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Bitcoin ‘is absolutely a tool for social justice,’ Guidefi founder explains

Author & Guidefi Founder Charlene Fadirepo joins Yahoo Finance Live's "A Time For Change" to discuss bitcoin's vital role in communities of color, women's presence in the larger cryptocurrency culture, and promoting financial wellness practices for better wealth distribution.

Video Transcript


- Welcome back to a Time for Change. Here's an interesting, even shocking, fact. According to a recent Harris Poll, nearly one in five Black American adults owns cryptocurrency. That's right. Nearly one in five. And for many, crypto presents a promising way to build wealth and finally get a leg up on a system they felt shortchanged by in the past. Our next guest has worked both sides of the aisle. First, as a banker and government regulator, and now as a Bitcoin consultant and founder of Guidefi, a fintech platform for women and people of color.

Charlene Fadirepo, thank you so much for joining us today. And just to jump right into things, I listed all of the jobs you currently have and previously had. But you're also an author of children's book and one of the writers of the "Bitcoin and the American Dream." So let's focus on that one for a moment. How do you see Bitcoin and crypto as a tool for social justice?

CHARLENE FADIREPO: Absolutely. Well, thank you for the opportunity to be here with you here, Marquise. Bitcoin is absolutely a tool for social justice. If you think about Black Americans, we believe that Bitcoin allows Black Americans to build generational wealth. But not just Black Americans. Black Americans, Latino Americans, the LGBT community, and Indigenous communities. It allows the ability to build wealth. And these are communities that have traditionally been left out of the discriminatory banking system that we have today.

- And last year, you said 2021 was a breakout year for Bitcoin because major banks were investing in it and corporations were buying in. So I'm curious, given the volatility in 2022 thus far, do you still have faith in the future of crypto and Bitcoin?

CHARLENE FADIREPO: Absolutely. Absolutely. So I think that whenever I get that question, I ask people to think about the big picture. And the big picture is so bright for Bitcoin. If you look at Bitcoin in a 10-year basis, they had annualized returns of nearly 200%. And if you look at Bitcoin in the past two years-- so this pandemic era-- Bitcoin had returns of roughly 400%. And in that same period, you saw gold had a return of roughly 15%. And the S&P delivered 42%. So those are amazing returns for any kind of asset class, and incredible returns for Bitcoin.

And then in terms of looking forward, what we expect to see this year, 2021, is regulatory clarity. 2020, this past year, was an incredible year for regulators to start thinking about Bitcoin. You saw the FDIC and the Fed work together for inter-agency guidance. And we expect to see more and more movement and more and more regulatory clarity. And as we know, when regulatory clarity is here, that builds trust, that builds security, and that will encourage more people to invest and, hopefully, more institutions to invest.

- And I'm curious. As a Bitcoin consultant, is there a piece of advice that you find yourself repeating over and over to clients?

CHARLENE FADIREPO: Absolutely. So I think Bitcoin is a different financial system, right. It encourages people to be their own bank, which encourages you to have a level of financial responsibility. So you have to consider self custody to protect your Bitcoin. You have to be intentional about how you're transferring your Bitcoin. There are all of these skills that you need to learn if you want to be an avid crypto investor.

- And, obviously, as someone experienced in the world of finance, you still couldn't find an ideal financial advisor for your family a couple of years ago. It's a big reason why you started and created Guidefi. So tell me a little bit more about the app and the full inspiration behind it.

CHARLENE FADIREPO: Absolutely. So Guidefi's a company. We're a fintech platform. We connect Black women with financial advisors and financial coaches. And I started the company out of necessity. Like Marquise pointed out, I had a really hard time finding a financial advisor for my family. And when I asked my friends, I recognized that they were not using financial advisors because they had a hard time as well. And so we wanted to create this platform to make it easier for Black women and other women of color to find access to financial planning, financial coaching, and other financial education sources.

- And I'd love for you to expand. I love the fact that focusing specifically on women of color. Why was this so intentional for you?

CHARLENE FADIREPO: Well, when women of color are the fastest growing group of entrepreneurs in the country. And also, it was the group or the community that I was most familiar with. We're so, so focused on taking women from financial health to financial Wellness to, hopefully, financial independence. And going back to Bitcoin, we believe Bitcoin and investing in Bitcoin is going to be a huge part of that story for the average Black woman and the average woman of color.

- And I'm curious. Given your background in more of a traditional space, I'm curious, what are some of the things you've heard from critics that maybe say you're wrong? What are some of those misnomers?

CHARLENE FADIREPO: You know what, there's so much FUD in the crypto and Bitcoin space. Fear, uncertainty, and doubt. There are a lot of people that talk about-- they say that Bitcoin is not truly decentralized. They say that it's an asset bubble. But Marquise, what we find is that most people haven't taken the time to really understand the origins of Bitcoin as an asset class and look at the return profile. I mean, you cannot be a 400% two-year return profile in any asset class.

And that's why it was so important for us to write "Bitcoin and the American Dream" and also my children's book, "Sade's Satoshis." We believe there's a huge gap in information knowledge. And one of the things that's really important about the "Bitcoin and the American Dream" book is that the audience of that book is very different. It is actually targeted for elected leaders, for lawmakers, and community organizers. We really wanted to make sure that there was a body of knowledge for that community to make good decisions.

And for "Sade's Satoshis," I've written "Sade's Satoshis" because I'm trying to empower Bitcoin families. I want families and parents to be able to teach Bitcoin to their children because Bitcoin is a tool to fix many of the monetary problems that we have in this world.

- Appreciate that. I'm still a little bit stuck on FUD. Fear, uncertainty, and doubt. I think my next-- Yeah. My next conversation with my girlfriend, I think I'm going to bring that up. What are your FUDs? So one of the things I wanted to bring up, I read in a Medium article from a couple of years ago you wrote about the both exhilarating and terrifying 30 days since you left working for the Federal Reserve. Obviously, this was in 2019 before the pandemic started. But I'm curious. What has the last two years been like? And what would you tell others about taking that leap of faith that you took?

CHARLENE FADIREPO: I love this question. It has been an exhilarating and fantastic ride. I think the journey of an entrepreneur is a journey that's not for everybody. But it is an amazing journey. And for me, it was one of the best career decisions I could have made. I encourage anyone thinking about entrepreneurship to lean into that thinking. I think walking in your purpose and your passion is something that's amazing.

I think that if you are a person of color and you're thinking about entrepreneurship, just know that you have the ability to see problems that others can't see, and you can solve those problems. And we need those great ideas to make this world a better place. So I think it's so, so important. I'm excited that I get a chance to do this every day for my work. I love being able to support the financial lives and dreams of women. I love to be able to pour into and empower Black women.

This is an amazing time for this brand new financial system. And I'm excited that more people of color, and more Black people, more of the LGBT community, and more people from Indigenous communities are interested in investing in Bitcoin. I truly believe Bitcoin is the future of finance. It's the future of money. And everybody needs to get on board so we can push early adoption the way it needs to be so that these communities can avoid the pitfalls and the barriers of our current financial system.

- You're excited. I'm excited too. Charlene Fadirepo, thank you so much for joining us today.