SA startup backed by UNICEF Innovation Fund


UNICEF has announced the first five investments made under its Innovation Fund, with South African blockchain startup 9Needs named as one of the investees.

Disrupt Africa reported in February UNICEF launched a US$9 million Innovation Fund for startups in emerging markets developing solutions with the potential to improve the lives of the world’s most vulnerable children. Applications were open to startups with open source technologies.

UNICEF today announced its first portfolio of investments: one South African company; the other four hailing from Nicaragua, Bangladesh, Cambodia, and Pakistan.

South African company 9Needs uses blockchain and advances in identity technology to create better management systems for early childhood development services.

The amount of funding for each startup has not been released.

“The UNICEF Innovation Fund is a new way of doing business at the UN; combining the approach of Silicon Valley venture funds with the needs of UNICEF programme countries,” said Cynthia McCaffrey, director of the UNICEF Office of Innovation.

“The Fund allows us to prototype technology solutions, as well as expand our networks of open source collaborators to improve children’s lives,” she said.

UNICEF hopes to invest in a further 20 to 40 startups during 2017; and the Fund has today re-opened applications for tech startups from across the world’s emerging markets.

Applications for funding can be made here, until January 1, 2017.


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Inspired and excited by the African tech entrepreneurial scene, Gabriella spends her time travelling around the continent to report on the most innovative tech startups, the most active investors, and the latest trends emerging in the ecosystem.

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