Last date: Friday, April 15, 2022
Mercy Corps Ventures launched their Crypto For Good Fund with the objective to drive global financial inclusion through a series of pilots, building an evidence base to prove the scalability of blockchain-enabled solutions in making a positive impact on the 1.7 billion people in the world who are currently unbanked.
Through Mercy Corps Ventures, the impact investing arm of Mercy Corps, startups will receive grant funding, mentorship, networking opportunities, brand exposure, and more. Pilot projects should utilize decentralized finance and blockchain technology to improve access to financial services and other livelihood improvements for low-income communities in frontier and emerging economies.
The objective of the Fund is to pilot and generate insights from up to ten innovative use cases, partnerships and business models in selected geographies, in order to improve the sustainability and scalability of blockchain-enabled solutions for low-income and un/underbanked populations. From this, the Fund will generate important evidence and insights to support the scale of these solutions to more users, and/or apply them in other applicable contexts. The grant projects must seek to demonstrate:
- How blockchain technology can increase financial inclusion among low-income and un/underbanked populations;
- What business models and partnerships are required for blockchain solutions to be adopted sustainably and at scale; and
- What additional socio-economic impact can be achieved by using blockchain solutions to build financial inclusion solutions.
- Up to 10 social enterprises will receive up to $100,000 in grant funding to test their pilot projects applying decentralized finance and blockchain technology to build financial inclusion solutions for users in emerging markets.
- Mercy Corps Ventures (MCV) is looking for startups, small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and social enterprises in Africa, South and SouthEast Asia, Latin America, the Caribbean, the Middle East, Pacific Islands, and Western Balkans, who innovatively apply decentralized finance (DeFi) and blockchain technology to build financial inclusion solutions for un/underbanked and low-income users.
- Mercy Corps Ventures is particularly interested in supporting entrepreneurs local to the market in which they’re operating as well as female founders, applicants with representation of women at all levels of the organization and/or solutions that reach an extensive female-user base.
Solutions can include, but are not limited to:
- Coins / Tokens
- Digital wallets
- Lending protocols
- Digital ID
- Smart contracts
To be eligible to apply, applicants must meet the following criteria:
- Be a small and growing enterprise or startup leveraging blockchain to deliver financial inclusion solutions to low-income and/or un/underbanked users in at least one eligible country.
- Have active users and commercial revenue (users and revenue from any products or services offered by the organization) in at least one eligible country.
- Be an entity registered and operating in the country of pilot implementation (whether domestic or internationally-owned or a joint venture). In cases where responsibility for service delivery lies with a downstream partner, rather than the applicant (for example service delivery by a local government), it may be acceptable for the applicant to be registered in a country other than that of pilot implementation.
- Be fully compliant with relevant business licensing, taxation, employee and other regulations in all applicable countries of grant pilot operation.
- Be registered and have a bank account in the country where they will receive the grant money (if not the same as the pilot implementation country).
- Be an eligible entity and demonstrate that a majority of their income is derived from commercial activities. Early-stage companies who have not reached this threshold will need to demonstrate a reliable path to sustainability via commercial activities that generate revenue to be considered.
- Startups must allocate significant resources to demonstrate commitment and signal the strategic importance of the pilot opportunity.
- Only one organization can apply for funding and become a pilot delivery partner. Applicants are encouraged to have downstream partners to support implementation. In the case of government entities being grant pilot partners, they cannot be a sub-recipient of the grant.
During the selection process, they will also ensure eligible applicants are/have:
- Adequate financial systems, to report regularly to the Fund, providing evidence of expenditure of grant funds.
- A bank account to receive and hold grant payments.
- Adequate internal human resource capability to implement the proposed pilot and comply with the Fund’s reporting requirements within the pre-agreed time frame.
- Able to demonstrate the potential and drive to form strategic partnerships with other technology organizations.
- A plan for long-term sustainability and societal impact beyond the lifespan of the grant (such as through user uptake, business model, financial viability, follow-on funding, etc.) and demonstrate there is further potential for scale or replication.
- Applicants may need to demonstrate how they are compliant with all applicable laws and regulations across markets of operations.
They particularly encourage the following applicants to apply:
- Female founders, and applicants with representation of women at all levels of the organization.
- Entrepreneurs local to the market in which they’re operating, and applicants with representation of local talent at all levels of the organization.
- Applicants who have partnerships with relevant local stakeholders (e.g. community-based organizations) to deliver the pilot directly to users/participants.
- Applicants who demonstrate that their user base is over 50% female.
- Applicants who have a clear understanding of how their solution improves financial inclusion of low-income and un/underbanked communities and have proactively taken steps to set targets and systematically measure these impacts.