Tue | Sep 28, 2021

Digitally driven

Jamaica Bobsled hopes to raise US$2 million through financial technology, NFTs

Published:Wednesday | April 7, 2021 | 12:14 AMDaniel Wheeler/Staff Reporter
The JAM-1 sled from Jamaica takes a turn during a training run for the men’s two-man bobsled at the 2014 Winter Olympics in February 2014 in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia.
The JAM-1 sled from Jamaica takes a turn during a training run for the men’s two-man bobsled at the 2014 Winter Olympics in February 2014 in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia.

Jamaica Bobsleigh and Skeleton Federation President Nelson Christopher Stokes outlined that the organisation is looking to raise US$2 million (J$291 million) for their 2022 Winter Olympics campaign by tapping into the world of financial technology...

Jamaica Bobsleigh and Skeleton Federation President Nelson Christopher Stokes outlined that the organisation is looking to raise US$2 million (J$291 million) for their 2022 Winter Olympics campaign by tapping into the world of financial technology.

His comments come as the federation is in the midst of preparations for a fundraising project that will incorporate local visual and music artists, creating digital artwork for sale as non-fungible tokens (NFTs). NFTs can be defined as a unit of data stored on a blockchain (digital ledger) that represents a unique digital item. These items can be bought using cryptocurrency, or digital currency.

While the concept is still relatively new, Stokes said that he was sold on the project during a conversation with entrepreneur Rohan Midha, who came with the idea to raise funds using financial technology.

“We engaged Rohan to think about how we (can) raise funds in a digital world, and he came to me with this idea, which I accepted readily because I work in the financial technology space. I understand cryptocurrency, I use cryptocurrency, so it was an easy sell,” Stokes told The Gleaner. “And then once you start talking about the fact that no one has done it before and the social side of it, helping artists and helping other sports, it was an easy conversation in terms of the purpose of it.”

That purpose, according to Stokes, is not only to primarily fund the national team’s campaign towards the 2022 Games, which are scheduled for Beijing, China, but also to support other non-traditional sports in the island, as well as other projects to help challenged youth in the country.

3D DESIGNS

The first of what is known as ‘NFT Drops’ are slated to begin this summer, and will consist of 3D bobsleigh designs, which will be used by the team in their qualification campaigns.

Midha says that it was important for the federation to move into the digital space to meet the demand of the current environment.

“Essentially, we are much ahead of the curve by jumping into the world of NFTs, because this is an area that has only just been noticed by many millions of people,” Midha said. “Being the first movers is a huge thing and it would (give) the Jamaica bobsleigh team a huge advantage if we execute this project correctly.”

While he says they are embarking in uncharted fundraising territory locally, Stokes says that he hopes their venture will be the catalyst for how other local sporting federations raise funds for their initiatives.

“We want to transfer the approach, the methodology, the technology and also the way of thinking about fundraising,” Stokes said “As a sports brand, Jamaica bobsled is a globally recognised sports brand and that puts us in a position to monetise that through NFTs and retain the majority of the benefits and it is incredibly empowering. We want to do it, show that it can be done, encourage others to do it, and help others to do it.”

The project has the support of Sport Minister Olivia Grange, who commended the federation in taking such an innovative approach.

“The Jamaica Bobsleigh and Skeleton Federation continues to be trailblazers on and off the ice,” Grange said.

“Their pioneering fundraising work in the digital space through NFTs will not only help raise funds for the team, but will give exposure to Jamaican digital and musical artists, and ultimately support other non-traditional sports in Jamaica, and contribute to crime-reduction initiatives through youth engagement in vulnerable communities,” Grange added.

daniel.wheeler@gleanerjm.com