UNICEF’s first portfolio of investments includes five startups including support for 9Needs from South Africa that uses blockchain and advances in identity technology to create better management systems for early childhood development services. The other startups include Nicaragua-based Saycel, mPower from Bangladesh, Pakistan-based Innovations for Poverty Alleviation Lab and Cambodia- based Chatterbox, the release stated.
According to the reports by CoinDesk.com, 9Seeds is receiving roughly $100,000 in investment, which will be used to further scale the platform it has already developed. 9Needs developed a self-sovereign identity and contracting system that will digitally enable South African early childhood development programs. The system uses blockchain infrastructure and smart contracts and helps strengthen the current registration, contracting, information and management systems.
The UNICEF Innovation Fund applies a venture capital approach to source solutions for issues including transportation, identity, wearable technology, and finance, among others.
“The UNICEF Innovation Fund is a new way of doing business at the UN; combining the approach of Silicon Valley venture funds with the needs of UNICEF program countries,” Cynthia McCaffrey, Director of the UNICEF Office of Innovation said. “The Fund allows us to prototype technology solutions, as well as expands our networks of open source collaborators to improve children’s lives.”
UNICEF aims to invest in more than 20 additional companies in 2017. The UNICEF Innovation Fund has also opened the next round of applications from technology start-ups, in addition to the first round of investments. It is inviting technology startups to apply for investment and become part of this growing portfolio of open source solutions and the deadline is 1st January 2017.