When Genevieve Leveille received a message on LinkedIn regarding a World Bank project with the Haitian Ministry of Commerce and Industry, she immediately went to her team at AgriLedger with a crystal clear goal. “I told them ‘there is no way I’m going to let anybody get in front of me for my own country,’” Leveille recalls. “So I put together one of the best grant requests I’ve ever done and they didn’t know I was Haitian until I won the bid.”
The goal of the project was to use blockchain technology to help smallholder Haitian fruit farmers operate more efficiently, reduce waste, and become more profitable. “It all started with the idea of removing waste along the supply chain,” says Leveille. Typically, she says, the loss from farm to fork is approximately 40%, a shocking amount of waste that’s due to everything from bad storage to lack of access to markets. As a result, farmers overproduce because they know a significant amount of their yield will never make it to the consumer.
AgriLedger’s technology, says Leveille, tracks a mango, for example, from the time it’s picked to the moment a buyer pays for it at a supermarket. That information is conveyed to farmers via their mobile phones, and gives them the opportunity to participate in the entire supply chain rather than just selling their fruit to an intermediary. “If you can start showing the actual parts of the transaction, then you can get to a fairer distribution,” says Leveille. “That’s not to say that blockchain is the answer to the problem, but it is the open book that allows change to happen. It drives behavioral change.” At the end of the project, in July 2020, participating farmers had earned 7.5 times more revenue than before.
"[Blockchain] will allow small and medium enterprises, as we go more to the gig economy, to participate in a more trusted fashion."
Thanks to her work in a wide variety of industries - healthcare, finance, and entertainment - Leveille became convinced of the life-changing benefits of technology when uniquely applied in each context. At Sloan Kettering in the ‘90s, she worked in cancer research and helped implement a system that enabled the transmission of cell images across the workplace to enable real time cancer diagnosis. After a stint at MTV, where she set up a content management platform, Leveille moved into technology-related roles at Chase Manhattan, Hewlett Packard, General Electric, and Royal Bank of Scotland before landing at IdenTrust, a provider of digital certificates, in 2015.
“I had been working in identity management for all those years with all those companies,” recalls Leveille. “And on that first day at IdenTrust I learned about blockchain.” Her first project involved working with the cryptocurrency, Stellar, in Africa. “The idea was, how would you get young girls to use blockchain technology, not only for their needs, creating sustainability, but to get their parents also to understand the system,” says Leveille. From IdenTrust, she joined KrypC, a blockchain technology systems provider, as CEO but left after six months to start AgriLedger in 2016.
AgriLedger’s project with the Haitian Ministry of Finance and Industry officially ended last November but Leveille is taking her involvement with Haitian farmers to the next level with a newly formed entity that will create a fund to provide working capital to farmers. She is also launching a new project that will benefit smallholder farmers in Tanzania.
Leveille is a big believer that blockchain technology “will allow small and medium enterprises, as we go more to the gig economy, to participate in a more trusted fashion.” As a founding member of Cointelegraph Innovation Circle, and a part of a small but growing network of women in crypto, she plans to contribute content and connect with other members to have meaningful conversations about the future of women in blockchain. The technology, she says, is a stepping stone into a bigger picture that also includes artificial intelligence, identity, and machine learning.
“I was very flattered when I was asked to join Cointelegraph Innovation Circle,” she says. “It's about communicating the idea of blockchain more broadly. And [the brand] really looks at the industry and uses language that makes it much more accessible for people.”