BitPesa, the Kenyan startup which aims to lower the cost of remittances in Africa, has introduced a new service which enables NGOs to automatically exchange their bitcoin donations into Kenyan shillings which are then deposited directly into "their corporate mobile money wallet."
The Tunapanda Institute, Heshima Children's Centre and Reaching Out with Compassion in Kibera are 3 NGO's which are now utilising the service. "“We’ve already received Bitcoin donations in the past, and look forward to receiving more through the BitPesa platform.” said Jay Larson, Founder of Tunapanda Institute. “These funds will help us build an open source platform to deploy learning content in low-bandwidth areas globally.”
By converting bitcoin donations to fiat, the charities will forgo any future appreciation in the price of bitcoin but this is likely the best means of assisting Kenyans who need help today, not in the years to come.
Richard Boase, who spoke to Let's Talk Bitcoin about his naive charity adventures in Kenya, found out first hand what happens when you come bearing Bitcoin gifts to those who have greater needs. Boase, who raised donations to purchase Android tablets containing a small amount of bitcoin, explained to recipients that the gifts were something to hold on to for the future. His advice was ignored and the tablets were quickly sold for cash.