Btrust has announced its acquisition of Qala, an organization training the next generation (next-gen) of African Bitcoin and Lightning engineers. The deal, which was completed on September 1, 2023, will see Qala rebrand as the Btrust Builders Programme, to strengthen Btrust’s mission to drive the development and education of Bitcoin open-source engineers from across the Global South.
Launched in 2021, Btrust focuses on fostering developer talent and supporting the free and open-source Bitcoin ecosystem by locating, educating, and remunerating Bitcoin open-source engineers. Originally funded by former Twitter Boss, Jack Dorsey, and rapper & entrepreneur, Jay-Z, Btrust is currently headed up by an African Board of Directors; Abubakar Nur Khalil, Carla Kirk-Cohen, Obi Nwosu, and Ojoma Ochai.
Under the quartet’s leadership, the organization has launched the Africa Open Source Cohort, which offers support to its pioneer member, Vladimir Fomene, working on the Bitcoin Development Kit, and proudly sponsors the Africa Bitcoin Conference, an annual gathering for Bitcoin stakeholders from all around Africa and beyond.
Qala, founded in 2021, sources, trains, and matches African software developers with leading Bitcoin companies from across the world, equipping its engineers with the most sought-after skills in the global Bitcoin talent market. To date, Qala has built Africa’s largest online community of Bitcoin developers spanning over 42 countries including Nigeria, Kenya, and Uganda. With an impressive fellowship placement rate, the programs’ alumni have secured roles at the likes of Galoy, SphinxChat, and Bitnob, as well as open-source grants from Btrust and Superlunar.
Bernard Parah, Co-Founder and Director of Qala, speaking on the acquisition says “Today’s announcement significantly accelerates our mission to build a critical mass of African engineers with a deep understanding of Bitcoin’s capabilities to transform the African continent — strengthening our capacity to not only expand our existing community but effectively resource them to play a major role in influencing Bitcoin’s open-source development as a vital solution to Africa’s unique socio-economic challenges.”
Parah further said, “With this in mind, we strongly believe our new transition should not only be viewed as a massive boost for the Bitcoin ecosystem but a crucial foundation in leveraging Bitcoin as the gateway and catalyst to financial freedom in Africa.”
As part of the deal, Femi Longe; CEO of Qala, and Stephanie Titcombe; Programmes Manager at Qala, will officially join Btrust as Programme Leads at Btrust Builders.
Ojoma Ochai, a Board Member at Btrust welcomed Femi Longe and his excellent team to Btrust.
With Qala’s extensive outreach and world-class programs, the organization has made rapid progress in driving open-source development through the advancement of education which is heavily aligned with Btrust’s core mission.
Ochai said, “As we move forward, we’re fully focussed on not only building on Qala’s impressive work in Africa but empowering more developers with the support they need to build truly innovative open-source solutions through the power of Bitcoin.”
To kickstart the next phase of its growth journey, Btrust Builders’ program will pivot to focus on open-source training and has launched a call for its next cohort of senior African software developers seeking to transition into building for Bitcoin and Lightning.
Btrust Builders this month will launch the ‘Build for Africa’ Hackathon, which seeks to encourage makers to build solutions that solve African challenges and increase Bitcoin adoption in Africa. This will serve as a platform for open innovation and collaborative problem-solving, where makers will converge to generate novel ideas through an idea hack focused on tackling Africa-specific challenges and accelerate their Bitcoin projects through mentorship in design, development, and lighting integration.
The hackathon is a key pre-event for the Africa Bitcoin Conference that will be held on December 1-3, 2023 in Accra, Ghana, which Btrust is proud to support for the second year running.