UNICEF Makes Venture Capital Investment In South African Blockchain Project

UNICEF Makes Venture Capital Investment In South African Blockchain Project

Blockchain and the ability to create transparent data transfer with distributed ledger technology is important to the United Nations Children’s Fund.

The U.N. has set many of its Sustainable Development Goals around the idea of financial inclusion and how to reduce corruption and bribery in emerging countries and markets, according to IBS Intelligence.

UNICEF — the United Nations Children’s Fund — is a New York City-based program that provides humanitarian and developmental assistance to children and mothers in developing countries.

UNICEF recently announced its first portfolio of investments in open-source technology solutions. These include tools that improve connectivity, real time data collection, identity technology and learning.

The fund is supporting 9Needs, a South African startup that uses blockchain and advances in identity technology to create better management systems for early childhood development service, Blockchain News reported.

One in three children is undocumented, according to UNICEF. More than 95 million people were forcibly displaced, without a country, or refugees as of 2015, Quartz reported. Not being able to identify them leaves them disconnected, makes them a security threat and is bad for international development.

Blockchain is being used to address these issues. For example, in the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya, the blockchain platform BanQu helps displaced Somalis create economic identities, according to Quartz.

The U.N. is pursuing a series of blockchain-focused projects, Coin Desk reported in October.

Through its Alternative Financing Lab, launched in 2015, the U.N. Development Programme is looking into applications in microfinance, remittances and connected vehicles, among others.

Earlier this year, UNICEF began soliciting pitches for related projects, and in August announced that it was hiring and a point person on blockchain.

“The UNICEF Innovation Fund is a new way of doing business at the U.N.,” said Cynthia McCaffrey, director of the UNICEF Office of Innovation, according to a Blockchain News report. “(It combines) the approach of Silicon Valley venture funds with the needs of UNICEF program countries.”