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UNICEF offers funding for socially beneficial blockchain start-ups

UNICEF offers funding for socially beneficial blockchain start-ups

The Fund is to provide seed finance to for-profit technology start-ups “that have the potential to benefit humanity” using technology. It will make $50-90k equity-free investments.

The Fund is seeking applications from start-ups registered in one of UNICEF’s programme countries. An open source approach is required: applicants must have a working, open source prototype showing “promising results” or be willing to make their software and blockchain solution open source.

The is to be used for prototype testing and validation, and to get projects to a stage where the company has proof that the solution works. The initiatives must benefit children.

What kind of blockchain projects?

UNICEF is looking for companies working in the areas of:

  • smart contracts
  • analysing data
  • tokens
  • mining

It is also interested in other related areas. The Fund is also “interested in companies that use distributed ledger tech in new, groundbreaking, ways that are scalable, and globally applicable. If you are aligned with our general criteria, we want to hear from you.”


Challenges being tackled

The Fund’s call for applications suggests a number of challenges, solutions to which it would be keen to fund.

These include:

  • Using smart contracts to replicate and improve on existing organisational mechanisms
  • Transparency in distribution of resources (can we better show where our money is going?)
  • Using machine learning to understand the activities on public blockchains.
  • Can crypto-flows be used to help organisations  and governments do and understand their transactions more efficiently?
  • Can blockchain data be used to solve humanitarian challenges? (i.e. using bitcoin data to fight human trafficking)?
  • Can crypto tokens work to incentivise or support behaviour that benefits humanity?
  • How could we connect various tokens to each other to maximise human potential?
  • How could we utilise digital scarcity, non-fungible tokens, or digital collectibles for social good?
  • Can we use passive distributed mining networks to create investment funding opportunities for the UNICEF Venture Fund? 



What UNICEF will offer

UNICEF blockchain funding call 2018

In addition to seed funding from UNICEF, the selected start-ups will receive technical assistance from the UNICEF Ventures team to help validate and improve their solutions. This includes access to a network of mentors who help startup teams develop their business model and strategy to grow their company and ultimately profit.

UNICEF Ventures already has a dedicated blockchain lead and computer science team hosting and sharing data platforms. It has access to corporate partnerships and use cases that selected blockchain start-ups could benefit from.

With UNICEF’s global reach it can also provide geographically localised advice and partnerships for the selected start-ups.

Chris Fabian of UNICEF’s Office of Innovation Ventures told Coindesk in November 2017: “I believe that there is a very near future where we will be using blockchain, the bitcoin blockchain maybe, other distributed ledgers, to do central operational tasks”.


How to apply

Applications from eligible start-ups should be made to UNICEF Innovation Fund.

All submissions must be made in English, and require a two-minute pitch video.

The deadline for applications is 11:59 EST on 28 February 2018.



Howard Lake is a digital fundraising entrepreneur. Publisher of UK Fundraising, the world's first web resource for professional fundraisers, since 1994. Trainer and consultant in digital fundraising. Founder of Fundraising Camp.

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