Supporting Public Goods in a Digital World

UNICEF announces 8 investments from its CryptoFund and opens call for applications for blockchain companies

Cecilia Chapiro, Investment & Blockchain Portfolio Adviser & Christina Lomazzo, Blockchain Lead
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UNICEF Innovation
16 June 2020

UNICEF Innovation has been making investments in open-source startups through its Venture Fund for over four years, with the goal of supporting the creation of digital public goods that can make the world a better place. UNICEF has continued to explore innovative methods to support founders, including launching a cryptocurrency denominated fund in October 2019.  

Today, UNICEF announced that eight more investments have been made through UNICEF’s CryptoFund, and that applications are open for blockchain companies to apply for USD and crypto funding through its Venture Fund.  

Since launching our CryptoFund in October 2019, the first cryptocurrency-denominated fund within the UN, we have continued to look for ways to build on our learnings and scale our efforts. With this new round of funding for eight startups, we are increasing our investment amount and widening the type of companies we are investing in. This is all in effort to continue to learn about digital currencies and how UNICEF can be more transparent and efficient in its processes. At the same time, we’re happy to announce that for the first time, our Venture Fund and CryptoFund will be offering a combined opportunity to apply for blended USD and crypto funding.  

Building Tools to Operate in a Digitally Financed World 

The CryptoFund is part of UNICEF’s efforts to explore what it means to operate in a digitally financed world.  We have several projects that are supporting the organisation with understanding where blockchain and cryptocurrency can support redistributing resources, make the organisation more efficient and transparent and encouraging the creation of digital public goods. Specifically for the CryptoFund, we’re building a set of tools to make it easier for the public to track investments made, and also internal tools to make us more efficient with our processes. 

Investing in Public Goods 

UNICEF believes that frontier technologies can help serve those most in need. As we deal with a global pandemic, we decided to make new investments across emerging markets on solutions that are adapting for the new realities of operating during COVID-19. 

Eight startups, who had previously received fiat funding from the UNICEF Venture Fund, are receiving 125 ETH of crypto funding each. These startups are working on a variety of open-source solutions, using emerging technology such as data science (machine learning and artificial intelligence), augmented reality and virtual reality, and blockchain. They will be building new components for their platforms, or piloting with new groups.   

Companies who have received investments include:   

  • Afinidata (Guatemala): AI powered personalised early childhood development tutor for pregnant women. Read more about UNICEF’s Venture Fund investment here.  
  • Avyantra (India): App, leveraging data science, to help frontline health workers in the early diagnosis of neonatal sepsis. Read more about UNICEF’s Venture Fund investment here.
  • Cireha (Argentina): App for children with speech impairments to communicate using symbols. Read more about UNICEF’s Venture Fund investment here
  • Ideasis (Turkey): WebVR tool to treat anxiety disorders through exposure therapy. Read more about UNICEF’s Venture Fund investment here
  • OS City (Mexico): Issuing blockchain-based government assets, heading towards issuing 1,000 blockchain IDs to allocate children’s educational diplomas. Read more about UNICEF’s Venture Fund investment here
  • Somleng (Cambodia): A low-cost Interactive Voice Response platform that the Cambodian government is using to send key information about COVID-19. Read more about UNICEF’s Venture Fund investment here.
  • StaTwig (India): Blockchain-based supply-chain tracking platform, partnering with the Indian government to track the delivery of rice from the government in low income areas. Read more about UNICEF’s Venture Fund investment here.
  • Utopic (Chile): WebVR games to assess, track and help improve children’s reading skills. Read more about UNICEF’s Venture Fund investment here.

Offering New Opportunities to Startups 

The UNICEF Innovation Fund is looking to make up to $100K equity-free investments (in USD and/or cryptocurrency) to provide early stage (seed) financing and mentoring to for-profit technology startups that have the potential to benefit humanity.  Applicants have the opportunity to receive a portion of funding in cryptocurrency (bitcoin or ether). Given the current global climate and a dramatic shift to a digital world as a result of COVID-19, open-source solutions that address critical needs for society are as important as ever. 

If you have a start-up registered in one of UNICEF’s programme countries and have a working, open source blockchain prototype (or you are willing to make it open-source) showing promising results, consider submitting an application here(deadline July 26, 2020). 

Building our Collaborations with the Blockchain Community 

We appreciate the expertise and support of donors and knowledge experts in helping UNICEF and its investments companies move its projects forward. If you’re interested in donating to the CryptoFund or connecting with the startups for any follow-on opportunities, please feel free to reach out to