According to the announcement, the money will go to six companies with the express goal “to deliver open-source prototypes of blockchain applications within 12-months.”
These blockchain companies are far from UNICEF’s only recent technology investments, as the report claims that these 6 will “join 20 other technology startups currently under management by the Fund in fields from data science and machine learning, to virtual reality, to drones.”
“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,” said Chris Fabian, UNICEF Innovation’s principal advisor. “That’s exactly the stage when UNICEF Innovation Fund invests.”
The selection process for this grant money evaluated more than 100 companies from 50 countries, finally settling on 6 that were set to “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.”
One such selected company, the Argentinian Atix Labs, is set to help small businesses gain access to funding. Onesmart and Prescrypto, two selected companies from Mexico, will attempt to address the misuse of funding for social services and give communities access to pharmaceutical prescriptions, respectively. These are joined by the Indian company Statwig, focused on vaccines, the Tunisian social collaboration tool Utopixar and the Bangladeshi W3 Engineers, which hopes to give refugees access to mobile connectivity.
These six companies all rely on distributed ledger technology to accomplish their market solutions, and UNICEF states that “these investments are part of UNICEF’s larger blockchain explorations of using smart-contracts for organizational efficiencies, creating distributed decision-making processes, and working to build knowledge and understanding of distributed ledger technology.”
Focus on blockchain technology development is often centered around economic powerhouses like the U.S. and China, or smaller nations like Switzerland trying to attract international business. Equally important to the future of a truly decentralized system, however, is the ability for developers from nations around the world to build sophisticated and dynamic distributed ledger systems on a domestic basis, things that people really need. On this front, UNICEF has just made a great stride.