Written by Andrew Seale
The conundrum with blockchain is proponents have put the emphasis on selling it to governments and corporations as a tool to disrupt all other tools. With Blockchain Learning Group and Blockscale Solutions, Chami Akmeemana is taking a different approach. He’s trying to illustrate how it empowers people and businesses.
“Our approach is to empower them and say let's educate your trainers and bring you into a discussion with the trained developers of the business and ideate together,” he says. “Now the business and the tech team understand the technology a lot better.”
Akmeemana’s approach has evolved since he first came across the blockchain white paper a few years ago and decided to sink his teeth into ethereum. But becoming a blockchain and artificial intelligence specialist wasn't always the path. He initially pursued a career as a police officer in London, foregoing a Ph.D. in Bioceramic Engineering at Queen Mary, University of London. He followed his career in law enforcement into government affairs working with both businesses and regulators.
After a stint in Australia, he came to Toronto as the startup scene was heating up. Last year, he launched both the Blockchain Learning Group and Blockscale Solutions.
“Blockchain Learning Group focuses on corporate and government training,” he says. “We go into organizations, spend five days to a couple of months training their IT team on blockchain technology and teaching them to code.”
Then they bring the business and technology together to do some ideation, quickly develop a couple of applications to test the viability and proof of concept before the companies go down the blockchain route.
Blockscale Solutions is on the customized product development side.
“Our work is global,” says Akmeemana. “Most of our developers are from Toronto … this gives us the opportunity to bring homegrown talent to the global market.”
Blockchain Learning Group is in the midst of its Blockchain for High Schools Initiative, a program with six different high schools throughout Toronto and sessions scheduled in Montreal, Vancouver, as well as Australia, US and Iceland. The sessions expose students to blockchain as a potential pathway. They’re also working on developing a curriculum for schools and an online blockchain course.
Akmeemana says they emphasize training for girls, having trained 14 at Bishops Strachan School in Toronto and 14 teenaged girls in Melbourne.
Governments and organizations like the United Nations have also reaped the benefit of their programming. Blockscale Solutions recently developed a land registry for India. “We trained the TMX Group,” he says pointing out that both the City of Toronto and six ministries in Ontario have also undergone Blockchain Learning Group's programming.
But it’s the corporations where their efforts will be intensified over the next little while.
“We have a good developer community here, they're just not given enough opportunities within the market to work on interesting blockchain projects,” he says. It’s something both his blockchain businesses are actively working to change. Ideally, he says he’d love to have 50 percent of his business be in Toronto.
Akmeemana says he’s worried all this homegrown blockchain talent is being forced to look beyond the market here for opportunity. In the meantime, he’s going to work on building that opportunity.
“It is frustrating but I'm optimistic,” he says. “I'm hoping Toronto will become less and less conservative and more open to trying these new technologies.”
Photo credit: Cameron Bartlett (www.snappedbycam.com)