Last week, Chainlink capped off an eventful month by awarding a Chainlink Community Grant to support the UNICEF Innovation Fund, which finances early stage, open-source technology benefiting children in emerging markets, and the UNICEF CryptoFund – a new financial vehicle that allows UNICEF to receive, hold and disburse cryptocurrency.
The Chainlink Community Grant will help UNICEF support startups building blockchain-based solutions through funding, mentorship and technical expertise, with the goal of accelerating blockchain as a force for good, especially in areas of the world where innovative solutions are needed most.
“We’re looking forward to working with Chainlink to provide domain-specific expertise related to data and smart contracts and additional resources to help expand the capabilities of startups in emerging markets who are building digital public goods for those who need them most,” said Sunita Grote, Venture Lead at UNICEF.
In exploring the applications and benefits of blockchain technology, UNICEF is focused on three main initiatives: leveraging innovative financing models to distribute resources, increasing the efficiency and transparency of processes, and incentivizing and encouraging the creation and maintenance of open-source digital public goods.
Grote said UNICEF is tackling this three-pronged approach by researching and prototyping both internally and with collaborators. “We always look to work with partners that share in our vision of narrowing the gap between technologies and the people we need to reach,” she said.
“With Chainlink, we will continue exploring – through our Innovation Fund, but also our larger blockchain initiatives – how blockchain and cryptocurrency can drive more transparent and globally accessible investment in open source solutions that solve the most pressing challenges facing children and young people.”
One of the biggest challenges facing blockchain projects is being able to connect and utilize various off-chain data. “Chainlink will help our teams better understand and leverage the benefits of decentralized oracles and utilize smart contracts efficiently,” Grote said. Furthermore, bringing off-chain data on-chain will help UNICEF establish more fair and transparent systems.
One such use case for smart contracts is Giga, a global initiative to connect every school and every student to the internet. Smart contracts can automatically execute payment to internet providers when pre-established conditions are met based on real-time, transparent connectivity data.
Chainlink’s support of UNICEF’s Innovation Fund and CryptoFund will also benefit companies that are developing and adapting solutions to the ongoing Covid-19 crisis. For example, StaTwig, which previously received funding from the Innovation Fund, is piloting a blockchain-based app to track and improve the delivery of rice to millions living in poverty in India – a need greatly amplified by Covid-19.
In the coming weeks, UNICEF will announce several companies constituting its first blockchain cohort to receive investments in fiat and cryptocurrency. Selections will be made from 450 submissions from 77 countries. Grote said that chosen companies share a clear theme of “financial inclusion,” a vision made possible by oracles and smart contracts: “We look forward to Chainlink and other industry experts joining us in shaping these solutions for bigger social impact.”
Listen to UNICEF’s Sunita Grote talk about the Chainlink Community Grant on The Decrypt Daily podcast.