Blockchain technology has great potential to deliver transformational change for children and their communities. Based on lessons learned three years on from our first selection of startups using the technology, UNICEF Venture Fund is going further to explore the use of the technology.
The Fund is committed to discovering and pushing the boundaries of frontier technologies, such as blockchain, especially in the tech sector of emerging markets where UNICEF operates.
In our latest call for applications, we invited companies using blockchain technology to explore solutions addressing problems across portfolio areas ranging from climate change, youth, learning and humanitarian interventions.
We received over 350 applications from 51 countries mostly from startups based in Africa (46%) and South Asia (18%). Nigeria, Kenya, and India produced the most applications.
The Fund received submissions across several categories.
A cohort of 4 start-ups were selected and each will receive up to $100K equity-free investments in USD and/or cryptocurrency through the UNICEF Venture Fund and UNICEF CryptoFund. They will also receive year-long mentorship from technical and programme experts in collaboration with Giga.
This new cohort will focus on solutions that improve accountability of service delivery and policies; grow and improve funding flows; and improve equity in access to connectivity and the digital world. The solutions have great potential to improve the lives of children and their communities.
UNICEF’s Venture Fund has been specifically designed to finance early stage, Open Source technology that can benefit children. The core motivation of the Venture Fund is to identify “clusters” or portfolios of initiatives around emerging technology - so that UNICEF can both shape markets and learn about and guide these technologies to benefit children. We invest in solutions clustered around $100 billion industries in frontier technology spaces, such as: blockchain, virtual and augmented reality, machine learning, and artificial intelligence.
The UNICEF CryptoFund is a pooled fund of bitcoin and ether. It is a part of UNICEF's Venture Fund, with the distinction that investments made through the CryptoFund are denominated in crypto. By sharing the public records of crypto transfers, the CryptoFund aspires to create visibility for the donor and the public, adding a layer of transparent accounting to the donation and investment processes. The CryptoFund is a prototype fund for UNICEF to explore the use of digital currencies, and what it means to operate in a digitally financed future.
Giga is a joint initiative launched by UNICEF and the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) in September 2019 to connect every school to the Internet and every young person to information, opportunity and choice. It uses schools as anchor points for their surrounding communities: if you connect schools, you can also connect local businesses and services. In particular, Giga leverages new technologies such as DS/AI and blockchain to improve efficiency and create a transparent system to deliver connectivity to schools.