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Cryptocurrency is a digital asset and form of exchange. It differs from traditional currency in that it does not exist in a tangible form and is not issued by a central authority. Crypto aims to ameliorate the common issues of currency through this decentralization and placement of power into the currency holders’ hands. Some of the notable benefits of crypto include its immediacy, anonymity, security, and wealth storage capability.
One of the ways that cryptocurrency is stored is through a specific type of database known as blockchain. Essentially, blockchain is the record keeping technology behind the currency; decentralized blockchains maintain a permanent record of transactions that are viewable to anyone. In a blockchain network, all users collectively retain control. The removal of the central authority component also reduces risk levels and removes many transaction fees.
Bitcoin was first introduced in 2009, and since then the world of crypto and blockchain have amassed large amounts of attention for the potential they hold for individual empowerment. As it became mainstream, blockchain was imagined as a “great democratizer,” allowing users to transfer value without the need for institutions to serve as a middleman (Tinianow). However, the technology has fallen short of its vision with its low percentage of minorities and women involved. Anna Ashurov, the co-founder of Diversity in Blockchain advocates for the harnessing of blockchains full potential — being used to uplift underrepresented groups and aiding them to grow and accumulate wealth. She shares that “we have a responsibility to encourage diversity, break barriers, and force a conversation” (Tinianow).
At Simple X, we strive to help bridge the gap between Black professionals and the workforce. In addition to our vision of talent parity, we believe it is important to acknowledge and address the racial wealth gap that exists within the United States. The typical African-American family in the U.S. has 10 times less wealth than the typical white-American family. The median white household net worth is $100,000 to $200,000 whereas the median for African-American households is only $10,000 to $20,000 (Mineo). Historical and present discrimination and structural racism have strongly impacted the ability of Black and minority communities to accumulate generational wealth. This leaves these groups with unequal access to opportunities (such as higher education), a potentially decreased quality of life, and a diminished ability to respond to disasters and crises.
We believe cryptocurrency and blockchain are an important under tapped resource for the Black community. Through their ability to empower individuals, they serve as a valuable resource to encourage financial independence and help to close persistent racial gaps.
Mineo, Liz. “Racial Wealth Gap May Be a Key to Other Inequities.” Harvard Gazette, Harvard Gazette, 17 June 2021, news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2021/06/racial-wealth-gap-may-be-a-key-to-other-inequities/.
Tinianow, Andrea. “Bombshell Report Finds Inclusion Lacking in the Blockchain Industry.” Forbes, Forbes Magazine, 23 Dec. 2019, www.forbes.com/sites/andreatinianow/2019/12/23/bombshell-report-finds-inclusion-lacking-in-the-blockchain-industry/?sh=322e0474a9e1.]]>
Trey Edwards is a Manager at Coinbase and has been passionate about blockchain & digital currency for the past four years. He began his journey by working in the traditional financial industry where he learned first-hand how antiquated our current financial system is. After becoming one of the youngest people in the world to obtain his Master’s in Blockchain & Digital Currency, he began working for Coinbase and now leads their Retail Customer Advocacy team.
When he’s not working, he’s passionate about educating the Black community about this technology and making sure that we’re not only aware of it but are also helping to build the future of the industry. He lives in North Carolina with his beautiful wife and puppy, and outside of blockchain, Trey loves soccer, skydiving and all things Sci-Fi.
Darin Carter is a keynote speaker, a crypto ambassador, and an information security professional who values dedication, service, and excellence. After launching his career in innovation with Ernst & Young, and a couple years building at Salesforce, Darin Carter joined Coinbase’s Security Compliance team and has been working in crypto for 2 years.
As a lifelong learner, Darin has studied at Pennsylvania State University, the University of Cape Town (where he briefly hosted a radio show), and is currently a Master’s candidate at the University of Nicosia, studying Blockchain & Digital Currency. When he’s not learning or working in crypto, Darin loves to watch basketball and travel the world. He is currently living the nomad life, dialing in from San Francisco, New York, Miami, and everywhere in between.
On March 25th, 2021, Simple X brought together Black professionals and allies from Portland and the Pacific Northwest for a virtual Summit. The Summit acted as an accelerator for individuals to gain fellowship in the Portland area. Along with many other influential speakers, we joined Portland Legend Wilson Smith III to celebrate him and hear about his life.
First African American Footwear Designer – Wilson Smith III
Wilson Smith III is a DNA Design Specialist at Nike. He shared his story about growing up in Portland and how his interest in architecture and design led him to a successful career at Nike. Smith has worked on projects that run the gamut of the design profession. He’s developed products for athletes including Michael Jordan, Serena Williams, Derek Jeter and more.
Marcus Carter, Director of Social Equity at Cinder
Blaire G. Hervey, Co-Founder of Visionary Squad
Karen D. Foster, MSIMC, Co-Founder of Visionary Squad
Shaina Pomerantz, JD, MSOL, COO of Race Talks
Yoseph Ukbazghi, co-founder Simple X, LLC
Wilson Kubwayo, co-founder Simple X, LLC
Simple X was founded in 2018 to empower individuals and organizations by designing a space for people to connect, create, and cultivate their path to success. Creating space for collaboration, providing information, and connecting individuals to resources.
Each Simple X business venture is rooted in equity, knowledge distribution, and customer satisfaction.
Our founders Yoseph Ukbazghi and Wilson Kubwayo, were inducted into the Portland Business Journal class of 2020 forty under 40. We want to thank everyone who has supported us throughout this journey as Simple X has morphed and shifted since inception. In 2018, Trailblazers DJ, David ‘OG ONE’ Jackson, heard our vision and decided to amplify our message. Two years later we have reached thousands of individuals, collaborated with Portland’s top leaders and executives and are soon launching our e-learning platform.
Where there is opportunity, there comes responsibility. As we continue to bridge the gap between black professionals and the workplace, providing the highest quality of service is our top priority. If you would like to work with us, learn more at www.simpleX.work
Read Yoseph’s article here
Read Wilson’s article here
Thanks to our collaborators:
David Jackson, Stephen Green, Kary Youman, Serilda Summers Mc-Gee, Jamal Fox, Sara Boone, Danielle Outlaw, Tiffani Penson, Tracy Mack-Askew, Libra Forde, Wilson Smith III, Shari Dunn, Ben Kenyon, Ronnie Wright, Dr. Alisha Mooreland-Capuia Cedrick Hudson, Amir Morgan, Pia Wilson-Body, & Lakecia Gunter
On Saturday, December 12, 2020, we celebrated our 2nd year anniversary titled Build Your Future: Striving for success with intention. We were honored to bring together an intimate dialogue on charting a career path in the age of virtual connection with two amazing leaders from our City of Roses: Lakecia Gunter, VP and General Manager of IoT at Microsoft & Pia Wilson, President of Intel Foundation.
Pia Wilson-Body is president of the Intel Foundation.
Pia oversees the foundation’s approach for achieving impact and realizing the organization’s mission and goals. Pia has served as Executive Director of the Intel Foundation and Director of Greater Americas Corporate Affairs, where she increased Intel’s thought leadership and commitment to corporate social responsibility and social impact in underserved communities.
In addition, she led the design and deployment of Intel’s veterans initiative as part of the White House Joining Forces initiative, led by former first lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden.
Pia holds a bachelor’s from Spelman College. She serves on numerous boards including YWCA USA board of directors, Center of Women’s Leadership, Council of Foundations advisory board and Oregon Black Historical Museum.
Lakecia Gunter is the Vice President and General Manager, IOT Global and Strategic Engagement at Microsoft.
She is responsible for designing and executing Microsoft’s IoT ecosystem strategy to drive disruptive growth opportunities with the largest and most influential global solution and service partners from edge to cloud, accelerating revenue growth for the IOT and Mixed Reality markets.
Lakecia previously served as the Vice President of the Programmable Solutions Group and General Manager of Ecosystem Development and Operations at Intel Corporation.
During her time at Intel, Lakecia delivered 2X revenue growth through the implementation of new business models. Lakecia earned a Master of Science in Electrical Engineering from Georgia Institute of Technology and a Bachelors of Science degree in Computer Engineering from University of South Florida.
Lakecia has a podcast called ROAR with Lakecia: a weekly dose of inspirational stories, candid insights, and indispensable tips, tools, and resources that will lead you to achieve more. She is also a member of the Executive Leadership Council.
Simple X readies launch of e-learning platform by Matthew Kish
Wilson Kubwayo and Yoseph Ukbazghi launched Simple X in December 2018 in order to help Black professionals and allies network and grow their careers.
They envisioned a series of mixers, events, workshops and podcasts.
The mixers quickly became so successful that Kubwayo and Ukbazghi didn’t have much time to develop the other parts of the business. Attendance doubled nearly every event and topped out at 250.
“The mixers just blew up,” Kubwayo said. “They became so successful that they consumed all of our time.”
But then the pandemic hit.
Kubwayo and Ukbazghi continued to host events online, but they also found time to build out the instructional side of the business, which they’ve named Simple X Agency.
In January, they’ll formally launch the platform, which will consist of 10 virtual workshops on a range of topics including leadership training, personal finance, resume building and salary negotiation.
“Very specific individuals have very specific information and some people get access to that information and some people don’t,” Ukbazghi said.
Simple X Agency, like Simple X events, will allow participants to pay what they can afford.
The workshops will be live, but also will be archived.
“We want to have a robust-, e-learning system,” Kubwayo said. “Log in, have an account, take whatever classes we offer. That’s the goal.”
Kubwayo said Simple X survey respondents consistently rank professional advancement a top priority.
Simple X continues to look for partners who can help underwrite the cost of creating workshops.
“Affordability is huge,” Kubwayo said. “Our hope is that we can partner with different companies to offset the cost. That way we can maintain our pay-what-you-can-afford approach.”
Workshops will average around two hours. They’re designed to be practical.
“They’re based on the needs we see,” Kubwayo said. “If I want to learn something, how would I like to learn it? I would like to learn in a short format that’s very specific.”
Kubwayo and Ukbazghi hope to post new workshops two or three times, but will start with once a month.
Long-term, Kubwayo and Ukbazghi may seek accreditation for the workshops. Kubwayo, who holds an MBA, currently teaches at Portland Community College.
“That’s definitely a goal,” Ukbazghi said. “There’s one component of having tangible information that people can use. There’s another where people can put things on their resume and leverage that for potential career advancement.”
Simple X will continue to host quarterly mixers.
The next, on Dec. 12, will feature Intel Foundation President Pia Wilson-Body and Microsoft Vice President Lakecia Gunter. The event will include 30 minutes of virtual networking, then a moderated discussion with Wilson-Body and Gunter.
Although the pandemic has squeezed events businesses, Kubwayo said it’s also enabled Simple X to expand its reach.
“The pandemic has changed everything,” he said. “It’s allowed us to think beyond Portland. And we can think bigger in terms of guests and have an even bigger profile.”