The UNICEF Innovation Fund is looking to make up to $100K equity-free investments (in USD and/or cryptocurrency) to provide early-stage (seed) financing and mentoring to for-profit technology startups that have the potential to benefit humanity.
Applicants have the opportunity to receive a portion of funding in cryptocurrency (bitcoin or ether) through our recently launched CryptoFund. Given the current global climate and a dramatic shift to a digital world as a result of COVID-19, open-source solutions that address critical needs for society are as important as ever.
If you have a startup registered in one of UNICEF’s program countries and have a working, open-source blockchain prototype (or you are willing to make it open-source) showing promising results, we are looking for you.
Who we’re looking for
We are currently looking to invest in companies developing blockchain-based software solutions. Examples of areas of interest include, but are not limited to:
Financing enables individual people to participate in and contribute to various ecosystems.
We are seeking solutions that :
- Enable people to use, earn, and hold cryptocurrencies
- Allow people to access decentralized financial instruments
- Explore new models to empower communities to act as their own economic hubs
- Make financial systems more transparent
Around the world, groups work together to deliver services. Increased transparency and accountability in these processes lead to better results.
We are seeking solutions that:
- Allow various group to work together in a transparent and accountable nature (i.e. supply-chain, contract management, data tracking, etc.)
- Enable decentralized deal-making, for example through decentralized marketplaces
UNICEF supports the creation of open-source software to ultimately enable communities with new tools.
We are interested in solutions that empower local communities to engage with systems in new ways, such as those that:
- Explore new ways of making decisions (i.e. using a decentralized method such as DAOS to determine what projects should receive funding)
- Protect user data collected through solutions through zero-knowledge proofs or other mechanisms.
Our funding is not necessarily limited to the above. We are interested in companies that use distributed ledger tech in new, groundbreaking, ways that are scalable, and globally applicable.
If you are aligned with our general criteria, we want to hear from you.
What does the UNICEF Innovation Fund provide?
The Fund provides up to $100,000 in equity-free seed funding, in USD. The investment is intended for prototype testing and validation, and to get it to a stage where the company has proof that the solution works.
Selected startups also have the opportunity to receive part of their funding in cryptocurrency. The UNICEF CryptoFund disburses funds in both bitcoin and ether.
The Fund taps into a network of mentors who help startup teams develop their business model and strategy to grow their company and ultimately profit.
Networks and platforms
UNICEF Ventures has a blockchain and computer science team with access to corporate partnerships and use cases that selected blockchain start-ups can benefit from.
Product and Technology Development
Investees receive technical assistance from the UNICEF Ventures team and dedicated expert mentors to help validate and improve their solutions.
As the world’s leading organization for children, UNICEF has a network of experts and partners across its Country Offices who can provide localized advice and partnerships needed to reach more users.
How to apply:
Step 1) Check the general eligibility criteria:
- You must be registered as a private company in a UNICEF programme country;
- You are working on open source technology solutions or willing to be open-source under the following licenses or their equivalent: BSD, GNU, MIT (software), CERN, MIT, TAPR (hardware), or CC-BY (content);
- You have an existing prototype of the solution with promising results from initial pilots;
- Your solution has the potential to positively impact the lives of children.
Step 2) Read the full Request for Expressions of Interest document and FAQs
- Read the full Request for Expressions of Interest (REOI) document to understand the submission process and to learn more about the kinds of projects that qualify and how the scoring will be done;
- Read the FAQs;
- For any other questions, please submit through the form here.
Step 3) SUBMIT
- Submit your expression of interest by completing the form.
- All submissions must be made in English. If you wish to preview the questions to prepare your submission, view/download this PDF.
- To support your preparation, please note that the submission form also asks for a link to a 2-min pitch video.
- Detailed instructions can be found in the form.
What happens after your submission?
The submissions deadline is on 11:59 PM ET July 26th, 2020. Only shortlisted companies will be contacted and then requested to submit a more in-depth proposal.
*Female-founded start-ups are encouraged to apply.