In December 2021, UNICEF announced that it aims to sell 1,000 data-driven NFTs, the UN's largest-ever NFT collection to date, ahead of the organization's 75th anniversary celebrations. Some of the NFTs will be digitally watermarked in honor of the agency's anniversary, while others will be linked to events in early 2022. UNICEF will sell these digital items directly on the Ethereum blockchain.
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The internet's pervasiveness is typically taken for granted in developed nations. However, around 2.9 billion individuals still do not have access to the internet. According to UNICEF data, the bulk of this internet-less population lives in developing nations, and children remain affected by a lack of online access in local schools.
Through a joint venture with the International Telecommunication Union, a UNICEF-led effort is tackling this challenge in a creative manner, resulting in the development of Giga in 2019. At the Blockchain Expo in Amsterdam, Gerben Kijne, blockchain product manager at Giga, described the company's Project Connect effort. Giga has made significant progress in connecting schools in impoverished nations throughout the globe to the internet.
Project Connect was used to map schools and their interconnection as the initial stage in this process. Giga utilizes machine learning to locate schools on an open-source map by scanning satellite pictures. It has identified approximately 1.1 million schools in 49 countries so far, including connection data for one-third of these institutions.
After identifying a large number of schools in need of internet connectivity, the next step was to devise a new fundraising drive that drew on the worlds of blockchain, cryptocurrencies, and NFTs. Kijne discussed Giga's Patchwork Kingdoms idea with Cointelegraph following his keynote talk at the RAI Convention Centre in Amsterdam. With NFTs gaining popularity in recent years, Giga sought to capitalize on the trend by launching its own NFT-led fundraising attempt in March 2022.
Giga collaborated with Dutch artist Nadieh Bremer to release 1000 procedurally produced NFTs on the Ethereum network. The NFTs were created using Giga's school data to depict students with and without internet access. The NFT public auction earned around 240 ETH, worth $700,000, all of which went straight to connecting schools to the internet. Kijne admitted that the amount collected was secondary to the investigation of a new kind of charitable fundraising.
Kijne argues that NFTs may provide a more direct link to contributions, emphasizing its value in tracking the effect of donations via ownership of a particular school's NFT and monitoring when money received is "cashed in" to pay for internet connections. The NFT-based fundraising drive yielded several takeaways. Building a community before the launch, as Kijne noted, may have helped enhance support. While community members play a role, eager NFT investors are constantly around and searching for an opportunity to benefit from fresh launches.
Despite this, the initiative has been judged a success, and it presents an interesting use case for blockchain-based NFTs as a transparent, community-building fundraising method. In March 2022, the public auction sold out in three hours and raised $550,000. Secondary sales on OpenSea garnered an extra 20% of the money.
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