UNICEF Innovation Fund Graduate: OS City

Open source digital certification solutions using Blockchain to increase transparency, preserve data integrity and accelerate the use of portable records in the public sector and informal economy.

Jesús Cepeda , CEO, OS City
Mother setting up food for her children in Guatemala
30 March 2020

The UNICEF Innovation Fund is proud to see portfolio member, OS City, 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 larger scale – as they find new pathways to work with partners, investors, and the open source community. 

Over the past twelve months, OS City has built a platform that enables anyone to write into a desired blockchain, tapping into unprecedented possibilities of tamper-proof and portable records.

Our platform enables users to create a certificate template and then issue their own digital certificates, to achieve this, users can pick from 5 blockchains including bitcoin, ethereum, ethereum classic, RSK, and BFA (Federal Argentinian Blockchain).

Our platform enables users to create a template and then issue a blockchain certificate without the need for technical knowledge on blockchain
OS City
Our platform enables users to create a template and then issue a blockchain certificate without the need for technical knowledge on blockchain
Sample certificates for artisans fair trade, assuring quality and origin of wine derivative products, and certified college skills.
Os City
Sample certificates for artisans fair trade, assuring quality and origin of wine derivative products, and certified college skills.

Our approach to prototyping during the last twelve months was geared towards implementing as many and diverse use cases as possible. 

Our pilots ranged from the issuance of university diplomas, wine derivatives, and artisan origin assurance, to government licenses and international commitments towards sustainability. To read more on this please visit https://blockchain.os.city.

We’re focusing our impact in Latin America, in countries such as Mexico, Argentina, Chile, Brazil and Colombia. In terms of industries, we believe our solution will have a bigger impact on the public sector and  the global artisan industries. These sectors compliment blockchain’s foundational attributes such as data integrity, transparency, disintermediation and immutability. 

According to the ILO, 55.7% of youth in Latin America and the Caribbean are informally employed, this poses a challenge to ensuring that this demographic can be integrated into the formal economy.  At OS City we have focused on artisanal industries, to co-create an ecosystem of fairness, sustainability and trust for the artisan industries in developing countries. We also tapped into the  Blockchain development community, specifically from Ethereum Classic Labs (ETC) Labs which has expanded our geographic and technical advantages that allow us to increase our technological offering and impact.

Open Source Technology 

Open Sourcing is internally helpful to commit to develop good coding and documentation practices. Nevertheless, during a year of prototyping and development, it is challenging to focus on creating a community of contributors. We however expect to attract developers to join the impact opportunities. 

Our diverse sets of use cases and implementations have allowed us to develop several pathways for making this a sustainable business

To date, our biggest achievement has been to reach clarity in a business model for institutions (universities, governments, organizations), and  for the artisanal industry. Both businesses practices have their own teams at OS City , with separate strategies to keep the growth consistent in 2020. 


In our public sector focus we have explored  use cases around anti-corruption and transparency in local governments, however bureaucracy has made it challenging to consolidate in twelve months.

This is why we pivoted to still  be able to demonstrate potential and impact, even though we ended with very different experiences as we initially proposed. Originally, we proposed 3 government experiences including to upgrade our previous pilots for subsidies delivery certification, work along with a national government for food, medicines and water traceability, and issuing construction permits on blockchain.

Even though there are still ongoing conversations and possibilities to implement those projects, we pivoted to consolidate the 12 months with real blockchain experiences including issuing university diplomas, college skills, government commercial permits, sustainability commitments (with the Observatory for Sustainable Development in La Rabida, Spain), wine derivatives quality and origin, and artisans fair trade and origin validation.

What’s next? 

UNICEF has been key to our deployments and gaining trust with our customers. We hope to keep this collaboration moving forward. Additionally, partnering with ETC Labs has been key to enhance our credibility on a technological perspective. And finally, working closely with the organization of the American States and artisan brands such as Folklor.co, has helped us to be able to implement technology and deliver the value we are proposing. 

We hope to reach the point where institutions get used to blockchain as a defacto approach to trustworthy records. Gaining this trust is essential to tap into deeper value that can be added using the blockchain such as digital identities, where we believe is our next step.

Working with the UNICEF Innovation Fund

In 2019, OS City received 13 international awards and recognitions and at least 11 had something to do with our collaboration with the UNICEF Innovation Fund. Nearly a year later, our gratitude is hard to describe, since UNICEF Innovation has become a key collaborator for OS City to walk its purpose to bring trust and efficiency to every government, helping us to cultivate the next generation of smart cities in Latin-American countries.


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.