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$100K Investment by UNICEF Crypto Fund in Humanitarian Blockchain Projects

From emerging countries that are handling COVID-19 and humanitarian challenges has been on search by UNICEF’s crypto fund for blockchain startups.

In the course of recent years, the United Nations International Children's Fund has been putting resources into new companies applying open-source technologies, planning to improve the world a spot, yet is hoping to step up its game much further at this point. 

Cecilia Chapiro, an investment consultant at UNICEF Ventures, revealed to Cointelegraph that UNICEF had launched its innovations funds in 2016 with the objective to help rising technologies being worked in creating nations. From that point forward, UNICEF has put resources into more than 50 new companies across 35 nations. Chapiro said, “We invest in technologies that have the potential to influence billions of people, especially children in emerging countries”.

As indicated by Chapiro, UNICEF distinguished blockchain as one of the technologies that could have a worldwide effect. In that capacity, UNICEF contributed $100,000 of value-free financing through its development fund eighteen months prior to six new companies, three of which were centered around blockchain. 

To additionally comprehend blockchain technology’s effect, UNICEF launched a cryptocurrency fund supported by the Ethereum Foundation in October 2019. Chapiro clarified that the crypto support depends on a similar structure as the innovation funds; the main contrast is that investments are made in cryptocurrency. She said, “UNICEF’s innovation fund allows companies to partake in a one-year portfolio experience. We provide non-financial benefits that go along with the investment. We look for companies with a prototype that can be reviewed and strengthened to benefit a large number of users. We support the companies in a number of ways, helping prepare them to speak with additional investors after the one-year program ends.”

Blockchain: An open door for humanitarian development 

On June 20, UNICEF's crypto support made its biggest crypto venture to date, worth 125 ETH — around $28,600 at that point — in eight open-source technology organizations. Promptly following this funding round, UNICEF reported that it will contribute another $100,000 worth of both United States dollars and crypto in blockchain new companies that influence open-source technology to battle worldwide difficulties, particularly those identified with the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Chapiro, who helped launch UNICEF's crypto adventure, clarified that the store has empowered the association to genuinely put resources into blockchain new businesses. She stated:

“After investing in three blockchain companies over a year ago and then a few more just two weeks ago, UNICEF’s crypto fund has reached a new level of growth to accommodate the funding of about five to eight more open-source blockchain projects.”

As per Chapiro, UNICEF is hoping to help early-stage startups with a blockchain model that can be changed and in the end conveyed in nations that need the technology the most. For instance, during the last funding round, UNICEF put resources into blockchain startup StaTwig, an organization situated in India that utilizes a blockchain to follow the flexible chain of rice being conveyed from the Indian government to low pay regions. 

Sid Chakravarthy, the organizer, and CEO of StaTwig disclosed to Cointelegraph that India utilizes a Public Distribution System to convey basic products to people living under the neediness line. Chakravarthy clarified that each state in India works its own PDS, noticing that COVID-19 has made a significantly more appeal for PDS items. He stated: “In Telangana State, where we are currently working, there are 28.3 million beneficiaries. These beneficiaries receive a lot of subsidized essentials, such as rice, dal, kerosene, and sugar through this program. Rice is the most important product. It is procured from state farmers and traders, processed in rice mills, then transported to and stored at various warehouses and finally distributed to beneficiaries through fair price shops.”

While India's PDS may appear to be viable in theory, there are various issues that should be tended to. For example, Chakravarthy noticed that there is an absence of visibility into the stock in India's gracefully chains. An increasingly transparent framework could guarantee that there are sufficient rice packs in each distribution center to satisfy the flexibility and needs of each state. Also, transparency could give more excellent items that are not presented to harsh ecological conditions. 

StaTwig has been utilizing blockchain to make a digital identity for each and every item. “With rice, every bag gets a unique digital ID,” said Chakravarthy. Items are then followed from the ranchers, right to the recipients. Information is recorded, indicating every area where the sacks have been, the chain of guardianship, and the quality of the item.

UNICEF has likewise recently invested into Mexico-based startup OS City, which has been giving blockchain-based government resources and running a pilot to send 1,000 blockchain IDs to allot instructive resources for kids, for example, diplomas. Jesús Cepeda, the organizer of OS City, disclosed to Cointelegraph that the pilot is the initial move toward enforcing blockchain resident IDs, which will permit government advantages for becoming completely digital, secure, and transparent: “We are solving the problem associated with the tampering of government records. We use blockchain as a tamper-proof, transparent method to allocate information. We are putting forth the funding from UNICEF to organize government records associated with an individual into a ‘wallet-like’ blockchain asset so that we can improve public institutions’ efficiency and trust.”

Crypto versus fiat ventures 

It's essential to call attention to that UNICEF's funding for both StaTwig and OS City was made in Ether (ETH). Christina Rose Lomazzo, the blockchain lead at UNICEF, disclosed to Cointelegraph that most associations that get subsidizing in crypto promptly convert it to fiat. Be that as it may, UNICEF's crypto fund had required the eight organizations they recently put resources into to keep the assets as digital currency: “This ensures that companies understand the benefits of cryptocurrency, such as the traceability aspect and speed of transactions versus those being done by traditional systems. These startups could also make use of the crypto by paying their employees with it.”

Chris Fabian, a senior consultant and co-lead of UNICEF Ventures, further expressed in a public statement that moving the cryptocurrency assets to eight organizations situated in seven nations took under 20 minutes. Moreover, UNICEF has been working at building a progression of tools for its crypto support that would permit the associations to work all the more proficiently with cryptocurrencies. Lomazzo shared that the primary tools being constructed are the crypto fund website, which is extremely only a disentangled form of a square explorer. This would permit the overall population to follow reserves while filling in as an inward valuation instrument.

Interestingly, the new round of funding will be scattered as both crypto and fiat, a first for UNICEF's crypto support. Lomazzo clarified that the purpose behind this change is because of the way that cryptocurrency is as yet not all around lawful. 

UNICEF's essential focus is to put resources into new companies situated in developing nations, similar to India, which despite everything has limitations with regards to cryptocurrency appropriation. Also, Lomazzo referenced that UNICEF's givers have given assets in both crypto and fiat, permitting the association to utilize the two currencies

The significance of open-source

In addition, while UNICEF's crypto fund will contribute up to $100,000 worth of USD and crypto in blockchain new companies, another significant component is that each organization must use open-source technology. Mind Behlendorf, the official executive of the Hyperledger Foundation, revealed to Cointelegraph that open-source permitting is basic for changing programming from a device of control into a tool that could in the long run advantage mankind: “Traditional software approaches create dependency by the user upon the tech provider, but open-source licensed software confers the freedom to use, modify and share for any purpose, not just those allowed or even envisioned by their original creators. For blockchain applications, this is a natural requirement for decentralization and trust that the system is doing what it should. This may be why the only meaningful blockchain frameworks are all open-source licensed.”.

Chapiro further noticed that since the store doesn't quantify the rate of return from financial gain, open-source technology is pivotal to see how valuable the technology is in an assortment of settings. 

Challenges of putting investment into blockchain organizations 

Despite the fact that UNICEF's crypto support plans to invest in another cluster of new companies that might change the world, this might be more difficult than one might expect. The greatest test, as per Chapiro, is discovering blockchain organizations situated in rising nations, which is a key prerequisite for the store. Numerous blockchain ventures are being created in the U.S., Europe, and Asia.

Additionally, Chapiro referenced that UNICEF has been hoping to invest in organizations established by ladies or minorities. Despite the fact that this hasn't been simple, Chapiro clarified that 40% of the interests in UNICEF's development support have been made in ladies driven organizations. She trusts this number will arrive at the half before the finish of 2020. 

Shockingly, COVID-19 hasn't made numerous issues for UNICEF regarding discovering new businesses to put resources into, as a large portion of the procedures has consistently been virtual. As per Chapiro, the main in-person experience is seven days in length workshop in New York, which organizations can join once they get financing. Following COVID-19 spikes, this workshop has been made virtual. Notwithstanding, while COVID19 didn't have a lot of an effect on the operations of UNICEF's crypto subsidize, Chapiro clarified that a significant number of the new companies have been influenced: “Many of the other funding programs these startups were a part of were discontinued or limited following COVID-19. This is why we are doing much quicker funding rounds now. We ended up investing in eight companies a few weeks ago, some of which we had previously funded. Now, there is an increasing demand for their services because many of them are solving COVID-19 related challenges.”

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