Exploring blockchain applications to accelerate impact

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UNICEF Office of Innovation

Blockchain technologies are introducing new systems of trust and exchange on which users can send value directly from one party to another without the need for intermediaries. 

Blockchain systems have no central points of control, are powered by the internet, and are governed by computer code normally referred to as smart contracts. Digital currencies (e.g bitcoin) are famous applications of blockchain technologies, nevertheless, these technologies have promises that go beyond currencies or financial transactions. 

UNICEF Ventures explores these technologies, with the potential to impact children and young people globally, providing them with information, opportunity, and choice. The team sees blockchain technology as having benefits in 3 main ways: 1) strengthening resources through innovative financing models; 2) increasing the efficiency and transparency of internal processes, and; 3) incentivizing and encouraging the creation of open-source digital public goods. The approach to achieving this is by researching and prototyping with both internal and external stakeholders. 

To understand the technical, social, ethical, and legal challenges of utilizing blockchain technologies in our complex and interconnected world — the team is exploring this space with open eyes on practical experimentations of cryptocurrencies, smart contracts, and various types of tokens, as well as by supporting learning and training initiatives to build capacity. 

Martin Romero

We’re working on integrating blockchain technology and supporting programmatic applications in several areas. 

UNICEF Venture Fund

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UNICEF will now be able to receive, hold and disburse donations of cryptocurrencies ether and bitcoin, through its newly-established UNICEF Cryptocurrency Fund. In a first for United Nations organizations, UNICEF will use cryptocurrencies to fund open source technology benefiting children and young people around the world. Learn more here. 

Through the Venture Fund, UNICEF Ventures has been investing in blockchain startups since 2016. Learn more about our current cohort of companies here

Project Connect

Project Connect is an initiative that aims to map every school in the world. The goal is to provide real-time data assessing the quality of each school’s internet connectivity, eventually creating an observable metric of society’s progress towards enabling access to information and opportunity for every community. See the live map here. 

With blockchain, Project Connect can provide users visibility into how donations are being used to connect schools around the world, what speed of internet each of the connected schools has, and managing the contracts between a region of schools and an internet service provider. See how blockchain could play a role here



SURGE is an immersive series of events that invites young people to learn new skills, while at the same time exploring where blockchain could play a role in addressing global challenges. UNICEF Ventures has hosted SURGE events around the world, from South Africa to Thailand and beyond.  

UNICEF Ventures also participates in collaborative cross UN agency initiatives & projects, such as the United Nations Innovation Network (UNIN),with the aim of collectively experimenting and sharing learnings around blockchain. Learn more here


Context shot of someone writing on a big piece of paper

UNICEF Ventures is working on a variety of blockchain prototypes. In Kazakhstan, the team is exploring the technology can be used to facilitate payments between UNICEF and its partners. 

Learn more about our newest interagency blockchain project, The Atrium, here

UNICEF Ventures is leveraging a public blockchain, Ethereum, to make claims in a transparent and immutable way. In the first phase of the prototype, certificates were issued confirming the participation of organizations who tested in our drone corridors. Learn more here

Contact us

Please reach out to blockchain [at] unicef [dot] org