Publicly traded Anheuser-Busch InBev has expanded its Series A investment in Minnesota-based BanQu, a blockchain startup working to connect members at the earliest stages of global supply chains directly with producers.
Currently, these farmers, miners and other workers at the so-called “last mile” of supply chains frequently don’t qualify for bank accounts, meaning they have to rely on otherwise unnecessary middlemen to connect them with the brands, organizations, and governments that turn their raw materials into products on the open market.
By integrating with banks and mobile money providers like MTN and Airtel, BanQu has already helped over 200,000 individuals connect directly with producers, according to a statement, with the goal of serving 100 million people in extreme poverty by 2023.
While the blockchain industry has swayed over the past year to a focus on how blockchain can save giant enterprises money by removing unnecessary middlemen, the investment by Anheuser-Busch InBev, a member of the inaugural Forbes Blockchain 50 list, and best known as the maker of Budweiser, is a return to blockchain’s roots as a way of empowering the unbanked.
“Through this work, we are helping to create a digital ledger of farmers’ transactions that will create an economic identity and enable access to financial services,” said Maisie Devine, a director at AB InBev, in a statement. “This will ultimately allow farmers to grow their business and improve the livelihoods of their families and communities.”
Belgium-based AB InBev’s work with BanQu was first announced in August 2018 with a pilot in Zambia that served 2,000 of the region’s small-holder cassava farmers with subsequent services brought to Uganda, India Brazil, Costa Rica, India, Indonesia, Jordan, Malawi, Somalia, South Africa,…