Mercy Corps Ventures launches a second year of its Crypto for Good Fund of $1 million to provide up to ten startups with grant funding and support for blockchain-based pilots.
The hype of blockchain for underserved populations in emerging markets has not yet been matched by reality. While some real-world use cases exist, most lack a clear baseline and measurable outcomes to build the business and impact case for Web3 technologies.
So, what does this mean for the 1.4 billion adults that remain unbanked and completely excluded from the financial system? What does it mean for the 3.3 billion people whose daily lives are at risk and highly vulnerable to climate change?
Smallholder farmers, low-income communities, refugees, informal workers, microentrepreneurs, and marginalized women each confront different challenges and inequities that need to be uniquely addressed.
Some may not have access to official identity documents, credit history, or verifiable income. Some live in informal settlements and may have limited internet connectivity. Others are on the move, whether pursuing shifting livelihoods, or fleeing conflict, socioeconomic collapse, and climate change. Some work or live on land that is being rapidly impacted by climate disruptions and degraded by inefficient farming practices.
We need tenacious tech-forward startups, careful human-centered design, and a commitment to working in challenging and previously underserved market contexts.
Impact investor, Mercy Corps Ventures, is looking for startups and organizations operating in Africa and beyond that innovatively apply Web3 and blockchain technology to build solutions for underserved populations. Their Crypto for Good Fund aims to close the ‘hype gap’ by identifying and supporting innovative use cases that increase financial inclusion and climate resilience for groups across the continent, proving the scalability and positive impact of blockchain-enabled solutions.
Priority focus areas include, but are not limited to:
- Access to credit for underbanked users
- Nature-based solutions for climate resilience
- Humanitarian aid delivery
- Transparent supply chains
- Crypto-enabled wallets for underserved users
The Fund will provide equity-free grants of up to $100,000 to ten eligible startups. Alongside capital, MCV will also provide mentorship, impact measurement advisory, access to partnership opportunities, knowledge exchange, and brand exposure.
What do these types of pilots look like in reality? Mercy Corps Ventures has partnered with a diverse range of innovators working across African markets, working with startups like Empowa, who are using NFTs to fuel affordable, climate-smart housing for underserved groups in Mozambique, or Ejara who are providing savings for low-income users in Cameroon through DeFi bond tokenization, and Cinch that are driving fast and affordable DeFi-enabled credit for smallholder farmers in Kenya.
Applicants must be early-stage startups leveraging blockchain to deliver solutions to underserved populations, have active users and commercial revenue, and be an entity registered and operating in the country of pilot. Whether you’re just starting to integrate blockchain or Web3-native, we’re excited to hear about your pilot proposal.
About Mercy Corps Ventures
Mercy Corps Ventures invests in and catalyzes venture-led solutions to increase the resilience of underserved individuals and communities. Founded in 2015 as the impact investing arm of global development agency, Mercy Corps, we’ve supported 41 early-stage ventures to scale and raise over $333.9 million in follow-on capital. Our portfolio is 51% female-founded and centers around resilience-building solutions in adaptive agriculture and food systems, frontier fintech, and climate smart systems, so that those living in frontier markets can withstand disruption and plan for the future. Through capital and support, piloting new approaches, action-oriented insights, and rigorously managing impact, we catalyze the ecosystem toward smarter, more impactful investments.
Learn more at www.mercycorpsventures.vc