Visiting Bitcoin Ekasi

Last weekend, one of our reporters in the South African coastal town of Mossel Bay visited the Bitcoin Ekasi project. This initiative, inspired by Bitcoin Beach in El Salvador, aims to help the youth of the local township by creating a circular Bitcoin economy. This article is a personal account of this visit

The Bitcoin Ekasi project, started in 2021, is an extension of the non-profit organization The Surfer Kids. Hermann Vivier, the initiator of both projects, started a decade ago with his wife, giving free surfing lessons to children from the local township. In the meantime, the NPO has grown and 5 surf coaches and 2 coast guards work there to teach the kids from the township the art of surfing.

By helping various shops in the township accept Bitcoin and paying employees’ salaries in full in Bitcoin, the circular Bitcoin economy was started on a small scale about a year ago.

My visit starts at the headquarters of the NPO The Surfer Kids. Hermann says he started the project ten years ago with his wife in their spare time. Meanwhile, with the help of five surf coaches, the charitable organization provides daily surfing lessons to about 40 children from the township. These children are also part of the Bitcoin Ekasi project.


The Bitcoin Ekasi project started after Hermann explained the basics of Bitcoin to the surf coaches and convinced them to receive their salaries in this digital form of money.

Soon after, the coaches and Hermann began to persuade and help the township shops to accept bitcoin as a form of payment. A crucial point to start the circular bitcoin economy. Currently, about ten different shops, hairdressers and even a car wash accept the digital currency.

Education is the foundation of this project, explains Hermann. Most of the township residents are uneducated and don’t have a bank account, let alone ever heard of Bitcoin.

The project currently helps about 40 children. In addition to surfing lessons, the children are trained by a qualified teacher. In the new Bitcoin Ekasi Center, the children receive extra training. Subjects such as math, English and Bitcoin are discussed. The building is centrally located in the township and was recently opened with the help of trading platform Paxful and the organization Built With Bitcoin.

Surf coaches

During my visit it quickly became clear to me that the surf coaches are of enormous importance to the project. It was great to see how interested the coaches were in Bitcoin. Senior Surf Coach Luthando proudly showed me his own Bitcoinnode. He explained that he got help from Satoshi Radio’s ‘Ring of Fire’ group chat on Telegram. A small world, it turns out.??

In addition to Luthando, there are 4 other coaches who provide surfing lessons and food for the kids, among other things. The coaches are really the driving force behind this initiative. Allen enthusiastically told me about their experiences with Bitcoin, who they find most interesting on twitter and the publicity that the Bitcoin Ekasi project had not already received on the internet.

Bitcoin has provided an opportunity for me to save money in an easy and safe way. I have total control over my money, nobody else. My keys, my coins Senior surf coach Luthando

Bitcoin rewards

Sunday is always an exciting day for the kids in the township. Depending on behavior and effort, the children receive a reward (30Rand/???????1.80) in bitcoin. Each child has their own wallet on a phone that is kept by the surf coaches during the week for security reasons. On Sundays when the rewards are handed out, the children are given the opportunity to spend the satoshis they have earned in the local shops or to save up.

It was interesting to see different choices being made. Most of the young children (6-10) were simply overjoyed to be able to buy a bag of chips and a can of soda. While the somewhat older (10-14) bought children or nutritious products or actually saved their satoshis for later.


Partly thanks to the enthusiastic kids who can suddenly pay for groceries with a telephone, a striking car full of Bitcoin stickers, the Bitcoin logos and posters on the sides of houses, containers and the Bitcoin Ekasi Center, you can say that villagers are becoming increasingly curious about this initiative.

Despite the fact that many residents do not have a bank account, valid identity or smartphone, the inhabitants of the township can still use Bitcoin thanks to the Machankura innovation. Machankura is a new service that makes it possible to receive and send bitcoin via SMS. As a result, you do not necessarily need a smartphone to participate in the Bitcoin network.

The future

So far, the Bitcoin Ekasi is still a small-scale, but very cool project. Hermann and the surf coaches’ plans are mainly about retraining the youth in the township. ?«£Once the kids understand the value and possibilities of Bitcoin, the rest will follow ,?«• explains Hermann.

Bitcoin is still far from perfect in the township, but even now it offers a worthy alternative to the current money system.

For now, it’s a small project. But all big things start small. Bitcoin Ekasi

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