UNICEF granted the startup $100,000 for the field experiment with a number of blockchain-based services at the country’s 50 child centres.

A group of South African blockchain enthusiasts founded a company named 9needs in 2012. Their aim is to use the distributed ledger technology for the solution of many social problems that fester post-apartheid Africa.

Over three years, the company developed several projects. The main one is Amply, a set of blockchain implementations that will allow the government of South Africa to manage Early Childhood Developments Services better.

Early Childhood Development Services is a network of state-funded special centres that help children from the lower strata of South African society to socialise, foster various skills and enter state schools. According to official data, Early Childhood Development centres provide communities with different services from basic nutrition assistance to teacher development programs.

Amply project will use a distributed ledger to improve the documentation system in the network of state-coordinated centres.

“Amply is using blockchain technology to improve Early Childhood Development (ECD) services in South Africa. Using blockchain infrastructure and smart contracts, we prototyped a system that will help strengthen the current registration, contracting, information and management systems,” states the company.

In the following year, 9needs will conduct a test use of blockchain at 50 ECD centres in South Africa. The company applied for a newly-established UNICEF grant program and won $100,000. 9needs will invest the money in the implementation of the project.

This is the first-ever investment into a blockchain company through the UNICEF Innovation Fund, which 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. The Fund allows us to prototype technology solutions, as well as expand our networks of open source collaborators to improve children’s lives,” explains Cynthia McCaffrey, Director of the UNICEF Office of Innovation.

Previously, the international organisation declared its readiness to experiment with the blockchain technology. Now it chose 9needs for the first investment.

Roman Korizky