Meet Dominique — Single mother and small business owner
After spending the day in Rocinha with Airfox user Robson Carlos, a Brazilian mototaxi driver, bartender, and property manager, we ventured further into the sprawling maze of alleys and streets in South America’s largest favela. We moved through the congested roads, mesmerized by the constant buzz of motorcycles and pedestrians. Nearly a quarter of Rio’s population, or about 1.5 million people, live in the city’s 700+ favelas. These areas, in their irregular and unregulated nature, often lack basic services and public investment. Disparity throughout the city is both profound and highly visible, and a third of the population do not have bank accounts due to exorbitant fees, interest rates, and overly bureaucratic systems.
But what caught our eye more than the poverty and crime in the favelas, were the people just trying to get by. Mothers and children zigzagged from drug store to bakery to post office. Barbers sat outside, waving at people who passed by their shops. Taxi drivers leaned against graffiti-splattered walls, calling out for customers. We had been in Rocinha for a week and although the disarray was starting to feel more familiar, I could not help but think about how different it was from Boston, the city that Airfox calls home. As the evening approached, those who worked throughout the city returned to the favela and there was an immediate influx of life. We walked up the grueling hill for another hour and arrived at a small clothing shop that belonged to Airfox user Dominique Cruz, a Brazilian single-mother who lives in Rocinha with her parents and daughter.
After leaving a company that she worked at for five years, Dominique found herself unemployed in Rocinha for an entire year. To support herself and her family, she opened up a children’s clothing store. As a small business owner, Dominique was quickly overwhelmed by the financial barriers faced by many in similar situations — absurdly expensive fees to complete payments, interest rates as high as 400%, maddeningly snail-paced queues at the only 2 bank branches in the favela and nightmare attempts to deposit and withdraw from ATMs.
“The Airfox app has made my life a lot easier,” Dominique told us. “I’m able to stay on top of my daily finances.”
Dominique explained that the Airfox app has significantly changed her financial reality. Before Airfox, she went to lottery houses to pay bills, and lost days of work standing in dreaded bank lines to complete other payments. With Airfox, her customers can transfer money directly into her mobile wallet so she no longer has to fearfully carry cash around the city. With her mother, uncle, brother, and daughter also using the Airfox app, the family is able to provide mobile top-ups for one another, transfer money without any fees, and pay electricity, water, and phone bills.
“The more people that use Airfox, the better it gets for all of us,” said Dominique.
The Airfox app has saved Dominique, her family and many others significant amounts of money and time. Decentralized technology is crucial to disrupting the poverty cycle and democratizing financial services. The Airfox team is using blockchain to support economic empowerment, inclusion, and social justice for the underserved. We are passionate about narrowing the wealth gap between rich and poor by bringing financial inclusion to the bottom of the pyramid using AirToken, our Ethereum-based ERC-20 digital utility token. Please stay tuned for Airfox Stories from Brazil: Part 3.
About the author
As Head of Marketing Katie Sedat is focused on building the Airfox brand internationally and growing awareness. She comes to Airfox with over a decade of experience marketing a wide-range of consumer products. Katie is a graduate of Emerson College, and most recently led user acquisition for the mCent app at Jana Mobile, building a user base of over 32 million. She has managed consumer marketing efforts throughout Southeast Asia, Africa, and Latin America.