The Binance Charity Foundation (BCF) and sponsors ZCoin this week kicked off the 2019 Lunch for Children campaign with a pilot program in Uganda. The initiative, which aims to reach a million people in the developing world, features a “blockchain-enabled” structure for donors to contribute in multiple cryptocurrencies — and requires individual beneficiaries to use them and learn about how it all works.
More Than Just Charity: Lunch for Schools Involves Real Cryptocurrency Use
Binance also launched its first African (and first fiat-trading) exchange in Uganda in 2018. Its stated aim is to make cryptocurrencies more accessible to billions of people around the world, particularly the “unbanked”, and promote their use in the wider world economy.
BCF formed the Lunch for Children program in January to assist in providing meals to school students and teachers. After Uganda, it plans to launch similar projects in places like Rwanda, Kenya and Ethiopia, among others.
Bitcoin and cryptocurrency philanthropic platforms, most famously BitGive, have existed for years. However regulatory and other practical limitations usually required them to convert donated cryptos to fiat before distributing them to recipients. With an existing base in Uganda, Binance will operate in a more blockchain-friendly environment.
What It Costs, and How It’s Used
ZCoin participated by donating $24,000 USD to the pilot, which will supply breakfast and lunch to 200 students and staff at the Jolly Mercy Learning Center in Kampala for a year. Breakfast and lunch for one child can cost $0.30 per day — a small amount to donors, but a significant one in the poorer areas BCF researched, where most people earn less than a dollar a day.
BCF approached ZCoin with the idea, explaining how the blockchain donation system could keep contributions and expenditures transparent. One problem charities have faced in recent years is donors’ lack of knowledge (or trust) as to how much of their money is spent on items that benefit end recipients. Binance aims to solve that problem, while at the same time promoting knowledge and use of cryptocurrencies outside wealthier economies.
To that end, the Lunch for Children does promote actual use of cryptocurrencies among its beneficiaries. Coins are distributed to children’s parents and guardians, who can then send them directly to reputable suppliers (also participating and carefully selected) for the meals. Blockchain records can track whether this process is actually taking place for all recipients.
ZCoin COO Reuben Yap said:
“We were particularly attracted to the Lunch for Children initiative as it was easy to see direct benefits and it was already a proven model. Too often, blockchain and cryptocurrencies have been associated with getting rich and lavish spending, and we felt that it was important that we as an industry be seen as giving back to worthy causes.”
That might seem ironic since ZCoin’s primary concept is privacy and anonymous payments. However there are still plenty of circumstances where private transactions are beneficial, and others where transparency and accountabtility are necessary. ZCoin took contributions from its seed investors and team members for the BCF donation, which it made in PAX tokens.
School and Government Officials Support the Program
Binance Charity Foundation launched its Uganda Pilot at the Jolly Mercy Learning Center, with a ceremony officiated by Uganda’s Minister of State for Primary Education H.E. Rosemary Nansubuga Seninde, school headmaster Dr. James Ssekiwanuka, BCF’s implementation partners Dream Building Service Association (DBSA), and ZCoin representatives.
Both Seninde and Ssekiwanuka said the program is a breakthrough both for innovative philanthropy, and an opportunity to learn the benefits of cryptocurrencies and blockchain accounting.
“It is not only a donation but a disruptive and significant combination of technology and charity, which enables a higher level of trust between stakeholders involved in this process, because people are protected from potential corruption that is vulnerable with middlemen,” Ssekiwanuka said.
Minister Seninde also noted the potential economic benefits, saying it provided a “quantum leap platform” that would promote new technology and make a significant improvement to primary education.
African Countries Most Likely to Benefit From ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution’
Helen Hai, a UNIDO Goodwill Ambassador who also heads BCF, told Bitsonline:
“For the massive unbanked population in countries like Uganda, underserved communities participating in this charity program grants them with a digital wallet as an access point to cryptocurrency so that the economic circulation within the community is available and further benefited from the initial introduction.”
Though it approached ZCoin for the pilot, Hai said Binance plans to encourage partners and others within its ecosystem to become interested in the program and make contributions.
Participation doesn’t involve formal business partnerships with sponsors, and BCF welcomes “all types of contributions from communities with good intentions”.
“We believe that African countries are most likely benefited in the fourth industrial revolution and blockchain is a technology that accelerates this process,” she added.
According to Binance, the blockchain donation program has attracted a lot of interest among young people in China. Several volunteers aged 18-25 are volunteering time and skills to facilitate the project — including computer and cryptocurrency expertise, and on-site monitoring of blockchain records to ensure all funds are going where they should.
BCF is seeking new sponsors and other participants interested in expanding the program to other countries.
Are philanthropic programs that actually encourage cryptocurrency use a good idea? Let us know what you think in the comments.
Images via Binance Charity Foundation