Bitcoin is a new type of currency. As an online, open source payment mechanism, many believe this new tool will impact currency, governments, and financial technology. This webinar explains what Bitcoin is and how it works. We give some information on how this new currency may be treated. We will discuss how it may affect your business and your life. 

Join economist William Michael Cunningham to learn more about this new payment mechanism/currency. Mr. Cunningham has been tracking Bitcoin since 2011 and became active in the field in 2014 (see: We review Bitcoin, its spectacular price growth, describe where it is now and what it could become. We also review the best mechanisms and resources for learning more and for getting involved.

We'll begin with a discussion of Bitcoin technology, move to market issues, discuss and describe exactly how Bitcoin works. We continue with a current summary of the market environment. 

Who should attend? Those just learning about bitcoin, those wishing to obtain bitcoin, those in the fields of Business, Banking, Technology and Tax. Because Bitcoin and the underlying technology will have a large impact, those who deal with these matters are encouraged to attend.


Overview and plan - what we cover
Introduction to Bitcoin
What's going on with the price of bitcoin?
Blockchain 101
The Economics of Digital Currency
How to get started with Bitcoin. (We answer the question: Is it too late to buy bitcoin? We also address the following additional questions: when should I sell? How should I trade bitcoin?)
Suggested Trading Plan and Strategy
Bitcoin-related Resources

Prerequisites: The following are required reading/viewing prior to the webinar:

Understanding What an ICO Is And Why Government Wants to Regulate It

Summary of bitcoin and its underlying technology-blockchain, by Henry Zhang, Impact Investing Intern. University of Toronto.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Impact Investing Forum North- Hilton Midtown, New York, NY- September 12-13, 2018

Impact Investing Forum North- Hilton Midtown, New York, NY- September 12-13, 2018

The Impact Investing Forum will look at many of the asset classes that encompass this space. We invite you to join us and meet top influencers, experienced investors both public and private, money managers, and service providers that are leading the charge in this ever growing space. Themes of defining impact investing, portfolio construction, asset class opportunities, and the role of the investor are just a few of the stimulating topics to be covered at this event.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Blockchain for Social Impact Conference

Above, Interns from Creative Investment Research at the Blockchain for Social Impact Conference. From left to right, Papa Yaw Owusu, Franklin and Marshall University, Megan Abarca, Wellesley, Dongming Liu, Georgetown University, Mr. Lin, Georgetown University, Rongbin Ye, Johns Hopkins, Chen Zheng, Georgetown.

The Blockchain for Social Impact Conference (BSIC), organized by Consensys and held on June 1st, was one of the highest level conferences held so far to discuss blockchain technology. As one of the main  speakers on the social impact of blockchain technology, William Michael Cunningham, Economist and CEO of Creative Investment Research, addressed the application of blockchain technology as a tool to enhance impact investing. Impact investing analysts and interns from Creative Investment  volunteered at the event and provided the administrative support.

William Michael Cunningham speaking at the Blockchain for Social Impact Conference.

The conference clearly pointed to the future. Supranational development banks, like the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank, participated and shared their insights on the development of blockchain technology, especially interested in applying blockchain concepts, technology, and mindset to solve problems. Despite the conservative nature of these institutions, given their scale and leadership position in the finance industry, their general attitude with respect to blockchain is open and accepting.

Conference discussion panels provided an incentive for the small firms to learn, utilize and deploy  blockchain technology projects. Moreover, we saw many excellent applications, like Popchain, a decentralized token for anonymous surveys,  already in use. On a panel concerning blockchain and climate, a weather tracking program based on the blockchain was described. The app is in use on the African continent. By including the local people into the framework, the social impact of the application is maximized: on the one hand, the weather tracking organization gets data on the climate in a specific region; on the other hand, participants receive much needed financial support for their lives and help ensure the long-term sustainability of the program.

The conference also served as a great platform for facilitating connections between startups and  small firms. BSIC provided many workshops for small business owners to discuss and communicate their business idea. For example, during the MITx Solver workshop, professionals were divided into  health, education, sustainability sectors. In the process, professionals and startup owners were able to combine their ideas and develop mutually beneficial cooperative opportunities.

The conference attracted professionals from many sectors. Private funders, bankers, policy makers, analysts, and students discussed ways to maximize the social benefit from this most cutting edge technology. BSIC provided vast opportunities for learning, developing, enriching and prospering.

I have several reflections on the conference content. First, many of the entrepreneurs I talked to did not have any previous familiarity with blockchain technology. While there were many experts in the technology, like the World Bank's Chief Information Officer and those from Consensys, others knew nothing about blockchain or were new to the technology. Second, based on  reflections I gathered from students attending (from George Washington University, Georgetown, Johns Hopkins and Howard) the discussions at the conference remained at an introductory level. Instead of breaking down technological difficulties, most discussions were on concepts and ideas.

Nevertheless, this conference is meaningful for the development of blockchain technology. As a political center, the headquarters of various large financial and political institutions, D.C needs its own blockchain "geek hub" that enables D.C entrepreneurs to benefit from the blessings sure to flow from this advancing technology.

Industry 4.0 in Africa: Helping or hindering? Papa Yaw Owusu, Impact Investing Intern, Creative Investment Research

         On Monday, June 4, the Brookings Institution, in partnership with the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO),  held a panel discussion titled “Industry 4.0 in Africa: Helping or hindering?”. Industry 4.0 refers to the digitization of the manufacturing sector, driven by computing power, connectivity, and new forms of human-machine interaction, like artificial intelligence.

The panelists were Julius Akinyemi an Entrepreneur in Residence at MIT Media Lab, Mary Hallward-Driemeier the Senior Economic Adviser for Finance, Competitiveness, and Innovation at the World Bank, Susan Lund, Partner at the McKinsey Global Institute, and Olga Memedovic, the Chief of Business Environment, Cluster & Innovation Division in UNIDO's Department of Trade, Investment & Innovation. The panel addressed relevant issues and questions, such as: What can be done to put the prerequisites for Industry 4.0 adoption in place? What are the overall implications for Africa within the Industry 4.0 paradigm? How can Industry 4.0 be harnessed to improve the livelihoods of the continent’s most vulnerable people?

    The panel began with the following assumption: that Africa needs improved infrastructure to be able to fully maximize the benefits of Industry 4.0. Excessive regulation accounts for about half of the continent’s investment gap. Less restrictive regulations, more competition in the procurement of infrastructure projects and more public-private partnerships would reduce this gap. There is a need for greater and cheaper access to internet technologies. Governments also need to implement appropriate policies to boost manufacturing and attract investment into their countries.

Industry 4.0 might have negative implications for the African continent. Industry 4.0, by reducing labor costs through automation, undermines Africa’s "cheap labor" competitive advantage. This may result in global value chains not moving to Africa as happened previously with the movement of global value chains from more economically developed nations to Asian countries. Furthermore, Industry 4.0 might create an even wider gap between African and other regions by leading to a greater cumulative competitive disadvantage.

Current developments on the continent suggest that Industry 4.0 has the potential to improve the lives of Africans. Greater internet access in most countries has enabled easier and more accurate data collection for governments thereby making government policies more appropriate. Industry 4.0 has enabled the development of various financial technology, like MPESA, which has lowered transactions costs. Finally, the possible development of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) would make Industry 4.0 more impactful by enabling greater economies of scale.