Deborah Ojengbede is CEO of AFEN, an African native blockchain. As a prominent figure in an ecosystem primarily dominated by males, Deborah is a trailblazer. In an interview with Technext, she shares the responsibilities that come with that tag and the fantastic work AFEN is set out to do in the African blockchain space.
Her journey into the world of blockchain started in 2020. During the Covid-19 pandemic, she started to realise the potential of blockchain technology. Coming from the traditional banking sector, Deborah Ojengbede was intrigued by the idea of a decentralised and trustless payment system.
“I did a lot of research. At that time, I had already put my money in crypto, so I just had to understand how it works. As I began to learn, I began to understand the technology behind it,” she says.
Deborah Ojengbede’s journey with AFEN Blockchain
According to Deborah, the whole idea of AFEN started because there was a drive to create an enabling environment for people looking to get into the web3 space.
She remarks that the experience has been amazing and it’s exciting to see their impact on the future of the African blockchain scene. Deborah Ojengbede didn’t possess blockchain work experience before AFEN, but she managed the transition by being open-minded and eager to learn.
“I did a lot of research, attended events and connected with people doing amazing things in the industry. This helped me gain knowledge that was critical to my transition. A lot of people thought I was crazy, leaving the bank and going into what didn’t seem certain to a lot of people. My experience in the traditional banking system also prepared me.”
There are reports that Deborah resigned from a well-paying job in the bank to focus on AFEN. She confirms this to Technext and says she has always loved the idea of technology making life so easy for humans, and what gave her confidence was the knowledge she had accumulated.
“It’s been both a challenging and inspiring experience. When I say challenging, not in a bad way. It challenged me to want to work harder and be better. But on the flip side, I’m also inspired because it allows me to be a role model for women who want to navigate the web3 space and make a difference.”Deborah Ojengbede.
Deborah says AFEN is trying to build an ecosystem that makes it easy for Africans looking to get into the web3 space. They do this through education and different high-level collaborations with stakeholders.
The unique selling point of AFEN is that the firm is more focused on building an ecosystem that supports African talents and innovation in the blockchain industry.
“We are doing this with our product. Aside being a community, we also have a couple of builds. Some that are already being launched. For instance, NftyTribe NFT marketplace built by AFEN, a launchpad for creators that are looking to get into the space.”
In retrospect, the reception of AFEN Blockchain in Africa has been amazing. Deborah Ojengbede recounts that it was rocky at first, but as the good news of the blockchain technology spread, it got easier.
“We’ve been deliberate about building capacity and trust and we’ve received tremendous support from the African blockchain community and beyond. We are very much grateful for that.”
There were some publications that AFEN Blockchain, led by Deborah Ojengbede, raised $1 million in a day, but she has shed more light on the unclear matter in this interview with Technext.
AFEN blockchain did have a successful token Initial DEX Offering (IDO) round that sold out in minutes, according to Deborah. This resulted from the team’s preparation leading to the event. The success was also because of some unique value propositions resonating with the investors interested in supporting blockchain innovation in Africa.
“However, it’s important to state that the one-day IDO didn’t raise $1 million. We had already kickstarted our private sale and pre-seed round way ahead of our IDO, which accounted for about 50% of our total funds raised. Our fundraising consisted of the pre-seed round, our private token sale and token IDO. But the token IDO was what was all over the news because it sold out in a matter of minutes, just in a day.
Metacitti and Real Estate Tokenisation
Deborah Ojengbede and AFEN Blockchain have plans to launch Metacitti and tokenise real estate in Nigeria. However, there has been a palpable decline in the hype around NFT and Metaverse recently.
Deborah, however, says the plans are still ongoing despite this downturn of excitement. She says the broader industry is going through a tough phase, and it all goes down to the fact the market is still early, which is why they are taking their time with the launch of Metacitti.
“We see impending regulation surrounding asset tokenisation and but we believe that there’s still significant potential for blockchain adoption across various sectors, even real estate sectors and we are committed to exploring all the avenues to make Metacity a successful project,” she explains
Blockchain in Africa
Crypto and blockchain have gained much momentum in Africa, especially from a speculative standpoint. However, we are just getting there when it gets to actual innovation, but in some regard, Deborah Ojengbede says crypto and blockchain have fared well.
“It’s an emerging market like Africa that we truly need blockchain technology.
I think that African authorities can strike a balance between soft and strict regulation to ensure that we have healthy growth in the blockchain industry while also protecting consumers. If consumers don’t feel protected, it’s going to hinder the growth of the ecosystem.”
Deborah Ojengbede says AFEN is very much open to having conversations with the incoming Nigerian government and other authorities to drive blockchain adoption in Nigeria and across Africa.
“There’s lot of exciting updates in the pipeline. We took a lot of time during the bear market to build so there are a lot of exciting updates. We have a product activation coming. We have an exhibition coming up in Abuja on May 27th. A lot of product activation and exciting partnerships as well. Stay tuned for updates.”
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