The recently established UNICEF Innovation Fund under the auspices of the parent charity funded six blockchain startup projects in the emerging markets to tackle real-world problems. The pooled fund has been designed to specifically finance open source & early stage projects in emerging technologies, which would enable UNICEF to learn these new technologies eventually shaping markets for the benefit of the children as per the charter of the UN’s Children Emergency Fund.
According to a Press release last month, the innovation fund will invest $100,000 – Six companies were chosen from a pool of 100 applications across 50 countries. The selected companies will be delivering an open source prototype of the blockchain applications within 12 months. The six chosen companies have joined 20 other technology startups from different areas of science including Machine Learning, Data Science to Virtual Reality & Drones being managed by the Fund. Chris Fabian, Principal Adviser to UNICEF Innovation echoed these sentiments about the DLT:
“Blockchain technology is still at an early stage — and there is a great deal of experimentation, failure, and learning ahead of us as we see how, and where, we can use this technology to create a better world.”
Here’s a Portfolio snapshot of the fund before we move on to take a look at the six projects.
Atix Labs – This blockchain startup from Argentina designs & develops solutions based on Bitcoin, Ethereum Classic, Cardano & tokkenit platforms. It will be developing a funding platform for SME’s (small & medium-sized enterprises) with a transparent traceability of the funds’ usage and their impact.
Onesmart – This Mexico-based Smart city platform provides sustainable solutions for the future. Their project will address the issue of misappropriation & corruption of government funds in emerging markets. The prototype will ensure the transparent distribution of the government issued social services to children.
Prescrypto – Another Mexican startup whose flagship app can create, send & track electronic prescriptions for Doctors, Clinics & Pharmacies alike. They will be devising a tailor-made solution for developing countries to provide a standardized medical platform for improving efficiency, safety & reliability of the care provided.
Statwig – Based in India, this IoT startup incubated at T-Hub, India’s largest incubator for start-ups specializes in supply chain management systems. For this project they will be devising a blockchain based supply chain solution for the efficient delivery of vaccines to the children. The company will be using both the technologies to increase the visibility, monitoring and tracking of products.
Utopixar – The Tunisian company has devised an open-sourced community platform called Coinsence.org for a purpose-driven economy & connected society. The platform offers various value creation tools which are ideal for organizations which cherish the norms of collaboration, accountability & shared resources. The tool will be used to create sustainable & growing economies.
W3 Engineers – Bangladesh-based technology company offers wide variety of services including application development leveraging the DLT. They will be devising an offline mobile networking solution for refugee & migrant communities – which would neither require an internet connection or a SIM card.
These investments are part of a larger initiative on part of the charity to implement the emerging technology for real-world use cases to help the children in need. UNICEF further intends to:
❶ Use smart contracts to improve its own organizational efficiencies
❷ Streamlining the decision-making processes by decentralizing
❸ Build a knowledge base of the blockchain technology in U.N & in more than 190 countries where the charity operates
This is not the first time that we are seeing the global kids charity stepping into the Blockchain arena. Back in April 2018, UNICEF Australia had announced an initiative whereby users can use the processing power of their computer to mine cryptocurrencies & give it to the charity. Before that in February 2018, UNICEF initiated a charity drive for Syrian children, asking the PC gamers to mine the Cryptocurrency Ethereum to be donated, giving children access to clean water, health & education. Interest by reputable International bodies like the UNICEF to not only explore the blockchain technology but to find viable solutions to real world problems would go a long way in the adoption of DLT & silence the critics who proclaim there are minimal use cases of the emerging tech.