UNICEF, the United Nations Children’s Fund, has announced funding for Blockchain-based startups through the UNICEF Innovation Fund. The organization is making available seed funding, ranging from $50,000 to $90,000, for startups with the capacity for positive global impact.
The tender states-
“We are interested in companies that use distributed ledger tech in new, groundbreaking, ways that are scalable, and globally applicable.”
The UNICEF innovation fund is a newly developed program created to finance early stage open-source technology that may benefit children by identifying promising emerging technology and creating portfolios around them. The purpose is to guide these technologies in a way that benefits children, with an emphasis on the world’s most vulnerable. The fund employs a venture capital approach to create strategies and solutions for “emergency and epidemic response, transport & delivery, identity, finance, learning, personal data and related fields.”
A New Frontier in International Development
This is not the first time that UNICEF Innovation Fund has dabbled in blockchain technology to solve some of the most fundamental problems of its global development goals. Namely, project accountability and efficiency.
A number of projects have already been funded through the innovation fund to tackle these issues.
Accountability: A significant amount of funding for development projects is withheld due to a real or perceived lack of accountability. The Ixo Foundation, with funding from the Innovation fund, has created a “proof of impact” protocol using blockchain technology. This protocol assures project leaders, funders, and other stakeholders that promised goals and claims of impact are attained as they are recorded on a distributed ledger.
Efficiency: UNICEF and Ixo have also partnered to develop Amply, a blockchain-based system designed to increase impact and accountability of public services. This digital identity protocol privately creates and safely stores a child’s self-sovereign digital identity, assuring they are receiving the public benefits they are entitled to over their lifetime. The system also generates real-time data that is useful in determining how and where to deliver public services most efficiently.
Similarly, UNICEF has recently created a system for a Smart Contract based on the Ethereum network. The project is aimed at improving transparency, efficiency, and accountability in executing contracts without the need of a middleman and lowering the “cost of trust.” A service much needed in developing areas.
Anyone with a relevant start-up registered in one of UNICEF’S program countries with a functional, open-source prototype is encouraged to apply.
The deadline is February 28.
Featured image from Shutterstock.