image: sociallyawareblog.com

I have been reading a lot, lately, on Blockchain. It is the technology that powers Bitcoin and all the cryptocurrencies. My sudden deep interest in it is both due to the hype around it and the fact that I am writing about it in my MBA assignment (5000 words paper).

So far, I am amazed by what I have read about the technology and the potential it holds. It is truly revolutionary and will change the way we do a lot of things -- not just how we spend money (cryptocurrency). 

It is very difficult to write about it without bothering a non-technical non-finance person to tears. If you want to risk being bored, then you should head over to Wikipedia to read up on what the blockchain technology is.

Earlier this year, the European Parliamentary Research Service did an extensive easy to read and understand report on how blockchain technology could change our lives. I'll advise you to read it. It is very eye-opening. It explained how cryptocurrencies are just a fractional part of what the technology powers. And that even though it is the early stages and things are going to change a lot going into the future -- we might see the cryptocurrencies of today completely replaced by one more regulated and more robust just like how the early internet companies mostly died and the ones currently reaping all the gain of internet were mostly non-existent in those early days of the internet. And that the same technology is currently being used to power public service records, supply chain management and digital non-financial transactions.

Below is an excerpt from the report. Enjoy.

How does blockchain technology work ?

Before attempting to understand how blockchain ledgers work, it is worth taking a look at traditional ledgers. For centuries, banks have used ledgers to maintain databases of account transactions, and governments have used them to keep records of land ownership. There is a central authority – the bank or government office – which manages changes to the record of transactions, so they can identify who owns what, at any given time. This allows them to check whether new transactions are legitimate, that the same €5 is not spent twice and houses are not sold by people who don't own them. Since users trust the manager of the ledger to check the transactions properly, people can buy and sell from each other even if they have never met before and do not trust each other. The middleman also controls access to information on the ledger. They might decide that anyone can find out who owns a building, but only account holders can check their balance. These ledgers are centralised (there is a middleman, trusted by all users, who has total control over the system and mediates every transaction) and black-boxed (the functioning of the ledger and its data are not fully visible to its users). Digitisation has made these ledgers faster and easier to use, but they remain centralised and black-boxed.

Blockchain offers the same record-keeping functionality but without a centralised architecture. The question is how it can be certain that a transaction is legitimate when there is no central authority to check it. Blockchains solve this problem by decentralising the ledger, so that each user holds a copy of it. Anyone can request that any transaction be added to the blockchain, but transactions are only accepted if all the users agree that it is legitimate, e.g. that the request comes from the authorised person, that the house seller has not already sold the house, and the buyer has not already spent the money. This checking is done reliably and automatically on behalf of each user, creating a very fast and secure ledger system that is remarkably tamper-proof.

Each new transaction to be recorded is bundled together with other new transactions into a 'block', which is added as the latest link on a long 'chain' of historic transactions. This chain forms the blockchain ledger that is held by all users. This work is called 'mining'. Anybody can become a miner and compete to be the first to solve the complex mathematical problem of creating a valid encrypted block of transactions to add to the blockchain. There are various means of incentivising people to do this work. Most often, the first miner to create a valid block and add it to the chain is rewarded with the sum of fees for its transactions. Fees are currently around €0.10 per transaction, but blocks are added regularly and contain thousands of transactions. Miners may also receive new currency that is created and put into circulation as an inflation mechanism.

Adding a new block to the chain means updating the ledger that is held by all users. Users only accept a new block when it has been verified that all of its transactions are valid. If a discrepancy is found, the block is rejected. Otherwise, the block is added and will remain there as a permanent public record. No user can remove it. While destroying or corrupting a traditional ledger requires an attack on the middleman, doing so with a blockchain requires an attack on every copy of the ledger simultaneously. There can be no 'fake ledger' because all users have their own genuine version to check against. Trust and control in blockchain-based transactions is not centralised and black-boxed, but decentralised and transparent. These blockchains are described as 'permissionless', because there is no special authority that can deny permission to participate in the checking and adding of transactions. They can also be described as embodying social and political values such as transparency and the redistribution of power.

It is also possible to set up 'permissioned' blockchains, where a limited group of actors retain the power to access, check and add transactions to the ledger. This enables 'mainstream' actors such as banks and governments to maintain substantial control over their blockchains. Permissioned blockchains are less transparent and decentralised than their permissionless counterparts and, as such, they embody somewhat different social and political values...

Read the full report at http://www.europarl.europa.eu/RegData/etudes/IDAN/2017/581948/EPRS_IDA(2017)581948_EN.pdf 

Culled from: https://www.d-prize.org/
Apply at: https://www.d-prize.org/submit

Who Should Apply?


You should have enormous ambition, and can imagine yourself as a successful entrepreneur. You are ready to launch your new venture, and - if a pilot proves successful – you are excited to grow it into a world changing organization.

If you are still a student or have existing commitments, you should have a clear idea how to transition into a full-time founder.

D-Prize is exclusively interested in ventures that will scale distribution of an already proven poverty intervention in the developing world. We do not fund prototypes of promising new interventions.





Eligibility


D-Prize challenges are open to anyone or any teams. The sole restriction is that individuals and their immediate family on the judging panel may not participate as a contestant.

D-Prize is also open to any business model (for profit, non-profit, and everything in between). All winners will be awarded up to $20,000. The award is offered in the form of a convertible grant.

Up to 25 of the most promising proposals will be selected for funding awards, regardless of which challenge track was selected.





Submission Policies


      Proposals must be submitted following the instructions in this packet.

      Extra material outside of the proposal will not be considered.

      Revisions to proposals after submission will also not be considered.

      Only one proposal per person or partnership will be considered.

      Proposals must be written in English.







Round 1


First Round proposals will be accepted on a rolling basis, using the following deadlines. We strive to send decisions out within three weeks. Judges may request additional information via email before making a decision.

      Early decision deadline: November 19, 2017 at midnight PT (Pacific Time). Early decision proposals are more likely to advance to the next round, and will have additional time on for the full proposal.

      Regular deadline: December 10, 2017 at midnight PT.

      Extension deadline: December 31, 2017 at midnight PT. Extensions are limited to the first 200 people who register at: www.d-prize.org/extension


Round 2


Top entrepreneurs invited to participate in Round 2 will be asked to draft and submit a full plan of their venture, roughly 10 pages in length plus any desired appendices. The plan will include more details on operations, a budget, milestones, and other items. Participants will receive a Round 2 Proposal Packet with full instructions.

Those invited to the Second Round will have about four weeks to submit a plan.





Final Round


Entrepreneurs invited to the Final Round will interview with judges over email and on the phone. Depending on the promise and cost-effectiveness of a proposal, judges may award up to $20,000 in funding. The average D-Prize award size is $12,000.





Piloting Winning Ventures


Besides direct funding, D-Prize can assist in helping your venture attract future funding if the pilot proves successful. We will also provide you access to the D-Prize network of past winners, and will do our best to support you in other ways.







Judging Process


All proposals will receive an initial read from at least two judges, and if advanced will receive up to two additional independent readings.

We strive to send decisions within three weeks of your submission. Judges may request additional information via email before deciding.





Judging Criteria


The D-Prize judging panel is composed of individuals with professional experience distributing life-changing technologies in the developing world.

Contestants are evaluated based on:

      Passion and potential for candidate’s success, as evident by their academic and professional background, relevant skills, and quick leadership trajectory.

      Focus on distribution. Proposals must focus on distributing a proven poverty solution that needs greater access in the developing world.

      Potential for scale, based on the organizational model proposed in the concept note and the entrepreneur’s desire to commit and grow.





Proposal Tips


      Be succinct. Successful proposals are objective and to the point. Orient your proposal towards an educated judge who is relatively knowledgeable with the key issues.

      Scale, impact, cost-effectiveness. Successful entrepreneurs will build a plausible case that their intervention is highly scalable, cost-effective, and will lead to enormous impact.

      Keep within scope. The most successful startups have a narrow focus and avoid spending resources on too many areas. A tightly scoped idea will perform best in this competition.





Concept Note


Please prepare a concept note which responds to the following prompts. Concept notes are limited to three pages.

      Introduction: please begin your concept note with a short 1-3 sentence summarizing your idea.

      Problem: what are the most critical issues preventing better distribution of your selected intervention in your pilot region? Be specific.

      Concept: what is your solution? How will your new pilot venture implement your solution?
We want to understand what you will do, and how you will do it in detail.

      Goals: during your pilot, how many poverty interventions will you distribute during your pilot, at 6 months, and at 1 year? How many people will you help during your pilot, at 6 months, and at 1 year? (This can be a simple table).

      Future Growth: explain your vision for scale. How do your operations grow through your first year? What additional staff will you require, and how have you funded your growing operations?

      Team: list all the people on your team, their responsibilities, their location during the pilot, and the average hours per week they will commit to this venture. If not local to your operating region, please note any developing country experience.



Resumes / CVs


Please include a resume for each person on your team, limited to one page per person. Resumes should highlight the most relevant past leadership roles and accomplishments.



Additional Information


Custom Challenge: are you submitting to a Custom Challenge category? If so:

      When submitting, we will ask you to provide a URL link us to one website with credible evidence that supports your intervention.
      We also recommend you include 1 additional page elaborating on your intervention, and citing evidence that it is proven and in need of greater distribution.

Existing organizations: has your organization already launched? If so, we will ask you to include a summary of your activities since launching, and your current budget / income statement in the submission webform.





Proposal Instructions


      Prepare your concept note and resume, and clearly name your files. Files must be PDF and are limited to a size of 4MB each.

      Input your contact details and upload your documents to www.d-prize.org/submit


Questions?



Email the D-Prize team at help@d-prize.org.
image: insidehighered.com

As an aside, I got the camera today. Not the Panasonic Lumix I hoped for, as none of the stores I went had it, but Canon Powershot ELPH 190 IS. It's got rave ratings/reviews on Amazon, I have never seen any product praised that much. And so far I am very happy with the camera and its pictures. I have take over 90 pictures with it today. It focuses very fast and has image stabilization. Pictures taken while in a speeding bus came out very clear and cool. You can't try that with a phone camera. And the picture quality is superb; Canon stuffed it with a very high technology that makes the auto mode of the camera amazingly good under pretty much all conditions. And it's very small. Tiny.

image: usa.canon.com

Maryland Mall, snapped from inside a speeding bus
Back to today's post.

We all know how we loudly proclaim "I can't kill myself" when we are under immense pressure. And always in the end we overcome the pressure and get some of the results we were seeking.

Well, today, I want you to start using it to your advantage. Don't wait for other people or work to pressure you. You should start taking on big goals and many of them so that you'll get to say "I can't come and go and die" more often. 

This is the approach I use in my personal and career development. I take up more tasks and goals than I logically can handle. I know I can't die from them and in the end I always get results that I wouldn't have gotten had I not even made an attempt. Most importantly, they help me to become better at time management and setting my priorities right.

If you often get home in the evening/night feeling very bad and annoyed because of how someone treated you at a random place -- mall, restaurant, bus-stop, while driving or at the bank. Then you need to fill your life with more big goals and tasks. If you have enough deadlines chasing you and a couple have already overtaken you, you'll miraculously quickly get over what any random person does to you (maybe even immediately give them back the heat, hotter, and move on completely). But when you don't have too much new and uncomfortable things to do each day, you'll start importing home complaints of how someone looked at you in a funny way and how the cashier ignored you and how the KFC girl was extremely rude (and oh yes they can be, especially the Ikeja Computer Village KFC ones).

However, once you load your day with many big tasks and manage get a couple of terrifying deadlines chasing you, in six months your life will never be the same. You will first almost die from the immense pressure and want to turn off some of the goals, but if you keep them on, after sometime you'll just find that you become better at managing the pressure and are seeing some nice positive results of some goals getting achieved.

Everyday, I get no less than five deadlines furiously chasing me. Then I always have two or three already overtaken me (tasks past their deadlines). I don't achieve everything I plan/hope to achieve but I always achieve more than when I had an easier to manage/visualize todo list.

There are just about 14 days left in this month but I have two training classes in Lagos, one training class in Abuja, one training class in Asaba, a volunteer job in Porto-Novo, my online MBA midterm exam and other things that don't give enough prior notice. Still I have a habit of reading, writing daily, working on some long-term projects, finishing the 2017 Data Industry Analysis whitepaper and have rest days. And that's how most of the other months this year have been activity-wise. I don't try to think through them as it results in analysis paralysis and low morale. I just take it one day or two days at a time. Do what I can do. I let the pressure energize me and the deadlines keep me going longer than I would ordinarily have. I still don't achieve all but way more than I would if I had played safe.

Some people find it amazing that I do so much and constantly trying to do more. Well, this is one of my main secrets. Aim for the moon, if you miss you'll still end up where you ordinarily wouldn't have gotten to. Activity-based pressure can't kill you, it is worrying and negative stress that can harm you. So go after all the goals you never thought you had time for and watch as the time will create itself and you'll achieve more.

👍