UNICEF Innovation Fund Cohort: Blockchain

Welcoming 6 early stage blockchain projects

Chistina Lomazzo, Blockchain Lead, & Cecilia Chapiro, Investment adviser, UNICEF Innovation Fund
Blockchain image
UNICEF Office of Innovation

10 December 2018

It is our pleasure to announce that six blockchain start-ups, all from developing or emerging economies,  will receive seed funding from UNICEF’s Innovation Fund. To learn more about the companies and how this ties into UNICEF’s blockchain strategy, read on.

The UNICEF Innovation Fund is the first financial vehicle of its kind in the UN, which makes early-stage investments in portfolios of emerging technology. In early 2018, the Fund launched a call for proposals for blockchain start-ups and subsequently received the highest number of applications to date from 45 countries. The Fund sought to invest in companies building prototypes and systems for global problems such as transparency in health-care delivery, affordable access to mobile phone connectivity, and the ability to direct finances and resources to social-impact projects.

Atix Labs (Argentina), Onesmart (Mexico), Precrypto (Mexico), Statwig (India), W3 Engineers (Bangladesh) and Utopixar (Tunisia), are the blockchain start-ups that will be supported by the UNICEF Innovation team over the next twelve months.

Our Approach
 

The team started exploring blockchain in 2015, and since then learned, experimented and invested in the blockchain ecosystem in several ways. UNICEF Ventures explores blockchain both through investments, as well as through prototypes built-in house - this approach allows us to fail fast and learn often and gives us the ability to explore a wider variety of topics. The team also has a strong focus on bringing communities together to work on similar topics, to think differently about how to solve humanity’s greatest challenges.

The Fund envisions blockchain as having an impact in three major ways; new ways of mobilizing resources, creating better transparency in internal processes, and applications in UNICEF’s programme work in education, identity, healthcare and more.

Each company that the Fund has invested in, has the potential to help transform the way that UNICEF operates and/or delivers its programs. With our investments, we’ve found that having a cohort of companies who are working on the same technology creates a rich ecosystem for learning from successes (and failures) at a faster pace. Because the projects are all open source, this creates an opportunity for each team to leverage components from one another and help each other along. UNICEF Ventures then scales solutions by connecting companies and products to globally scalable platforms.

This is our first cohort in companies developing and piloting blockchain solutions. Read more below about what each company will work on.

The Companies
 

  • Atix Labs (Argentina) will develop a platform for small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to gain access to funding while creating traceability into where the funds are used and measure the impact.
     
  • Onesmart (Mexico) will address the misappropriation of funds in emerging markets with the scale of its prototype, which uses blockchain and AI  to increase transparency and accountability of government allocation of resources
     
  • Prescrypto (Mexico) will provide a digital solution to the lack of electronic prescriptions in developing countries with a platform that allows medical services providers to view one common history of a patient, and improve the level of care.
     
  • Statwig (India) will use blockchain solutions to ensure the efficient logistic delivery of vaccines through an enhanced supply-chain management system.
     
  • W3 Engineers (Bangladesh) works as a mobile connectivity platform. It allows users within the network to give connectivity access to other users directly between smartphones, instead of relying on internet and cell networks.
     
  • Utopixar (Tunisia) will deliver a social collaboration tool for communities and organisations to facilitate participative decision making and value transfer.

 


More detail here on the start-ups here.

Read more at www.unicef.org/innovation/blockchain
and www.unicefstories.org/unicefinnovationfund/