UNICEF and Giga Funding Opportunity
UNICEF Venture Fund and Giga Call for Blockchain-based Software Solutions to Build Capacity and Empower Communities
The UNICEF Venture Fund, in collaboration with Giga, is looking to make up to $100K equity-free investments (in cryptocurrency) to provide early stage (seed) financing and mentoring to for-profit technology startups that have the potential to benefit humanity.
Applicants will receive funding in cryptocurrency (bitcoin or ether) through our recently launched CryptoFund. 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, we are looking for you.
- Check eligibility criteria
- Read the full Request for Expressions of Interest (REOI) document
- Submit your Expression of Interest
*Female founders are encouraged to apply
**This cohort will receive funding in cryptocurrency (up to USD $100K equivalent). If you’re new to crypto and interested in applying, the UNICEF CryptoFund supports startups with a step-by-step process for setting up wallets. Email the team at firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line “[Company Name]: Setting up a crypto wallet”.
***If you are not sure if your country’s legislation allows for holding cryptocurrencies, please make sure to mention this in your application.
Application Deadline: 8 March 2022
The COVID-19 pandemic created economic hardships and has had compounding impacts on many aspects of children’s lives. While some saw life continue online, many who couldn’t access digital services – from education, to health, to social protection and financial services – became increasingly excluded from the opportunity to thrive.
UNICEF’s Office of Innovation explores technologies, such as blockchain, with the potential to impact children and young people globally, providing them with information, opportunity and choice. In our initial blockchain explorations, the use cases we focused on were quite broad; this allowed us to better understand a variety of use cases and gain a better understanding of where the technology might be applicable in the context of UNICEF. These findings led us to refine our premise of where we believe blockchain can be useful in the context of UNICEF’s work.
Blockchain-based solutions allow us to rethink how problems are solved; the technology allows for 1) greater transparency and efficiency in systems, 2) better coordination of data across multiple parties, and 3) the possibility for greater community engagement in decision-making that is more difficult with traditional technologies or systems. The approach to achieving this is by researching and prototyping with both internal and external stakeholders.
UNICEF’s innovation portfolio approach focuses its efforts on the most challenging problems UNICEF is trying to solve for and with children and young people, through 9 thematic portfolios. Through this call for proposals, we are seeking blockchain solutions that can address problems across a variety of portfolios including youth, climate change, learning and humanitarian portfolios. These portfolio areas are among others prioritize solutions that improve accountability on service delivery and policies; empower and actively engage young people; improve equity in access to connectivity and the digital world; and, grow and improve funding flows.
What we're looking for
We are currently looking to invest in companies developing blockchain-based software solutions using cryptocurrencies, smart contracts, and various types of tokens, as well as learning and training initiatives to build capacity. Examples of areas of interest include, but are not limited to:
Area 1: Improving accountability and transparency of services and payments
Blockchain technologies can create transparent, efficient systems to exchange value, track supply chains and trade commodities.
We are seeking solutions that:
- Enable people, organizations and other entities to use, earn, and hold cryptocurrencies.
- Track supply chains and value flows. In particular, we are interested in solutions related to areas like connectivity, electricity, climate or other foundational infrastructure.
- Enable Blockchain Oracle Services / Frameworks / APIs to measure provider performance (especially related to measurement of internet connectivity or energy).
- Automate payments and manage contracts based on providers’ performance.
- Provide On-ramp and Off-ramp services for smooth conversion of fiat to crypto and vice versa (preferably global in presence).
- Manage and trade assets/commodities in a decentralized manner that benefits communities.
Area 2: New financing models and rewards
By engaging with the crowd in new ways, we can build sustainable models to generate value, supporting the long-term development and delivery of services. For example, rewards could be used to incentivize communities to collect and share data that can then be used for decision making and resource allocation.
We are seeking solutions that:
- Use cryptocurrencies to increase investments (I.e. staking, crowdfunding).
- Incorporate incentives to encourage value creation (I.e. crowdsourcing, badges).
- Create new economies and marketplaces (I.e. tokens).
Area 3: Empower young people to engage actively in these new systems
UNICEF supports the creation of Open Source software to ultimately enable communities with new tools. We are interested in solutions that empower local communities to engage with systems in new ways, such as those that:
- Enable communities to access financial services (digital payments, banking)
- Provide students and teachers with better learning experiences (teaching children about crypto, NFT creation by students, gamification and learning)
- Explore new ways of making decisions and participating in different ecosystems (DAOs, decentralized storage, distributing connectivity, energy or other resources to communities)
Our funding is not necessarily limited to the above. We are interested in companies that use distributed ledger tech in new, groundbreaking, ways that are scalable, and globally applicable.
If you meet the UNICEF Venture Fund criteria, we want to hear from you.
UNICEF’s Venture Fund has been specifically designed to finance early stage, Open Source technology that can benefit children. The core motivation of the Venture Fund is to identify “clusters” or portfolios of initiatives around emerging technology - so that UNICEF can both shape markets and learn about and guide these technologies to benefit children. We invest in solutions clustered around $100 billion industries in frontier technology spaces, such as: blockchain, virtual and augmented reality, machine learning, and artificial intelligence.
The Venture Fund is particularly seeking solutions that are:
- Addressing challenges to accelerate results for children.
- Optimized for low-resource environments (e.g. low connectivity, mobile access).
- Focus on reducing, rather than widening, inequalities.
- Able to deliver in multiple languages, including smaller languages.
The UNICEF CryptoFund is a pooled fund of bitcoin and ether. It is a part of UNICEF's Venture Fund, with the distinction that investments made through the CryptoFund are denominated in crypto. By sharing the public records of crypto transfers, the CryptoFund aspires to create visibility for the donor and the public, adding a layer of transparent accounting to the donation and investment processes. The CryptoFund is a prototype fund for UNICEF to explore the use of digital currencies, and what it means to operate in a digitally financed future.
Giga is a joint initiative launched by UNICEF and ITU in September 2019 to connect every school to the Internet and every young person to information, opportunity and choice. It uses schools as anchor points for their surrounding communities: if you connect schools, you can also connect local businesses and services. In particular, Giga leverages new technologies such as DS/AI and blockchain to improve efficiencies and create a transparent system to deliver connectivity to schools.