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Qala, a little-known African non-profit has been quietly training developers to work at Bitcoin and Lightning Network firms across the continent.
Earlier this week the group announced it’s getting the financing it needs to scale up its efforts—with a little support from billionaire Bitcoiner Jack Dorsey. And it’s now been acquired by Btrust.
Btrust, a non-profit organization dedicated to decentralizing development of BTC software, announced its deal to acquire Quala earlier this week and rename it the Btrust Builders Programme.
“This is more of a strategic merger rather than a traditional financial acquisition,” said Femi Longe, Programme Lead at Btrust Builders and ex-CEO of Qala, told Decrypt via email. The “acquisition”, he added, was “not for a monetary value.”
Dorsey collaborated with rapper Jay-Z to establish Btrust as a blind trust for Bitcoin development in 2021, backed by 500 BTC worth $23.6 million at the time. Its acquisition of Qala is synergistic: The former provides the funding, while the latter provides the existing talent network and education system.
The newly renamed organization’s fundamental goal remains the same–onboarding and training African engineers seeking careers in Bitcoin and lightning development. The group’s alumni have already moved on to work at a wide array of companies in the sector, including SphinxChat, Galoy, Bitnob, Chaincode Labs, HeartBit, Ibex, and Rigly.
Developments from these companies have proven eye-catching. In 2022, Galoy’s platform introduced Stablesats, a novel method of transacting synthetic dollars over Bitcoin’s Lightning Network. Last month, Chaincode Labs introduced ChatBTC, a ChatGPT spinoff focused on Bitcoin education.
Going forward, however, Longe said the non-profit will “de-emphasize” training developers for job placements, instead promoting contributions to open-source BTC and Lightning projects, such as Bitcoin Core.
Qala said it sees promise in Bitcoin’s evolution in Africa as a “currency” rather than just a “digital asset.” The spokesperson cited companies like Machankura (a service for transacting Bitcoin without the internet) and Bitnob (enabling BTC-powered inter-African currency transfers) as evidence of this.
“These businesses serve as inspiration for a new generation of builders to start looking at ways to leverage the capabilities that Bitcoin provides,” said Longe.