Empowering Women in Blockchain – Dinner and Data

Empowering Women in Blockchain – Dinner and Data

Empowering Women in Blockchain – Dinner and Data

Empowering women in blockchain was an invitation only event that attracted a group of influential, thoughtful, interesting and determined women in the blockchain space. The conversation was guided by our strong interest in where blockchain and fintech may lead and the hoped-for outcomes.

The overwhelming desire from the assembled guests was for faster, more transparent products and services with more benefits to the customer. They wanted to enable and grow the borderless digital economy and help startups participate in it.

Natalie Furness (Communications Director, MedicalChain), enthused us all talking about how blockchain technology can be used to store health records and maintain a single version of the truth. This has a far deeper consequence that might initially be imagined.

Different organisations such as doctors, hospitals, laboratories, pharmacists and health insurers can request permission to access a patient’s MedicalChain record to serve their purpose and record “transactions” on a distributed ledger.

All our guests around the table were very concerned about the future of healthcare and how the delivery needs updating – we felt we should own our own health records (they should not be the property of the Department of Health, or anyone else other than the patient).

The ownership of health records and accurate reliable recording of such items using blockchain technologies has a far more important underlying effect than might be thought on first read…it goes to the heart of general as well as specifically female economic empowerment and agency.

Around the world women are statistically less likely than men to have a birth certificate or other essential documentation that conveys agency and independence, according to the World Bank.

Blockchain can steeple-jump this anachronistic state for women by offering a safe, cost efficient way to deliver (and preserve) their digital IDs where land ownership (read the broader issue of economic property rights for women), bank accounts and jobs can be provided and recorded freely, securely, reliably and permanently within the formal global economy (as opposed to the informal or black global economy).

Worldwide, women own less than 20% of the total recorded titled land according to data from the United Nations. Blockchaining the records of titled land ownership without the intervention of government or the requirement for a male relative to endorse or indeed more likely, contest, the title record has to be a step forward for women (and a step back for patronymic social systems and the downright dishonest).

Sadly, the statistics speak for themselves across the globe. Everyday, women are being overworked and woefully underpaid. Everyone knows the age-old adage: “a woman’s work is never done”. But perhaps the expression should be “a woman’s work is never paid.”

A United Nations Development Programme Study (link to UNDP study) describes how in Africa, women make up more than half of the population and contribute to 75% of agricultural labour, and yet they hold just 1% of assets and account for 10% of total earnings. See How Cryptocurrency can help women https://bit.ly/2MxQgKV

Mobile phones have given individuals in many regions a stronger voice. This has happened through the deployment of mobile technology in developing economies, which in turn allows those economies to leap frog capital investment barriers found in the developed economies, e.g. the difference between bricks and mortar banking and financial services and mobile or online banking. Africa will very likely have full, mobile-only, banking before Europe.

Around the world, 42% of women still do not have their own back account – this statistic probably seems unthinkable in this day and age if you live in a developed economy. Many of the barriers to entry that prevent women holding bank accounts in developing economies will be circumvented by the ability to hold health records (establishing a digital ID) on a secure distributed ledger (made possible by blockchain).

Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies, micropayment and informal employment will help circumvent other barriers to women gaining wealth and agency.

Although it had failed by August 2015, SMS wallet provider 37Coins stimulated the creation of competitors trying to tackle the same issue – delivery or a cryptocurrency wallet.

37Coins created a mobile SMS wallet for the sending, receipt and storage of bitcoins via SMS in conjunction with Blockstream. Find an introduction to Blockstream on wiki here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blockstream.

37Coins ran into problems of reliability of its SMS wallet when executing transfers between mobile network providers – it could not persuade the mobile networks to resolve this issue and the innovative Company concluded that it could not raise sufficient capital itself, to solve the problem directly.

Equalising economic opportunities in developing countries is bedeviled by a lack of infrastructure. Blockchain serves as a tool for change.

In developing economies, the battle is always one to empower underrepresented parties. Just 18% of men and women in the Middle East and Africa hold savings accounts, compared with 89% of the population in high-income countries, according to The Economist in 2014.

Worldwide, around 40% of women are considered “unbanked”, a figure seven percentage points higher than their male counterparts, according to a study by the World Bank. – Unbanked is used to describe individuals or groups that lack access to accounts and services traditionally provided by financial institutions, and in particular the ability to borrow, which is an essential route to capital and income smoothing over a lifetime.

On a more upbeat note we discussed some wonderful examples of successful ICOs this year with women at the helm:

Despite the relatively high risk associated with ICO fundraising, 2018 has already brought numerous success stories, from #Tezos CEO Kathleen Breitman who raised $232 million in July 2017 – “the most ever for an ICO to date,” reported Forbes – to Galia Benartzi who generated a whopping $156 million for her company #Bancor in a mere three hours. https://bit.ly/2MxQgKV

There has been much progress made in equalizing opportunities and access to capital over the last 50 years (compared to the previous 5,000) but there is still an awful lot more work to do. We are keen to see more stories from across the world where Fintech and Blockchain are making a real difference in the everyday life of women.

Appropriately enough, given the evening, we also discussed #Nitechain – Anna Frankowska (CEO and Co-Founder) was telling us about how the entertainment and drinks industry were really getting behind her blockchain powered nightlife market place. She is aiming to give customers a better quality experience and to map where the hotspots are with transparent reviews. I doubt this event would reach Nitechain due to its private nature, but the Nitechain idea struck a chord all the same.

In all that we do at ACF Equity Research we like to support an equal gender balance within the company wherever possible. We also like to get lots of female positive companies to come and speak at our events.


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Christopher Nicholson, Managing Director, ACF Equity Research

Christopher Nicholson

Managing Director/Head of Research

I am a financial analyst, entrepreneur, professionally qualified equestrian and amateur eventer. Amongst others, I trained as a financial analyst at Global US based fund manager Legg Mason Investors and have been head of Technology and Media Equity Research at Bryan Garnier, a pan-European investment bank and brokerage.

I founded ORACA Independent Equity Research a ground breaking highly independent thinking large-cap secondary comm business and ACF Equity Research, a very high-quality independent issuer-pays small and mid-cap research business. I opened our first corporate finance business (Destrier Partners) and am approaching the launch of our first non-financial services business. In my view, I am only able to do these things because of the quality of the team I work with at ACF. For 11 years I broadcasted as an expert guest and wrote regularly in the leading pan-European and international media including Bloomberg Television, BBC Radio 4 and the Financial Times.

I studied Biochemistry at Kings followed by Economics at LSE and can conduct business in English and French, I speak German and have basic knowledge of Spanish and Italian. My free time, which I make sure I carve out, is in part each day spent on my passion – riding, competing with and caring for my horse(s).

 Mike Wort,Non-Executive Chairman, ACF Equity Research

Mike Wort

Non-Executive Chairman

I have managed over 20 IPOs in the US, UK and Europe from small to large cap, I am proud to be ACF Equity Research’s Non-Executive Chairman.

I am also Executive Chairman of Texadon Oil Plc focussed on oil & gas production in the Texas Gulf Basin and is a Non-Executive Director of UK AiM listed Diaceutics, a diagnostics commercialisation business. I am a life sciences communications expert and have a background in large and mega cap pharmaceuticals.

During my more  thann  20 IPOs and secondary raisings I have brought in well in excess of £600m.

In addition, I have co-founded a number of life science start-up companies in Europe and the USA.

I am a life science communications expert and former life sciences CEO (large to start-up). He graduated in microbiology and lectured to science undergraduates in both the UK and Nigeria. He joined the pharmaceutical industry, working in a number of senior sales, marketing and clinical roles for Glaxo, SmithKline and Wellcome in the UK and overseas.

Appointed IR Manager for Wellcome, I helped organise its global roadshow for a £2.4bn secondary offering.

I have consulted on and conducted M&A and DD in the life science sector and developed disaster recovery programmes for SME companies.

I worked with Deutsche Bank to privatise the Bulgarian pharmaceutical industry. As the CEO of Balkanpharma, I led the consolidation of the three key assets into one cohesive unit. Balkanpharma has, through a series of M&A activities, become a significant part of NYSE listed Allergan.

Formerly MD at De Facto Communications, Bell Pottinger’s healthcare offering, I recently retired from Walbrook, the UK’s most successful SME PR/IR agency.


Amalia Barnoschi, Head of Operations, ACF Equity Research

Amalia Barnoschi

Head of Operations

Joining ACF at its founding I started in financial services in 2007 on the sell-side with ORACA, a large-cap independent equity research business that changed the industry. Before financial services I was a highly successful and rapidly promoted young manager in manufacturing and have worked closely at board level for over 15 years with SMEs in the City and in other financial markets.

I co-run ACF with our MD, as Head of Operations, responsible for driving profitability and developing and designing processes and managing projects for ACF and for client partners to allow our portfolio of businesses to grow. I am bilingual English/Romanian, read Italian and am working towards my accountancy ACCA qualification with AAT.

I love to relax by making time for my favourite out-of-hours activity – photography – taking my first formal nature course in May 2018. I have a keen understanding and interest in horses, though not a rider, this is combined with a life-long love of polo.

Anne Castagnede, Head of Sales & Strategy, ACF Equity Research

Anne Castagnede

Head of Sales & Strategy

I am a sales professional with a top-tier luxury goods background. In the past 5 years I managed flagship boutiques as well as working for some of the great Haute Couture houses including Chanel and Jimmy Choo, where I established a reputation as a top performer by developing, maintaining and offering information and guidance to new and existing clients.

I have researched, recommended and implemented service opportunities as well as improvements. In the early days of my career I trained with Air France and later with Chanel. On my journey I acquired management skills from back office through to front office and have a high degree of practical IT literacy.

I know from personal experience that passion leads the way to perfection and my will to learn matched with my sales ability will result in clients being in very capable hands. My bilingual languages are French and English and I speak Spanish. Off-duty my passions are languages and art.

Renas Sidahmed, Sales & Strategy / Staff Analyst, ACF Equity Research

Renas Sidahmed

Head of ESG / Staff Analyst

I am a macro-economic and financial analyst, linguist, mathematician, professional dancer and chef. I worked for four years with the IMF, two and half years with the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and eight months with the World Bank in Washington DC.

I also wrote award winning research notes and met with senior politicians with varied global and local interests in both wealthy and less developed economies. My sector expertise includes natural resources (particularly oil & gas) healthcare, manufacturing, infrastructure and investment portfolio management.

At ACF, as part of my staff analyst role, I am also Head of ESG / Sustainability and its products and services.

Before joining ACF Equity Research, I worked with Japan’s second largest brokerage, Mitsubishi Bank, in the London office. I speak six languages including English (native), Italian, French and Arabic and obtained an MBA in Rome and a Mathematics degree from a sister Ivy League – Smith College. I joined ACF because of its entrepreneurial, female friendly City culture, overarching global values and excellent growth prospects.

Anthony Kimber

Anthony Kimber

Senior Analyst ESG / Sustainability

I have considerable experience in the wealth management and private banking industries. I am co-author of the Platforum UK Wealth Management Market Overview report, and previously was Research Director at PAM Insight, a specialist publisher for the wealth management industry. I engage in research and analysis both qualitative and quantitative and am an experienced project and business development manager. I have been commissioned by UHNWI's, companies and organisations for various bespoke projects.

I also contribute to major news and media organisations, compiling and analysing data and research for the Daily Telegraph and Evening Standard on national government and environmental issues. Prior, I contributed to the Guardian, the Spectator, BBC news and investigative programming, the Sunday Times, and the Sunday Times Rich List.

My interest in ESG and sustainability is focused on raising awareness and achieving practical and workable solutions to the climate crisis we are facing. I enjoy spending my free time with family and friends, watching cricket, theatre and film.

Anda Maria Onu, Sales & Strategy, ACF Equity Research

Anda Maria Onu

Sales & Strategy

I have strong analytical, planning and execution skills, I love working as part of a team both inside ACF and externally with our clients and prospective clients.

I am used to working with and within senior leadership teams and understand the needs of small and medium sized companies through my current and previous professional experience, I graduated in life sciences with a specialisation in Ecology and Environmental Protection in Romania in 2007 and for my first job I worked in a laboratory carrying out chemical analysis of industrial waste-water.

I am passionate about the environment and work as a volunteer for the Sussex Wildlife Trust doing conservation work at the Old Lodge nature reserve. In my spare time I am a school governor and have been a juror at the Royal Court of Justice. My hobbies are dance, horses, swimming, opera and theatre.

Zak Mir, Technical Analyst, ACF Equity Research

Zak Mir

Technical Analyst

Zak Mir has 30 years financial markets experience and understands credible influencing across digital channels in order to drive stock liquidity. He is an accomplished author.

I am part of ACF’s advisory and execution team helping growth companies (nano, micro, small and mid-cap) maximise their profiles to achieve the optimal investment message.

Amongst others I have worked for Man Group companies, Berkeley Futures and Sucden. I have been a technical analyst, derivatives broker and Chief Market Strategist for a number of brokers in the retail space developing and optimising client trading strategies. I ran the well-attended annual Master Investor conferences and am a keynote speaker at the UK investor show. I also host the CityAM Podcast.

Analytical communications is part of my forte – I have variously been a markets columnist, editor and commentator for influential retail financial information outlets, amongst others – Investors Chronical, Yahoo! Finance, Shares Magazine, international leading long-form periodical The Spectator, CNBC and Bloomberg TV.

Away from the markets, I am a song writer and musician and have a long and patient interest in politics – areas that continue to be potential additional professional careers.
I was attracted to ACF because of the effectiveness of its high quality research and its forwarding thinking culture.

Richard Calvert, Director, Distribution & Service, ACF Equity Research

Richard Calvert

Director, Distribution & Service

I’m a Modern Marketing Strategist with a strong CXM, digital transformation and innovation background working with global blue chip clients, modern creative and media agencies and start-ups.

I put people, data, technology and brand at the heart of everything I do – always delivering highly creative and effective integrated solutions with engaged, excited teams. I believe in taking everyone from the Account Exec to the C-suite client with me on the journey.

I work with Global clients as easily as entrepreneurial start-ups across a broad range of categories from Automotive to FMCG, Financial Services and Technology. My recent focus has been on Digital integration; Relationship Marketing; Content Planning and Brand evolution.

Specialties: Strategic Planning, CXM, Digital and Business Transformation, Programmatic Marketing, Proposition Development, Content Planning, User Experience Development and Design, Mobile, Consumer Insight Development, Brand Planning and Development, Information Architecture and Design, Business Development, Digital Channel Strategy Development, Brand Development, CRM Strategy and Delivery, Business Development

Vicky Ryce, Director, Research Distribution, ACF Equity Research

Vicky Ryce

Director, Research Distribution

I am a digital communications and distribution specialist and strategist used to board level decision making. I started my career as part of the ground-breaking young cadre that for a short exciting time formed the original Text 100, and whose members have gone on to lead and influence thought in digital communications.

During my career I have worked with world leading agency Publicis and counselled the C-suite of some of the world’s biggest public companies, including Philips, Xerox and Microsoft, on how to improve their communications reach and then helping them execute. I also work with smaller and mid-sized private and public companies on the FTSE 250 and below. I am as comfortable dealing with retail reach, as with corporate and institutional capital markets distribution strategies.

I am an equestrian, proven entrepreneur and charitable volunteer and when I can cut out the time, I help young adults via the Princes Trust. I am an English and History graduate with an MA in Media and Culture. ACF Equity Research has a determined problem solving, enlightened forward-thinking capital markets culture and a global values set.

Adrian Chiappe, Editor, ACF Equity Research

Adrian Chiappe


Adrian has over 20 years investment research writing, editing and supervisory analysis experience for leading investment banks including Barclays Capital, UBS, BNP Paribas, Jefferies, S&P, Danske Bank, ABN Amro, Lombard Odier and Bear Stearns.

He has a deep understanding of his subject. Adrian has executed editing and supervisory analysis for investment banks, brokerages and fund managers. He has up-to-date knowledge of the operational and regulatory framework for international institutional equities markets. Adrian is a materials scientist and has languages