UNICEF Innovation Fund Graduate: Atix Labs
An open source blockchain social impact funding platform that matches small to medium-sized enterprises to funders across the world.
The UNICEF Innovation Fund is proud to see portfolio member, Atix Labs graduate. They’ve come a long way – from numerous product iterations to deep diving into understanding their ecosystem better, strengthening their business model, and gearing up to take their solution to market. They’re now ready to collaborate at a wider scale – as they find new pathways to work with partners, funders, and the open source community.
Technology has allowed for quicker and more reliable remittance transfers and crowdsourcing efforts. Our team has learnt that although impact enterprises have different avenues to access capital, there remains a lack of transparency between the enterprises who receive funding and the funders who contribute to their financing.
Our team has developed a blockchain platform known as Circle of Angels - a social impact funding platform that matches small to medium-sized enterprises to funders across the world. Our platform allows impact enterprises to gain access to funding while creating traceability in where the funds are used all while measuring impact. Our aim is to foster accountability mechanisms and ensure consensus for these stakeholders.
We’ve found that the work done over the past year can be summed up beautifully in what Alina Siegfried says:
“It’s time we started designing technology with heart. Technology that is human-centric, takes a long term view, operates within a circular economy, and is well designed to do no harm.” - Alina Siegfried
We launched our minimum viable product online in May 2019. Together we worked with our partner RSK to help us develop our platform and smart contracts but also leverage their new decentralized storage service. Since then, we have worked with purpose led enterprises in medical technology, education and design space in ASEAN to enable their funding needs. Through the Circle of Angels platform, angel funders and social impact enterprises can network and collaborate, after connecting, each social impact enterprise receives a deployment from Angel funders of US$20K to $50K, to better track their impact and achieve greater clarity of what impact the teams are working towards.
Some of the companies we have worked with include...
- StratifiCare founded with the vision of empowering personalized medicine for tomorrow through its innovative diagnostic solutions. A world first, StratifiDen is proven in clinical studies to prioritize at-risk patients to save lives and reduce the Dengue hospitalization burden by 67% or up to 7.2 days. Read more about Stratificare’s media coverage here.
- Wedu champions affordable funding with future income sharing agreements in education. As part of Wedu’s Leadership Community, Future Income Sharing Agreements (FISAs) offer an affordable way to fund girl’s education that reduces the vicious cycle of poverty through access to education in emerging markets.
The prototyping process began with many user interviews with the funders and impact enterprises. We learnt from this that onboarding users with user guides served as an efficient way of introducing a person to the platform and how the system works, enabling ease of use.
We’ve also seen that through the impact reporting process, we have been able to leverage the RSK smart contracts to track the impact milestones that Wedu has delivered. Now that the data has been uploaded according to the milestones, we are able to log them on chain, making the data unchangeable, showing the individual commitments to the impact made by the enterprises.
Separately, listening to what our users have to say about the experience of working together has given us much encouragement in the process.
- “The Circles of Angels platform has allowed easy onboarding of projects, and funders to easily track online the progress of their funded projects. The team is always there to help during the platform onboarding process, and in supporting our project to ensure we succeed. It really gives the StratifiCare team great pleasure to be working alongside such passionate individuals, as we strive towards a more socially inclusive and sustainable world together.” - Anthony Chua, CEO Stratificare
- “It's been a pleasure working with the team. It has been a transparent process, a lot of mutual sharing, the team is willing to listen to feedback and the platform is easy to use. Looking forward to the next iteration and to see the platform being put to use across family foundations, impact funds and businesses.” - Jean Low, CEO 1880
Open Source Technology
Having experience in participating in other open software projects, this is the first open source project we developed from scratch. As a result, we had to organize internally so as to provide a well organized API, a full set of automated tests, a code of conduct and a guide for new developers who want to set up and collaborate with the project.
As we are releasing our platform as free software we took a considerable amount of time evaluating the right open source license to ensure the tools and frameworks we are releasing to the world will be used to enrich the ecosystem we aim to build.
Blockchain today is still a relatively new technology and there is an enormous gap between users and the understanding behind the concepts. It has been critical for us to understand how to provide value through this technology by building an easy user experience. Our initial focus was developing the algorithm behind the smart contracts to trace and track impact. We however realised very quickly that the greater priority was to ensure in our second version that the user experience was easy and user friendly.
With the small wins we have upon learning through the experience, one of the challenges we found - Is that not all enterprises were diligent through the impact tracking process, as it is a’time intensive process and impact entrepreneurs are often time scarce. We will need to improve our ask around making the process of impact monitoring, reporting simpler and less time consuming.
We are looking to work with more individuals and organisations who are keen on finding simpler, more effective ways of tracking the impact of the enterprises you work with. If you have attempted to track your impact and find that you would like a more methodological way of visualising the data, do get in touch! As stewards of capital and enablers of greater impact, we are looking to invite
1) Purpose led enterprises to come on board the platform to grow a new generation of impact driven, creative, humble and bold entrepreneurs.
2) Impact funders and impact companies to come on board the platform to deploy support, funding and to track impact leveraging technology for good.
About the UNICEF Innovation Fund:
UNICEF’s Innovation Fund invests up to $100k in early stage, open-source, emerging technology digital public goods with the potential to impact children on a global scale. It also provides product and technology assistance, support with business growth, access to a network of experts and partners to allow for scale and growth. The investments can go either to UNICEF Country Offices or to private sector companies in UNICEF programme countries.