The next Alder Man in the series, Niall Dennehy! He is the COO and co-founder of AID:Tech, a platform which delivers humanitarian aid using blockchain technology. They aim to bring transparency to governments, NGO's and banks. We discuss the ambitions of AID:Tech in relation to the United Nation Sustainable Development Goals, the role of clothing in his professional life, as well as his personal career advice.
Hi Niall! Tell us a bit about what you do?
Hi! I am the co-founder of a company called AID:Tech. It was the first company back in 2015 to deliver humanitarian aid over blockchain technology, which is quite topical right now. That started in a refugee camp in Lebanon. Technically what we do is merge what we refer to as digital identity with payments and our value proposition is to bring traceability and transparency to the flow of those payments. The reason we created the company is because over 30% of international aid goes missing every year. You’ve heard of Fintech, Cleantech, Healthtech, Regtech... We are the first company to create aid tech, hence the name. We’re all about enabling people to own, control and monetise their own identity. There is roughly 2 billion people around the world with no form of legal identity, meaning they are excluded from things that you and I take for granted. If you haven't got any form of birth certificate, you don’t exist and the services then that are available to you are very minimal, if they exist at all.
Part of our brand values is to do things as responsibly as possible. How do you think about that in your own life and in AID:Tech?
We think about it a lot. From day one we wanted to have a business and a moral compass, so we have taken inspiration from the UN Sustainable Development Goals. They are 17 goals set by the United Nations. A big goal is target 16.9 of the SDG goals, which is everyone on the planet should have one form of legal identity by 2030. When we develop our product and think about the people that leverage our technology, that’s a core ambition. Another target is 10.C, which is to bring the cost of remittances below 3% by 2030. There are around 700 billion dollars remitted every year and the least developed countries pay the highest fees. If you're sending $100 back to a family member in Somalia, you may end up paying $20 out of that $100 in fees to middle men. Our ambition is to enable people to reduce the fees and that’s where identity and payments come together.
We also want to promote volunteerism around the world, so AID:Tech is working on a concept that we call Volunteer to Earn. Volunteers get a reward in the form of a token for their contribution, whilst letting them assemble their own ‘private data credit profile.’ This is in contrast to typical web2 data companies like Facebook and Google who typically take your data and commoditise it, so our model enables you to manage and monetise your own data.
My last example is our work in Africa to reduce infant mortality, which we have done in countries like Tanzania. We have digitised the prenatal and the postnatal journey. The tests that a woman should get in her pregnancy have been digitised and put on a blockchain ensuring the women get the correct treatment to deliver healthily.
When applying the technology, we use a carbon friendly approach, not what is referred to as very heavy 'proof of work' consensus model. The chains that we build the technology on are committed to carbon neutrality. We genuinely think about carbon neutrality and sustainability. We weave that into our values the same way it is woven into Alder and Green's shirts!
How do you think about clothing and style in your professional life in particular?
It’s a very important one for us. When it comes to trying to live and embody the values that we want to exhibit, how we dress reflects that whether we like it or not. We are very conscious of the brands we choose to work with. We aren't believers in fast fashion and when it comes to menswear, we put our best foot forward and always wear clothing that is professional and personable.
To wear a brand like Alder and Green is a natural fit for us. When it comes to style, we don’t overthink it too much given that we are a start-up. I'm not going to say that we wear shirts to the office every day, but professionalism is important when meeting clients. At events when wearing my Alder & Green shirt, I expose the neck to reveal the green trim as it is a conversation starter. I am always keen to promote that the shirt is sustainable, as well as being very well fitting.
What is the best piece of business advice or career advice you have ever received?
Good is the enemy of great. You shouldn’t accept good; you should strive for great. If you want to maintain high standards then something that is good enough shouldn’t be good enough. Also, to always be consumed with what you are doing. Obsession isn't always a bad thing but people who make it generally have an obsessive nature.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
Looking back, I would have delved into entrepreneurship earlier. I had a number of things I played with like busking, which is a form of entrepreneurship and a few micro businesses I started like a web design agency and a design consultancy. I think I would have gone all in earlier, whereas I treated them more as pet projects knowing there was something to fall back on. However perhaps in my mid-twenties I didn’t have the obsessive, determination that one would need.
We are delighted to be partnered with Niall and the AID:Tech team! We know the importance of dressing professionally and feeling your best, especially when it comes to representing your business.
We are here to build corporate partnerships and provide businesses with the perfect responsible shirts for your team.
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