Grantee Showcase: Meet UNICEF's Alpha Round Grantees

In collaboration with UNICEF's Office of Innovation, we're kicking off Alpha Round Season, and today we're thrilled to introduce you to the ten participating grantees! Learn more about how Gitcoin is testing its grants protocol with key partners like UNICEF.

You can donate now! If you need help, visit Grants Explorer Guide then contact our support team in discord.  Plus, join our telegram group for Gitcoin Alpha Rounds Announcement (for donors) so you don't miss any updates relevant to your participation.

In Argentina, Xcapit is building a smart crypto wallet for social impact, financial literacy, and inclusion. This self-custodial, smart crypto wallet features a wealth management investment planner, access to financial services such as interest-bearing accounts, low- and middle-risk investment products, and loans. They also offer training modules to upskill users' financial and digital literacy. Their solution has already reached over 500k beneficiaries, and the crypto wallet has over 50,000 users across 85+ countries. With the development of their wallet, they aim to distribute better access to financial products and services in the region. They're an ISO 27001-certified DPG, and the team has raised a total of $USD1.8m in follow-on funding and is actively seeking to raise an additional round. Xcapit is also linked with Pulenta, a charitable organization that enables users to donate part of their profits or residual funds to social causes through a donation module, and in which UNICEF is now listed as a recipient. They won the Scale Up Venture category in the Santander X Global Challenge, Blockchain and Beyond, and are a Certified DPG.

Rahat was developed by the Nepal-based company Rumsan and leverages blockchain technology to facilitate faster, transparent cash assistance for beneficiaries in hard-to-reach areas. The application is a digital cash and voucher assistance (CVA) management system. It uses mobile-based blockchain tokens to manage and transparently monitor the flow of aid transactions by humanitarian agencies, for emergency response and recovery programs, especially in hard-to-reach areas. Their digital CVA management system enables humanitarian aid efforts by building greater financial inclusion, increased accountability, and transparency throughout the cash transfer process. They've already run a series of mini-pilots reaching 5,000+ beneficiaries, including a large-scale pilot with the UNICEF Nepal Country Office, and are listed as a certified DPG.

Kotani Pay in Kenya utilizes blockchains to increase access to financial solutions for the under and unbanked. The platform enables users to offramp from crypto to fiat currency using a simple interface that does not require internet connectivity or a bank account. Many African communities are blocked from the benefits of blockchain and cryptocurrencies simply because the technology was built for smartphone users with consistent internet access. Kotani Pay was created to bring financial instruments and services to those that do not have Internet access or the capital and credit standing to open a bank account. They've processed over 31,000 transactions, reaching over 15,000 beneficiaries and cultivating financial inclusion in marginalized African communities. They've integrated their solution into multiple partners' projects, including mobile wallet providers. Kotani Pay raised $800k from a diverse group of investors during their Seed Round, and they've completed pilots with multiple partners, including WFP and Mercy Corps Ventures. They are certified DPG.

AEDES (Advanced Early Detection and Exploration Service) is being built by Cirrolytix, a project based in the Philippines. AEDES is a platform for dengue prediction using climate and health data for better epidemic management. Cirrolytix is a social impact technology firm that aims to help governments, non-profits, researchers, international agencies, and local organizations succeed at addressing collective social problems around the world by harnessing the full power of their data. In 2019, they were the global winner, awarded Best Use of Data, for Project AEDES, in the NASA International Space Apps Challenge. Then in 2020, they again were declared the winners globally for Best Use of Data, for their project GIDEON, in the NASA COVID-19 Space Apps Challenge. Partnering with UNICEF Philippines since 2021, the company aims to improve public health response against dengue by predicting cases from climate and digital data and pinpointing possible hotspots from satellite data. In 2021, they were also declared the Global Winner of Best Use of Technology, at World MAQI, in the EO Dashboard Hackathon. Cirrolytix is now recognized as a Digital Public Good, and they're looking to develop their model further and pilot additional use cases in new contexts.

In Cambodia, Somleng has built an Open Source, low-cost Cloud Communications Platform which powers the Cambodian National Early Warning System. Somleng works out of the box with the RapidPro platform, to extend its reach into communities with low literacy levels. Somleng is a certified DPG, and over the first six months of their recent Growth investment, Somleng has reached over 300,000 beneficiaries, including communities in Zambia, Mexico and Cambodia, as well as supporting UNICEF Guatemala's project, to promote behavior change for the prevention of childhood malnutrition with mobile phone technology. For this project, Somleng is delivering voice messages recorded in 7 native Mayan languages with information about health, hygiene, sanitation, maternal nutrition, breastfeeding, complementary feeding and parenting guidelines, produced for caregivers (mothers and fathers) of children to over 7,000 users directly to their mobile phones.

Pixframe Studios are located in Mexico, creating a game-based learning platform to assess and develop children's cognitive skills, including attention, memory, planning and organization, audiovisual perception, inhibition, and flexibility. They've developed a cognitive assessment program through a series of mini-training games powered by an AI algorithm that helps predict children's learning issues. Pixframe is a certified DPG and is currently part of the Learning Innovation Portfolio as they scale up a game-based math-learning app with UNICEF Mexico. Towi focuses on ages 4-12, and Matematia on ages 12-18. As of 2021, they have more than 100,000 active users on the platform, where children are using Towi to assess and develop their cognitive skills. 50,000 users in Mexico have used Matematia with the help of the minister of education.

StaTwig, a project based in India, uses blockchain technology to ensure the quality and safety of products such as food and vaccines by enabling the track-and-trace of these products in their extended supply chains. StaTwig aims to reduce vaccine waste by preventing Cold-Chain failures and expired & counterfeit products. By tracking the products from the manufacturer to the user, StaTwig records vital information on-chain about the product's journey that connects it back to the entire supply chain. StaTwig has deployed its Vaccine Ledger in 27 projects, tracking nearly 12M doses of vaccines, 22.5M kgs of rice, and 3 million recycled bottles through their platform. All have been implemented through full-scale pilots, which will move to full-scale deployments in 2022. They're currently tracking rice bags on their journey from the farm where they were grown to the beneficiaries of the Telangana state government-subsidized food grain program, which benefits 28.3 million people in India. StaTwig is a certified DPG, and in 2021, they won the Trinity Challenge, providing them access to additional funding and resources to scale up in 2022. Next, they intend to scale the Vaccine Ledger deployment into eight countries in Latin America in partnership with the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).

In Chile, SimpleMap uses thermal aerial imagery and machine learning to monitor errors in large solar panel installs and better maintain the efficiency & performance of these clean energy sources. In the future, they plan to apply the same method to agricultural applications, monitoring crops for early signs of disease. They scan solar panels with drones with highly sensitive sensors that can garner thermal data indetectable by the human eye. They use this data to detect errors and inconsistencies across the entire system. SimpleMap has assessed 230,000 solar panels and found faults in 7150 panels, thus increasing the efficiency and impact of these clean energy systems. They've also documented 178 hectares of agricultural land, generating 24 maps for their clients. They firmly believe that open source solutions leverage collective power and will make their technology open and available for others to experiment with locally, especially hoping to see it deployed towards cultivating food security and energy independence for communities at scale. 

Brazil's Bioverse Labs uses satellite & drone imagery paired with machine learning to access data that enhance local communities' agricultural and energy practices. In the Trombetas River basin, in the Para State of Northern Brazil, multispectral drone imagery and machine learning are utilized in tandem to track economically viable, non-timber species of trees (e.g., chestnut, copaiba, and Brazil nuts). In doing so, they seek to empower indigenous communities in the sustainable management, harvesting, and preservation of their natural resources while supplementing traditional modes of income generation in this region and cultivating local prosperity. First, Bioverse captured multispectral, high-resolution satellite imagery for a detailed picture of the forest canopy, and then they took high-resolution canopy images with drones. Lastly, they built a mobile application that provides in-hand Forest Abundance Maps to local communities using the data collected. Throughout this process, they've identified over 19,240 trees and completed machine learning training for brazil nuts and palm trees, with a 97% accuracy on ML models for the detection of Brazil Nut Trees. They work with locals to create an accompanying sustainable agro-forestry management plan and make their technology open source to maximize its potential reach and impact. The project was originally formed in 2017 during a Google- and NASA-sponsored Global Solutions Program at Singularity University. In the coming years, they intend to expand the application of their solutions to sustainable agriculture, invasive species detection and monitoring the environmental health of urban areas.

Treejer is building a global, open-source protocol that acts as a transparent bridge between tree funders and rural planters. Their blockchain-based platform connects people and organizations who wish to fund trees with rural communities that are paid to plant and maintain them as they grow. They're exploring how DeFi, NFTs, and smart contracts can create diverse financial and non-financial incentives to fund forests and empower local communities. Their Genesis collection represents the first 10,000 trees to be planted via the Treejer Protocol and will help sustain the project as it expands. Genesis trees will be planted in 10 countries across Latin America, Africa, and the Middle East, as they work to economically uplift underserved communities while transparently providing tangible climate change solutions. In prior paradigms, obscured by layers of bureaucracy, we would donate and forget, never knowing where, if or how our funds were spent. Moreover, we would prioritize quantity over quality, celebrating the number of new trees planted instead of considering what we were planting where and how it might impact local ecologies, including planning for post-planting care to ensure their survival. Treejer aims to bridge the gap and to do so thoughtfully & transparently. They won 2nd place in the carbon footprint BSIC Incubator challenge and have partnered with multiple organizations globally to connect with the communities they serve more intentionally. They've worked with Asesorandes in Peru to help scale their presence and impact in Latin America, and they've also collaborated with Coinpay in Costa Rica and Kotani Pay in Ghana & Uganda to build offramps for locals to convert the digital assets received through Treejer into fiat currency that they can spend. This certified DPG hopes to pair innovative climate solutions with the cultivation of financial inclusion for unbanked communities to create the most significant social impact. 

Public goods on grants protocol

Grants protocol is a new way of distributing funds within a community. It is Gitcoin's vision for the future of funding: not a platform nor an isolated fund, but a protocol that any community can use anywhere in the world that connects resources, contributors, and ecosystems in the most optimal way possible.

Grants protocol uses blockchain to make it easier for organizations to identify and incorporate community signals into funding decisions. It also makes it easier for communities to see where funds are distributed in the most transparent way possible.

We're excited to have UNICEF's Office of Innovation as one of our 5 Alpha design partners helping us test and refine how grants protocol can enable anyone to build and fund public goods.

About Gitcoin

Gitcoin exists to empower communities to fund their shared needs. Gitcoin has partnered with dozens of leading organizations and communities to distribute over $72m across fifteen grants rounds to hundreds of grantees through the Gitcoin Grants Program. As Gitcoin evolves, the grants protocol (currently in testing) is Gitcoin's vision for the future of community-driven funding. The grants protocol is not a platform nor an isolated fund but permissionless technology that anyone can use, from anywhere in the world, to empower their community members to coordinate funding for projects that address their shared needs. Stay up to date on Gitcoin's protocol future by following @Gitcoin on Twitter.

About UNICEF

UNICEF's Office of Innovation sits within and across UNICEF's global network in 190 countries to discover, co-create, and scale innovation - both frontier technologies and novel applications of technologies - to improve the lives and futures of children and young people. 

UNICEF's Office of Innovation explores three layers of blockchain technology: Can we focus more resources on problems that affect the world? Can we create greater efficiencies within public sector bureaucracies? Can we fundamentally disrupt some systems which are broken?

As we look into new ways of doing things for our organization and the children we serve, we must tap into new communities of innovators and problem-solvers. 

The UNICEF Venture Fund is the first venture capital vehicle in the UN, allowing UNICEF to learn from and shape markets of emerging technologies that exist at the intersection of $100 billion business markets and 1 billion persons' needs. It is specifically designed to finance early-stage, open-source technology spaces such as blockchain, virtual and augmented reality, machine learning, artificial intelligence, and drones that can benefit children. 

By investing in emerging markets and a diverse set of entrepreneurs, the UNICEF Venture Fund aims to close gaps and contribute to a future where every child can survive and thrive. 

The UNICEF Venture Fund has made 124 investments in 74 countries, with a 43% female-founded portfolio, changing the lives of over 31.7 million children, young people, and communities.

To find out more on how to donate, visit the Grants Explorer Guide.