UNICEF Funding Opportunity for Blockchain Startups


The UNICEF Innovation Fund is looking to make $50-100K equity-free investments to provide early stage (seed) finance to for-profit technology start-ups that have the potential to benefit humanity.

If you’ve got a start-up registered in one of UNICEF’s programme countries and have a working, open source prototype (or you are willing to make it open-source) showing promising results, the UNICEF Innovation Fund is looking for you.

Who we’re looking for:

We are currently looking to invest in a group of companies developing software solutions on open blockchains. Examples of these include, but are not limited to:


  • Exploring how crypto tokens work to incentivize or support behaviour that benefits humanity (community tokens, reward systems, token economic models)
  • Utilizing digital scarcity, non-fungible tokens, or digital collectibles for social good (tracking of physical assets, digital credentials, etc.)

User Experience

  • Creating a more user-friendly experience for onboarding new users, in multiple languages, and accessible (ex. low literacy)
  • Offering various custodianship models to manage keys, considering infrastructure considerations such as low connectivity, lack of smartphones, etc.


  • Reducing the cost, and increasing the speed of transactions to enable a larger group of participants in the ecosystem
  • Exploring the interoperability of tokens across various blockchain platforms to enable independent communities to come together to leverage their collective market power
  • Establishing global marketplaces for tokens to be exchanged at any given time from any given location


  • Using smart contracts to replicate and improve on existing organizational mechanisms
  • Enabling efficiencies, transparency, and accountability in contractual engagements (i.e. multi-sig contracts that guarantee certain actors were involved)
  • Applying various on-chain / off-chain governance solutions (e.g. validating users before they join DAOs, managing the custodianship of funds)

Low Fidelity Cryptography

  • Building solutions for low infrastructure areas, such as low/no connectivity, intermittent/lack of electricity, no mobile phones, etc.

Hardware Solutions

  • Developing low-cost hardware solutions that are easily able to interact with blockchains, e.g. creating wallets, storing private keys, sending transactions
  • Enabling a broader group to easily set up blockchain infrastructure, e.g. setting up full nodes

And + 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.

How to apply?
– go to www.unicefinnovationfund.org
– Click on ‘Submit’ and then ‘Submissions by Start-ups’.

Step 1: Check that your company and project meet the eligibility criteria

Check the 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 (software), CERN (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 Request for Expressions of Interest document

On the site, you can find a document that explains how your submission will be evaluated. Read it before you make your submission, as it will help you focus on what’s important.

Step 3: Any Questions?

Check out the Frequently Asked Questions on the site. You can also submit questions that you have through the form provided on the site.

Step 4: Submit your expression of interest

All submissions must be made in English. To support your preparation, please note that the submission form asks for a link to a 2-min pitch video.

When to apply?
We encourage you to submit your application when ready as we will be reviewing on an ongoing basis. Only shortlisted companies will be contacted and then requested to submit a more in-depth proposal.

What does the UNICEF Innovation Fund provide?

Seed funding. The Fund provides $50- $90,000 in equity-free seed funding. The money is intended for prototype testing and validation, and to get it to a stage where the company has proof that the solution works.

Product and technology development. Selected startups will receive technical assistance from the UNICEF Ventures team to help validate and improve their solutions

Business Growth. 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.

Data networks and platforms. UNICEF Ventures has a dedicated Blockchain lead and computer science team hosting and sharing data platforms, and with access to corporate partnerships and use cases that selected Blockchain start-ups can benefit from.

Maximize impact. As the world’s leading organisation for children, UNICEF has a network of experts and partners across its Country Offices who can provide geographically localized advice and partnerships needed to reach more users

Deadline for submission: Ongoing

Source: UNICEF Innovation Fund



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