The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the arm of the UN tasked with providing healthcare and support services to children and mothers across the world, has officially opened its doors to cryptocurrency donations.
Unveiled on October 9th, the new UNICEF Cryptocurrency Fund paves the way for the non-governmental organization — whose work itself is split among 36 constituent “committee” NGOs — to accept cryptocurrency donations in bitcoin (BTC) or ether (ETH), the figurative fuel of the Ethereum network.
Notably, UNICEF only receives funding through voluntary contributions, so now the group’s public fundraising options just got that much wider via these new kinds of money.
The first recipients of the crypto funding will be UNICEF affiliate GIGA, a team working to bring internet to international schools, as well as UNICEF Innovation Fund grantees Atix Labs, Prescrypto, and Utopixar, which are focused on connecting projects with investors, prescriptions logistics, and community incentive tokens respectively.
Speaking of the new crypto fund, UNICEF executive director Henrietta Fore said the effort was part of the NGO body doing its homework on the future humanitarian opportunities that could be made possible by cryptocurrencies:
“This is a new and exciting venture for UNICEF. If digital economies and currencies have the potential to shape the lives of coming generations, it is important that we explore the opportunities they offer. That’s why the creation of our Cryptocurrency Fund is a significant and welcome step forward in humanitarian and development work.”
Of course, it’s a win-win venture for UNICEF and the top two cryptocurrencies alike, as the UNICEF gets access to another donations rail for its humanitarian efforts, while bitcoin and ether are legitimized that much more as neutral money in having a mainstream aid agency embrace them.
The Ethereum Foundation Is First to Pitch In
Wednesday marked the second day of this year’s Devcon 5 conference in Osaka, Japan, and the UNICEF news made it land with a humanitarian focus.
Indeed, Ethereum Foundation (EF) executive director Aya Miyaguchi revealed during the morning’s keynote presentation that the foundation had partnered with UNICEF on the new crypto fund and would provide its inaugural donation of 100 ETH — worth approximately $19,000 USD at the time of this article’s writing.
As Miyaguchi said on the news:
“The Ethereum Foundation is excited to demonstrate the power of what Ethereum and blockchain technology can do for communities around the world. Together with UNICEF, we’re taking action with the Cryptofund to improve access to basic needs, rights, and resources. We aim to … grow the community of those that benefit from a technology that will better countless lives and industries in the years to come.”
Not UNICEF’s First Rodeo in Blockchain Arena
In recent months, the youth-focused NGO has been increasingly exploring blockchain technology to help in its aid efforts.
Before the UNICEF Cryptocurrency Fund, the most prolific of those aid efforts came when the organization entered into discussions with the government of the Central Asian nation of Kyrgyzstan back in the spring for a GIGA-like initiative that is focused around connecting hundreds of schools in Kyrgyzstan to the internet.
Dubbed Project Connect, that initiative uses blockchain tech to track and map out the internet connectivity levels of international schools. During the course of its work, the project discerned that hundreds of the 1,500 some schools in Kyrgyzstan were without internet access. Accordingly, UNICEF began discussions with the Kyrgyzstan government earlier this year to further deploy this blockchain solution in the country.
Moreover, beyond the NGO’s three aforementioned Innovation Fund grantees, the body also invested in three other blockchain-centric startups — Onesmart, Statwig, and W3 Engineers. What the organization does next in the space remains to be seen, but it’s surely not done in the arena for now.