Since its inception in 1946, UNICEF has been working tirelessly to improve the lives of children across the globe. Whether by distributing food and clean water, providing medical care and vaccines or lobbying for the rights of children and their families, this particular UN program has blossomed into a leading humanitarian organization with a strong presence in more than 190 countries.
Most recently, UNICEF has added innovation to its agenda, stating that challenges like climate change, sub-par education systems and an increasing digital divide have made it even more difficult for children in developing countries to thrive. With these things in mind, the organization has claimed that, "The biggest change that we need to foster, and that is happening already in some places, is the push to get connectivity (access to information, opportunity, and choice) to the world's most marginalized populations."
One way it's doing so is through the UNICEF Innovation Fund. The Fund, a recent addition to the organization's award-winning Innovation Unit, is designed to raise investments and provide financial support to tech startups working in areas such as: wearables, 3D printing, renewable energy, computer software and others.
Successful projects so far include products like RapidFTR - a mobile app designed to help separated family members reunite in the event of an emergency by providing humanitarian workers with a place to collect, organize and share data related to unaccompanied minors- and MobiStation- a solar-powered, portable multimedia kit equipped with laptop, projector, speakers and more that can be easily transported and powered to provide different learning material to community members almost anywhere.
To date, the Fund has raised more than $9 million and has helped to provide these developing countries with a growing number of technology solutions. As of February 1st, 2016, UNICEF is looking for companies to respond to its Expression of Interest "for open source technology solutions for children." Click here to learn more.