On 15 November 2016, the UNICEF Innovation Fund announces its first portfolio of investments in open source technology solutions – 9Needs – Connected Development is among the first five companies to receive investment.

The UNICEF Innovation Fund invests in technology start-ups from developing markets that are working on open source solutions to improve children’s lives. The Innovation Fund applies a venture capital approach to source solutions in  emergency and epidemic response, transport & delivery, identity, finance, learning, personal data and related fields.

Check out www.unicefinnovationfund.org for more information – including real-time data – on each investment.

9needs

9Needs – Connected Development: Building Amply, a web of trust for children

By Dr. Shaun Conway, Paul Kohlhaas, Lohan Spies

How would you describe your solution to a child?

Imagine that, as a child, you are not allowed to play a game because you can’t prove who you are. Millions of children face this every day. But it is not a game: It is the difference between being left out of the chance to learn, develop and be healthy – or to be included in life’s opportunities.

Amply is changing this by giving every child a digital identity that proves who they are. With Amply, children can access benefits that they are entitled to receive. For instance, Amply is enabling children in South Africa to get subsidised pre-school education, by proving that they exist and that they are attending class. This is a simple, but important start to greater possibilities.

What is unique about your solution?

Amply is designed to store a child’s digital identity and personal information, privately – in a way that is ‘self-sovereign’ and directly beneficial to them. Over time, their records become a rich source of data and value that can be used to receive services. Their gathered data will also generate  insights to tailor the service to be more predictive, precise, personalised, preventive, and participatory. Due to Amply’s flexibility, one can create an entirely new kind of services which can be  delivered locally or virtually.

Tell us about your company culture and the story about how your team came together.

The team has grown through remarkable people who support the mission and values we believe in. We have an open, innovative and inclusive way of working with partners, collaborators, clients and funders. We are passionate about putting our ideas into practice embarking on a plan to transition 9Needs into a full venture production studio  that will be rebranded as TrustLab. This studio will focus on building skills, partnerships and user interfaces for implementing global solutions.

 

How does your solution help accelerate results and improve the lives of the world’s most vulnerable children? How did you come up with your solution?

Amply will provide the tools to deliver digital (or high definition) services that are information-driven. This has two important dimensions:

First, we ensure that information is high-resolution. This means registering information on to a distributed ledger (like the blockchain that underlies bitcoin) so that this information is permanent and indelible.  This data can then be accessed through a unique key (or password) at a later time.

Secondly, we then ensure that all data collection, processing, and reporting  is high fidelity. This means it has extra layers of information and context around it, which it wouldn’t have if it was collected on paper and being entered into Excel.  This digital data has metadata (time and date of collection, etc.) and is uniquely “stamped” with a proof  that it comes from a specific origin.  The data also has built in “error checking” – so that it is easy for an external authority to check its validity, without necessarily knowing what the data itself contains.  This is similar to a wax-stamped envelope –  the “seal” of the kingdom guarantees the authenticity and provenance of the contents, without revealing the content.  

By encrypting the data and storing all personally identifiable information within an individual’s own personal data store, a detailed record can be built up over time for each person.

How will the investment from UNICEF’s Innovation Fund help you?

The investment from the UNICEF Innovation Fund will help improve Amply’s data analytics, reporting, and information management capabilities for early childhood development. These improvements will be crucial for scaling-up the application platform in South Africa It will also enable us to share Amply’s platform with international partners,other regions and also to adapt this to new use-cases that could benefit children in other parts of the world.


Looking for seed funding for your open source tech startup? Check out www.unicefinnovationfund.org to find out more about the process and to make a submission by 1 Jan 2017. 

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