The United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) says it wants to invest in early-stage blockchain startups. This sounds strange, and is already raising questions as to the relationship between UNICEF and cryptocurrency. UNICEF is a UN agency with a mandate to advocate for the protection of children’s rights.

UNICEF’s Mission

It basically aims at helping children meet their basic needs and expand their opportunities to reach their full potential. It is guided by the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

UNICEF and Blockchain Technology Funding: What Correlation?
The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (commonly abbreviated as the CRC, CROC, or UNCRC) is a human rights treaty which sets out the civil, political, economic, social, health and cultural rights of children. The Convention defines a child as any human being under the age of eighteen, unless the age of majority is attained earlier under a state’s own domestic legislation.

On this basis, UNICEF strives to establish children’s rights and international standards of behaviour towards children. From its mission statement, one may think that UNICEF is mainly focused on social works. That is, embarking on humanitarian activities towards the enhancement and protection of the rights and social wellbeing of children.

UNICEF and Blockchain Technology Funding: What Correlation?
Central Africa Republic, Children’s Crisis 2015: Children at a UNICEF-supported peace forum – coutesy, UNICEF

Nevertheless, we live in the era of sustainable development drive, where UNICEF is a contributing agency. It thus, also has the responsibility to support children’s full participation in socio-political, and economic development of their communities. In other words, UNICEF works with all necessary partners towards the attainment of the sustainable human development goals. It should not be surprising therefore, when the agency starts showing interest in funding Blockchain Startups.

UNICEF and Blockchain Technology Funding: What Correlation?
Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

Why is UNICEF investing in Blockchain?

Some people argue that the non-profit arm of the UN developed sudden interest in blockchain technology following unprecedented hikes in the value of Bitcoin. They believe that UNICEF has forecasted a bountiful future harvest, should they invest in blockchain technology.

UNICEF insists that the protection and survival of children are universal development imperatives that are integral to human progress. Consequently, investing in early-stage blockchain startups only aims to promote initiatives that have the potential to help children across the globe.

In an announcement on January 16, 2018, UNICEF revealed that it was offering equity-free investments of $50,000 – $90,000 to seed-stage startups developing solutions in open blockchains. This should be in areas including smart contracts, tokens, mining and data analysis.

UNICEF and Blockchain Technology Funding: What Correlation?
Online Aplication directive for Unicef blochain technology funding

This investment initiative is led by the UNICEF Innovation Fund. It’s a cutting-edge move, with the raison d’être of supporting blockchain technology for humanitarian causes.

Added to the equity-free seed funding, will be the offering of technical assistance from the UNICEF Ventures team to selected projects. This will aid in validating and advancing their solutions. Furthermore, the beneficiary startups will also benefit from UNICEF Ventures’ data sharing platforms, as well as mentors to enhance their business models and strategies.

UNICEF’s investment and the future of Blockchain

Worthy of note is that UNICEF invested in a South African blockchain startup in 2016, towards a technology innovation push. So, this move shouldn’t come as a surprise. Chris Fabian, head of UNICEF’s Innovation Ventures, noted that the move marked the beginning of a broader push to find and fund new companies.

UNICEF and Blockchain Technology Funding: What Correlation?
On left wearing a green shirt, Chris Fabian, Co-Lead of UNICEFÕs Innovation Unit talks with (second right) UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake and UNICEF UK Executive Director David Bull at the launch of UNICEF’s Global Innovation Centre and Innovation Fund.

UNICEF’s involement in the funding of blockchain technology startups further proves the increasing global popularity of cryptocurrency. It also strengthens the conviction that there is a very bright future for digital technology. This implies that central operation tasks will largely be carried out using blockchain technology. This is particularly true with bitcoin blockchain and other distributed ledgers.

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