Alain Roberto Berwa, a Rwandan-born entrepreneur based in the US, is an enthusiastic adopter of blockchain technology who specialises in smart contracts and is dedicated to innovating and growing the industry. In order to create tools that are easier and more accessible for developers and users to engage with smart contracts—programmes stored on a blockchain that run when predetermined conditions are met—he founded Seal, a venture-backed start-up. The start-up’s goal is to accelerate the adoption of the blockchain (a technology that enables the secure sharing of information), particularly smart contracts on the Ethereum platform (decentralised blockchain with smart contract functionality.) He looks forward to lowering the barriers and enabling a wave of innovation by offering people the tools they require to create and interact with decentralised applications. “My start-up particularly focuses on African developers, inclusive of Rwandans, and provides them with the necessary tools and support, with a motive to foster innovation and development through blockchain technology in the continent.’ ALSO READ: How Rwanda uses blockchain technology to ease land transactions Love for computer programming His interest in computer programming started at the age of 12 while observing his brother make simple computer games. During high school at Collège Saint André in Nyamirambo, he started playing with single-board computers like Raspberry Pi. Berwa recalls making an automatic bell system for the school, which thrilled him as it showed him how coding could solve problems. On completing high school, Berwa and his friend started a company dubbed, Tike. It was a mobile paperless event ticketing system, which he believes was one of the first in Rwanda. “This was an exciting time since we were using programming to create something novel and useful for people,” he says. Enrolling at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge opened the door for other opportunities, such as interning at Facebook, which was a dazzling experience for him. Berwa says that working at a company that operates on such a large scale enhanced his technological knowledge and showed him how powerful technology should be when it reaches a wider audience. Now, his focus has shifted towards blockchain technology, specifically smart contracts, as he is fascinated by how smart contracts can automate and secure transactions and agreements without intermediaries. “This is like fashioning trust through code, and I believe this has enormous potential to revolutionise industries, making processes more efficient and secure,” Berwa says. ALSO READ: Blockchain technology on the rise in Rwanda Benefits of blockchain-based technology to businesses Berwa is optimistic that blockchain technology will be revolutionary, for instance, it’s essentially a highly secure, transparent, and decentralised ledger. However, the feature he is most excited about is smart contracts. These are self-executing contracts where the terms of the agreement are written into code. They execute automatically when certain conditions are met. “For businesses, this means enhanced security, reduced costs as there’s less need for intermediaries, and improved efficiency and speed of transactions. Also, smart contracts are tamper-proof, which increases trust among parties. This can be instrumental in sectors like supply chain, finance, real estate, and many more,” Berwa says. ALSO READ: Blockchain technology tipped to boost healthcare delivery in Africa Employee to employer Berwa’s journey from being an employee to starting his own business has been both challenging and rewarding. He began as the first employee and a founding engineer at a venture-backed start-up called Vana, where “we were able to raise an astonishing $20 million in seed funding. Then, I joined Stacked Studios where we built Valhalla, a Non-Fungible Tokens (NFT) collection on Ethereum (ETH) that sold more than 25,000 ETH, which was approximately $50,000,000 at the time.” These experiences were priceless as they shaped his understanding of the industry. For him, it was the realisation of the untapped potential of smart contracts that steered the start of his company. He yearned to be at the forefront of enabling more people to engage with this technology. Bringing skills back home/way forward Although he is currently in the US, Berwa’s work is already making an impact in Rwanda and Africa. He is focused on building tools that can empower developers in Africa to craft applications that can make the continent more financially resilient. He says that once his tools have been put into production, his plan is to travel to major developer hubs in Africa to engage with and enlist developers onto the platform. Through Seal and his future endeavours, Berwa aims to contribute to Africa’s technological and economic growth, with Rwanda being a focal point. Additionally, through the experience and insight gained from Seal, he has been eyeing opportunities, especially the banking sector in Rwanda, by leveraging blockchain technology to create more efficient and secure financial services. Berwa is known online as robo360. He is a Rwandan who currently resides in Los Angeles, California, and a proud alumnus of Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science and Economics. He moved to the US in 2018, on a full scholarship at MIT. While there, his love for technology intensified.