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UNICEF Funds Cohort For Global Financial Inclusion Supported By Chainlink Community Grant

Last month, Chainlink awarded a Chainlink Community Grant to the UNICEF Innovation Fund and the UNICEF CryptoFund, which support startups that are accelerating blockchain as a force for good, especially for children in developing regions of the world.

UNICEF’s Venture Lead, Sunita Grote, told Chainlink Today that Chainlink will play a vital role in solving some of the biggest challenges facing promising blockchain projects. 

“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,” she said. 

This week, the UNICEF Innovation Fund announced a new cohort of seven startups developing open-source, blockchain-based solutions for achieving greater financial inclusion and empowering local communities. The new cohort – selected from 450 submissions from 77 countries – will receive equity-free investments in USD and/or cryptocurrency through the UNICEF CryptoFund and mentorship from UNICEF’s technical experts and partners, including Chainlink. 

The cohort’s seven startups – Xcapit (Argentina), Grassroots (Kenya), Somish Blockchain Labs (India), BX Smart Labs (Mexico), Leaf Global FinTech (Rwanda), Rumsan Associates (Nepal) and KotaniPay (Kenya) – are similarly focused on boosting global financial inclusion by building digital tools that help people in emerging markets access decentralized financial instruments, marketplaces and decision-making mechanisms.

“Our newest cohort of investments is building solutions toward greater financial inclusion, through looking to make payments to frontline workers more efficient, facilitating cross-border transfers, developing community currency, improving access to saving and lending services, and more,” Grote said.

As much of the developing world is still reeling from the ongoing effects of Covid-19, the pandemic has accelerated the development of blockchain solutions for nearly one-third of the world’s adults who are considered “unbanked.”

While financial exclusion disproportionately affects women, Grote said that the majority of UNICEF Innovation Fund’s new investees are female-led startups.

“Supporting female-led companies is ‘smart investing’ and more important than ever as we accelerate our efforts to support underrepresented communities. We’re thrilled that this new cohort of investments is composed of a strong group of companies, of which the majority are female-led.”

The chosen startups will receive up to $100,000, with five out of seven companies opting to receive a portion of the investment in cryptocurrency.

As layer-2 solutions reduce transaction costs and hybrid smart contracts powered by decentralized oracle networks (DONs) serve increasingly advanced use cases, people around the world have more opportunities to take control of their economic destinies without centralized intermediaries. Grants funding blockchain innovations in the social sector further accelerate the shift to decentralized, globally inclusive financial systems.

“As we look into building back better, we need to tap into and support innovators and problem solvers to ensure systems are transparent, efficient, and decentralized — and that they include the traditionally underserved,” Grote said. “We’re excited to support a new cohort of investments in blockchain-enabled solutions toward financial inclusion.”

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