UNICEF’s continued involvement in the development of blockchain technology leads to changing strategies and new financial opportunities.
After officially launching its website last week, UNICEF France will allow individuals to donate Dai, MakerDAO’s Ethereum-compliant, dollar-pegged stablecoin, to fund “open source explorations of blockchain for social impact.” The Dai donations will be used to create global bounties that will help fund blockchain projects around the world.
ETHNews spoke with Christina Lomazzo, blockchain lead at UNICEF Ventures, and Hubert Chaminade, head of digital innovation and fundraising at UNICEF France, about the Dai donations and the projects the global bounties will help fund.
In 2017 and 2018, UNICEF Ventures, a financial organization that invests in emerging blockchain projects, held multi-day hackathons in Mexico and Kazakhstan. The purpose of these events was to give interested youth the opportunity to learn about blockchain technology and develop blockchain solutions to solve challenges specific to their location. The Mexican hackathon tackled identity, payment, and tokens, with all three projects addressing identity storage. The Kazakhstan hackathon, meanwhile, “mainly focused on app development for disaster situations,” said Lomazzo.
Lomazzo explained that, although the events successfully introduced developers to one another, work is still needed in regards to assembling teams and encouraging collaboration after the event. Lomazzo detailed the new steps that will be taken in 2019 during UNICEF Ventures’ events in East Asia, Africa, and South America.
“One of the big lessons learned from our hackathons is that there is a great community of coders, but there aren’t as many blockchain developers, which I don’t think is a surprise for anyone in this space. So, we’re reframing the hackathons as learning events and co-design sessions. We’ll hold one-to-two-day learning events for youth who have coding skills but may not be familiar with blockchain technology, and work to give them this new skill. Then, the co-design sessions won’t just be about building teams of coders, but also youth who are interested in the technology but maybe are stronger in marketing. Essentially, we want to create a space that allows for really cohesive, well-rounded teams to come together and thrive and then go on to present their ideas to thought leaders in their local communities.”
Dai donations will help financially maintain these projects, the research, and the people who are involved. The Dai donations will be used to support global bounties that will fund research for open-source technology and infrastructure projects, many of which will come from the events held by UNICEF Ventures. Chaminade stated:
“We brought our discussion to the Innovations unit of UNICEF, and we thought it would be interesting to launch an offer that could gather Dai and help a community and fulfill one of our ambitions of fielding blockchain tech and its attributes to help UNICEF’s purpose. UNICEF France has been able to accept Dai before because it is an ERC20 token, but we’re now promoting the fact that these Dai donations will help fund the blockchain development community that UNICEF Ventures is building.”
While UNICEF Ventures already invests in blockchain startups, the global bounties will ultimately help fund projects to get to a point where their ideas and solutions can be presented and initiate potential investments opportunities. Lomazzo noted:
“When UNICEF France offered to put these Dai donations into global bounties, that’s really where we began to see an alignment with our plans. The overall goal is to get these early startups to a point where UNICEF Ventures or other venture funds can consider investing in them. This may just be one small step towards early funding possibilities, but it’s a really important one.”
In December 2018, UNICEF’S Innovation Fund invested in its first round of companies working to develop open-source blockchain applications. ETHNews spoke then with Chris Fabian, the principal advisor for UNICEF Innovation, about the six startups that were chosen and UNICEF’s future in blockchain-oriented social solutions.
Nicholas Ruggieri studied English with an emphasis in creative writing at the University of Nevada, Reno. When he’s not quoting Vines at anyone who’s willing to listen, you’ll find him listening to too many podcasts, reading too many books, and crocheting too many sweaters for his dogs, RT and Peterman.
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