The United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) is funding research on blockchain projects. The organization will be investing $100,000 in blockchain startups to develop solutions to global challenges like transparency in health-care delivery, affordable access to mobile phone connectivity, the ability to direct finances and resources to social-impact projects using blockchain technology.
— UNICEF Innovation (@UNICEFinnovate) December 10, 2018
Selected from more than 100 applications across 50 countries, the six recipients are; Atix Labs (Argentina) and Onesmart (Mexico), both of which are developing platforms for tracking finance management. Prescrypto (Mexico), which is building a platform to track patient histories. Statwig (India), which is working to ensure efficient vaccine delivery with a supply chain platform. Utopixar (Tunisia), which is working on a social collaboration tool for decision making. And W3 Engineers (Bangladesh), which is looking to develop an offline mobile platform that does not require internet access.
The startups join 20 other tech companies currently under management of the organisation’s $17.9 million venture fund in fields from data science and machine learning, to virtual reality, to drones. They are expected to deliver open-source prototypes of their blockchain applications within 12-months.
“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,” said Chris Fabian, Principal Adviser, UNICEF Innovation. “That’s exactly the stage when UNICEF Innovation Fund invests: when our financing, technical support, and focus on vulnerable populations can help a technology grow and mature in the most fair and equitable way possible.”
According to UNICEF, the new investments will form part of its broader Blockchain strategy which the organisation believes could one day lead to the organization itself integrating aspects of the tech to change how it operates. And while Blockchain is not new to UNICEF (it had made an investment in an identity-focused startup two years ago), these strings of investments comprise the fund’s first early-stage cohort of blockchain companies.
These investments are part of UNICEF’s larger blockchain explorations of using smart-contracts for organizational efficiencies, creating distributed decision-making processes, and working to build knowledge and understanding of distributed ledger technology both in the United Nations and in the countries where UNICEF works.
In addition to the funding, UNICEF will provide assistance with the products and technology, as well as share access to its network of partners. Should they be successful, UNICEF will also scale these products in the more than 190 countries and territories where it operates.
Get the best of Africa’s daily tech to your inbox – first thing every morning.
Join the community now!