On Thursday 15 September, Project UBU ran a live test of their e-wallet application at the wot-if Foundation’s Social Good Summit at the Father Louis Blondel centre, in Diepsloot, Johannesburg. Below is a transcript of a talk given by Dudley Baylis, Project UBU founder.
Thank you for the opportunity to talk to you today. I want to tell you a bit about Project UBU especially because today is the first time we are running the project in public. It is fitting that this opening event is with the Wotif foundation and the Social Good Summit because Project UBU is fundamentally about recreating the ways in which money systems work so that the benefit of money is extended to all people. I will also talk in a little while about the Global Goals Jam and how UBU aligns with its sustainable development goals. But before I do that, I want to pay tribute to two amazing women – well, I want actually to pay tribute to all women because I think women are under such threat in society and in our country, and particularly in poor communities and yet it is the women who form and create the cloth – the fabric of our societies and they do so under enormous duress. But the two women I speak of are Pastor Candida Miller and Sharon Boyce. For those of you who don’t know, Sharon is my wife, but she is also the founder of Shumbashaba – just down the road – and it provides various services to the Diepsloot community, primarily involving horses. We were at a Christmas lunch two and a half years ago and talking about the problems that are faced by people every day in communities like Diepsloot and Candida asked a question. She said: I don’t understand why it is that just because people have nothing, don’t have a car or a house or perhaps even an education – that just because of that – why do we think they are worth nothing. Surely God thinks all people are worth something, all people are equal in God’s eyes? And that was the start of what has become Project UBU.
Nelson Mandela famously said – “Overcoming poverty is not a task of charity, it is an act of justice. Like Slavery and Apartheid, poverty is not natural. It is man-made and it can be overcome and eradicated by the actions of human beings. Sometimes it falls on a generation to be great. YOU can be that great generation. Let your greatness blossom.” UBU has its roots in the word UBUNTU which as you know is an Nguni term meaning humanity. But it has also come to mean “I am because we all are”. Ubuntu is something which we lose when we have nothing. A child who does not eat breakfast shows our lack of Ubuntu as a community, a gogo who is not looked after, a mother who can’t feed her children a family who don’t live under a roof. But what if we could share Ubuntu through a type of money which is shared, which brings value and helps people currently without Rands to have more Ubuntu. That’s UBU… what if we can create Ubuntu for everyone through a form of money which helps build Ubuntu.
We live more and more in a world of digital, phones, whatsapp, tablets, even our gogos now have a phone and some of you might have a whatsapp stokvel group. You do not have to be rich or educated to have a phone, and to use it. So imagine if we could share that Ubuntu using our cell phones. Imagine if like today we can send someone a picture, or a voice message which will show love and care, imagine if we could send Ubuntu and change those people’s lives who have no food, or no protection from the rain or care after a gogo or a child…that is what UBU is, it’s a form of money which we share via phones. This is not magic or unexpected and we are not mad… you may have not heard but one of the newest monies in the world today like dollars or pounds is called cryptocurrency, Bitcoin is one example. This is now big worldwide, a form of money which lives on the internet and which many people including some of the richest people in the world are investing in and using. We just want to do it differently with UBU we want to grow this with Ubuntu, not just about making some people rich but sharing wealth.
Today, you are part of the start of a pilot programme to deliver on that promise. Right here, in Diepsloot. A first for South Africa, and a first for the world. Project UBU started because we tried to imagine a world in which everyone, no matter their background, could have their basic needs taken care of. It would be done by use of cellphones -this money called UBU which would be given free to everyone. We hope that in a few years time everyone here in Diesploot will be able to use UBU to buy their basic things that they need. It will not be issued by government or any central authority. It will be a programme run by technology. At that point there will be no more need for people to beg for food, to scrounge for a living in dustbins or to fight with each other to get the basics. A new kind of society can emerge, one that embodies the ideals of UBUNTU and in which everyone can take a useful part in society by the action of helping others.
Lastly, I said I would talk a bit about the Global Goals Jam which this year deals with these Sustainable Development goals: - No Poverty - No Hunger - Health and Wellbeing - Quality Education and - Sustainable Cities and Communities
We think that UBU is aligned with every one of these ambitious, necessary and fundamentally important goals and we wish Wotif, the organisers of the Social Good summit and the Global Goals Jam all of the very best with their endeavours. We hope that UBU can in some way find a home here at Wotif and help in the attainment of these lofty ideals.