UNICEF, the United Nations’ charity arm for children, will fund 6 startup companies based in developing and emerging economies including a startup from India, StaTwig. Under UNICEF’s Innovation Fund, a total investment of $100,000 will be provided to aid these companies in solving global challenges using blockchain technology.
According to the press release by UNICEF on 10th December, the UNICEF’s Innovation Fund has already funded 20 technology startups in a similar manner. Currently, under management by the Fund, the tech startups work in fields ranging from data science and machine learning to virtual reality to drones. The current round of funding supports 6 companies – Statwig, Atix Labs, Onesmart, Prescrypto, Utopixar, and W3 Engineers, selected from more than 100 applications across 50 countries.
The six chosen companies will build prototypes and systems for global problems like transparency in health-care delivery, affordable access to mobile phone connectivity, and the ability to direct finances and resources to social-impact projects. An open open-source prototype of blockchain applications is to be delivered by each within 12-months.
Chris Fabian, Principal Adviser, UNICEF Innovation, stated in the release:
“Blockchain technology is still at an early stage — and there is a great deal of experimentation, failure, and learning ahead of us as we see how, and where, we can use this technology to create a better world. That’s exactly the stage when UNICEF Innovation Fund invests: when our financing, technical support, and focus on vulnerable populations can help a technology grow and mature in the most fair and equitable way possible.”
Part of a larger blockchain exploration project by UNICEF, these investments are aimed at employing smart-contracts for organizational efficiencies, creating distributed decision-making processes, and working to build knowledge and understanding of distributed ledger technology both in the United Nations and in the countries where UNICEF works.
- Atix Labs, based out of Argentina the company will be developing a blockchain-based platform that will enable small to medium-sized enterprises to procure funding. The funds, its respective use and impact could be measured and traced by using the technology.
- Onesmart, the Mexican company will employ its prototype application to address the issue of fund embezzlement in emerging countries and ensure that the state-provided social services are delivered to children and young people.
- Prescrypto, also based out of Mexico, it will address the issue of lack of electronic prescriptions in developing countries using a digital solution. The platform will enable medical services providers to view one common history of a patient and improve the level of care.
- Statwig, the Indian startup will employ blockchain solutions to enhance supply-chain management system by ensuring efficient delivery of vaccines.
- Utopixar, this company from Tunisia will develop a blockchain-based social collaboration tool, that will facilitate communities and organisations to participate in decision-making and value transfer.
- W3 Engineers, based out of Bangladesh, will develop an offline mobile networking platform aimed at improving connectivity within the refugee and migrant communities, without the use of sim cards and internet connection.
Based out of Hyderabad, India and incubated at T-Hub, StaTwig, is India’s largest startup accelerator. Founded in 2016, by Sid Chakravarthy, StaTwig is an IoT (Internet of Things) and Blockchain startup that innovates Cold-Chain space to prevent wastage of food and vaccines.
The platform used Blockchain and IoT to ensure end-to-end traceability of products from manufacturers to customers. All parties involved in the supply chain could track goods at all times and even be able to trace back to any point. The investment received from the UNICEF Innovation Fund will be used to further validate StaTwig’s solution and thereafter bring it to scale.
Apart from the funds, all the start-up companies will also avail product and technology assistance, support with business growth, and access to a network of experts and partners from the UNICEF’s side. In addition, the Fund also actively seeks second-round investment and support for companies it has invested in along with an opportunity to scale-up these technologies, when they are successful, in the more than 190 countries and territories where UNICEF operates.