Leveraging blockchain to find solutions with Mercy Corps Ventures

In Indonesia, Endah is a coffee farmer who received small business training from Mercy Corps.

JARRETT CARPENTER
Mercy Corps Crypto and Community Fundraising Manager

The next generation of the internet—Web3—is on the horizon and it has the potential of leveraging blockchain technology to positively impact the lives of many. Web3 intends to create a more transparent internet, where people around the globe will have more control over their own data and how they interact with one another. Built on blockchain technology, a transparent and decentralized and secure digital ledger, Web3 can shift power to individual users who will have greater access to services, data, and opportunities like financial services.

Due to conflict and climate change, more communities around the world are in need of humanitarian assistance. “As donors push for greater transparency, there’s going to be more of an argument around why blockchain can be beneficial for delivering and distributing humanitarian aid,” said Ken Kou, the Web3 Lead and Head of Pilots at Mercy Corps Ventures. Since 2015, Mercy Corps Ventures has supported more than 40 startups to scale and raised nearly $400 million in follow-on capital. As the investment arm of Mercy Corps, its portfolio is 49% female-founded and centers around resilience-building solutions in adaptive agriculture and food systems, inclusive fintech, and climate-smart technologies, so that those living in emerging markets can withstand disruption and plan for the future.

As Mercy Corps’ Crypto and Community Fundraising Manager, I welcome the opportunity to share ideas and talk about how Mercy Corps is using blockchain technology to create real change. I was excited to chat with Ken about his insights to how Mercy Corps Ventures is approaching its investments and the possibilities for Web3 to provide access to decentralized finance (DeFi) for communities who have been left behind by traditional financial institutions (TradFi). Ken also talks about the Crypto For Good Fund, an annual initiative implemented by Mercy Corps Ventures, which awards grants to startups looking to run impactful Web3 pilots. Since its launch in 2021, the Fund has supported numerous pilots including decentralized lending for smallholder farmers, tokenized savings for low-income groups, and bringing carbon credits on-chain to drive greater income for rural land stewards.

Listen to the conversation here.

Transcript of More than Blockchain, “Ken Kou on Leveraging Blockchain with Mercy Corps Ventures”

Jarrett Carpenter: Blockchain as a tech for real world challenges is often lost among the five-minute news cycle noise that tends to focus on blockchain only as the tech behind Bitcoin, cryptocurrencies, and/or NFTs. However, blockchain can be used to better our day-to-day lives and support communities around the globe to increase financial inclusion initiatives and climate resiliency efforts.

In this episode, I chat with Ken Kou about how Mercy Corps Ventures is leveraging blockchain to make real world positive impacts and create new opportunities for communities across the globe. I am Jarrett Carpenter and this is More Than Blockchain.

Ken, welcome to “More Than Blockchain.” How are you doing?

Ken Kou: I’m good Jarrett, thanks for having me. How are you?

Jarrett: I’m doing well and thanks for hopping on and actually I’m not entirely sure, are you in Europe? Where are you?

Ken: Yeah, I’m actually, I’m based in Sweden.

Jarrett: Okay, that’s what I thought. That’s what I told someone earlier because they were like… Because normally my morning routine: I get up, I get out of the house, I do some exercises, and they’re like, “Well, what are you doing?” My roommate’s like, “What are you doing?” And I’m like, “Well, I’m talking to a guy. I think he’s in Sweden and we’re going to talk about Web3.” So I don’t know if it gets more Web3 than that.

So, Ken, talk to me about Mercy Corps Ventures. Maybe you could actually talk about where Mercy Corps Ventures is today with blockchain and crypto and Web3. Can you just give a high level of what Mercy Corps Ventures is and kind of what their mandate is?

Ken: Glad to. So we are the impact investing arm of Mercy Corps. Mercy Corps, the global development agency, which operates in 40 countries around the world. Over 5,400 team members working side by side with people living through poverty, disaster, violent conflict, and the acute impacts of climate change.

Mercy Corps Ventures, what we do is we invest in and catalyze venture-led solutions to increase the resilience of underserved individuals in communities. We’ve been operational since 2015. To date, we’ve supported 42 early-stage ventures to scale and raised nearly $400 million in follow-on capital.

Our portfolio is 51% female-founded and it’s centered around resilience, building solutions and adaptive agriculture, frontier FinTech and climate smart systems, with the idea that trying to help people living in frontier markets to withstand disruption and plan for the future.

Jarrett: Okay, that was perfect. When you look back at the sectors that you just mentioned, I guess, let’s just jump right in now with where Mercy Corps Ventures is today. And we’re here to obviously talk about crypto blockchain, Web3. Start to add in where crypto and blockchain and Web3 play a role in those sectors where you’re really focused on, in frontier markets, emerging markets.

Ken: Yeah, so I think for us, in terms of like how we ended up getting into crypto, if you go back to the early days of crypto, dating back to Satoshi’s white paper there’s a lot of hope and hype around how crypto is going to help people in emerging markets and frontier markets. The idea of permissionless, stateless money, digital money that can be seamlessly sent between users regardless of domicile, nationality, borders, and inflation-resistance in hyperinflationary markets.

So there was a lot of promise, a lot of hope, but I think it’s fair to say that a lot of that hype hadn’t been realized or materialized in meaningful ways for these users. And so given the work that we do in financial inclusion, we felt that there were some solid use cases here, by leveraging Web3 crypto technology.

The idea that there are 1.4 billion people who are completely unbanked and excluded from the world economy, within this women are disproportionately excluded. You’ve got at least 700 million women who are unbanked. But then within that subset you do have 1.1 billion unbanked adults who do own a mobile phone and therefore could be reached with financial services.

So while understanding that there is a massive hype gap between what crypto can be used for or maybe like the use cases of crypto, we felt that there was an opportunity to demonstrate that there are some real world applications, which could help the lives of the unbanked. And then the other side of this is around the whole, the climate resilience piece.

And so thinking about it, as the ReFi space has gained traction over the past year, and given the work that we’ve been doing in Web3, as well as Mercy Corps’ focus on climate resilience, we’ve also naturally moved into this direction as well. And so, big picture here, 3.3 billion people whose daily lives are at risk and highly vulnerable to climate change. 130 million of these people are going to be pushed into poverty by climate change by 2030, and emerging markets are set to bear 75 to 80% of the cost of climate change. And so, there are opportunities and there’s an urgency to deploy new solutions, new technologies, to see how we can get ahead of this and help make people’s lives better before, before the acute impacts of climate change and financial exclusion are felt.

Jarrett: One of the things you’ve just said, I think, is something I hear a lot, which is like, “Does the current potential match the historical hype, essentially?” You’re talking about Satoshi’s white paper. If you read anything on the internet about crypto, if you know anyone in crypto, if you talk to you or I, and you’re probably not into crypto, [it sounds like] we’re going to sell [how] crypto can solve everything, or maybe not everything. Maybe that’s how it will sound, right? We know that that’s not the case and I’m constantly telling people that Web3 is a solution for some things, but not everything. There are a lot of organizations, and I had this quote the other day, but it was like there’s a lot of organizations that are so worried about how do they organize Web3 when they haven’t figured out like their email or MailChimp or other SaaS products that come from the Web2 world.

And you just dropped a lot of numbers there. And so 1.1 billion people who are part of, I think you said 1.5 billion people that are unbanked, but 1.1 of them have cell phones, which is great. And in the emerging markets you’re saying 130 million people are going to be pushed into poverty due to the climate changing as it is.

So what goes into your calculations, taking into account everything that you just said, which was a lot of data points, and thank you for sharing all those. Because I think that that helps kind of rough out the context of where Ventures fits in, in the impact investing space.

Ken: Yeah. So to your first point, I think it’s definitely true that the hype has not lived up to the expectations and all the discussion around it and I think that’s where we really feel there’s an opportunity here to demonstrate some real world applicability. And, to your question, just around maybe how these solutions come together.

There are certain prerequisites, right? And I think especially given the fact that we are part of a global development agency, we have a humanitarian lens in the work that we do. We’re not going to be supporting any shilling project, any crypto bros, things like that. That’s not the approach that we’re taking here. We’re looking at solutions that are solving meaningful problems for people, people who are otherwise unserved by the traditional financial institutions in their home country, or who are unduly exposed to the effects of climate change. These are the populations that we are aiming to serve and to support with the work that we do.

And when it’s appropriate, and I think this is probably the key thing, right? It’s when it’s appropriate and we think that blockchain, or broadly, Web3, crypto can actually be beneficial towards solving these problems. Then we’ll come in with that solution, right? But I think it does come back. We are being very thesis driven in terms of how we’re coming about this. We’re not going to say Web3 and crypto is going to save everything. That’s clearly not the case. I think there’s a huge amount of hubris in anyone who wants to declare such a thing. I think we know that there are going to be instances where it does make sense and I think it’s incumbent upon us to help identify and crystallize the use case there so that we can build and innovate solutions that’ll scale effectively to reach millions and millions of people.

Jarrett: I think the word you just said is super important in anyone who’s ever built anything. Even if you just think about a lemonade stand, people often use lemonade stands like a small business. The word you just said there, scaling that is where things fall apart. I constantly am thinking about when you get to the point of diminishing returns and then it’s like every input you put in is actually hurting you.

So, when you look at crypto currently in blockchain, are there certain solutions where you guys have kind of identified and said, “Wow, when it comes to scaling, if we use blockchain, it’s better”? And the reason why I’m asking is obviously out of pure curiosity, but also to probably show people that in certain use cases, blockchain can be better than other solutions that maybe we’ve had in the past. We could call them Web2 solutions, but non-blockchain solutions.

Ken: So there are few that I think within the use cases that we are prioritizing and maybe the thematic areas that we’ve been thinking more about. So I’ll start with one, which is inclusive financial services for unbanked populations.

And so this goes back to that number of 1.45 billion people who are unbanked and roughly say about 39% of adults in low-income countries have access to financial services. Now, with decentralized finance, DeFi, everything that’s been building over the past two, three years, I think we’re finding some real world use cases or applicability where crypto can actually be deployed in emerging markets to help solve this financial exclusion gap.

One example is the idea of how can you build access to credit for otherwise financially-excluded populations? So we’ve been looking at this from the perspective of micro and small entrepreneurs or MSEs. So, the idea is that the data shows that the finance gap for small businesses in emerging markets is about 5 trillion. So the reason why blockchains become quite effective in terms of serving this problem or helping to close this gap, is that smart contracts help you to facilitate instant settlement and they also have an escrow service in it as well. So therefore, DeFi lending can actually be a much more cost effective way to serve these higher risk market segments.

And so you can leverage DeFi and smart contracts, you can tap into global north liquidity pools. So you’re talking about anyone who has a MetaMask or a Goldfinch or a Maple account. They can put some of their capital on there in the form of stablecoin. Then that money can be deployed and lent out to a borrower in the global south.

And therefore, you’ve now unlocked the lifeline for these, let’s say, underserved MSEs. And so we’ve run a few lending pilots specifically with food vendors and smallholder farmers, which allows them to access affordable credit for the first time in their lives. One of the pilots that we ran in Kenya was with smallholder farmers. This was the first time that any of them had received credit for 96% of the pilot group. And this was something that we were able to make available at 8% APR, which is less than half of the interest rate that is commonly available by, say, FinTech lenders in these markets. And the reason why we’re able to do this is because we are taking advantage of a market arbitrage opportunity where people in the global north, up until say like three months ago, didn’t really have access to high yielding opportunities because of zero interest rate policies. We were able to provide them with something that was yielding much higher than what they would get in, say, North America or Europe. But, then what was still much more affordable for your average borrower in Kenya in this case, or other parts of Africa as well.

Jarrett: So that’s a really great point. I’m glad that you went there because I was having a conversation recently with a Colombian friend and she works for a bank in Colombia. We were talking about access to credit, and I think that this is a really good conversation to have for people that are especially in probably Europe and North America, or when I say North America, I’m going to exclude Mexico in this, unfortunately. But focusing on the United States and Canada, because in the United States access to credit is just something that people take for granted. You can just go to a department store and I’m going to go buy some jeans. Ken, you know, like Macy’s will be like, “Oh, do you want to open a credit card, sir?”

And I sign a couple pieces of paper and all of a sudden I get 20% off. [The credit card] will show up in my house in three days and the rest of the world does not work like that. So, when we talk about your access to credit here, and you’re saying in Kenya they got 8% as opposed to probably 16%. If you said it was double. I want to just drop this stat cause I think it’s a really important stat for people to understand. In Colombia, I was talking to my friend who works at the bank. Right now, and this may, I’m hoping that if you hear this, it should shock you. Right now on credit cards in Colombia, the APR, in the United States is probably 20 to 25%, it’s 46% because they’re trying to tamp down inflation. So, this is just a Colombian example, but you have 46% on credit cards and the peso has lost about 20 to 23% of its value in the past nine months. So, not only are you in a hyperinflation situation, but you also have basically a 50% APR for all intents and purposes, which is something that most people are just not going to be able to get out of. So offering a DeFi solution, like you’re saying with smart contracts, that’s an amazing solution for so many people who, as you’ve said, which I think you said 96% of the people who received this credit had never received formal credit from the “TradFi” [traditional financial] banking system before. So, I love that example.

And, sticking with kind of where we are right now in 2023, what are some of the things that Mercy Corps Ventures is focused on this year when it comes to blockchain? What are the opportunities? Because I feel like there’s always buzz every year. It’s like a new flashy object with blockchain, you know? So, where are you guys focused right now? Is it in the flashy object sector, or is there something that Mercy Corps Ventures is doing differently than other organizations?

Ken: I think we’ve been successful in avoiding a lot of the flashy objects. I hope, at least from a professional perspective. I think maybe personal investments have been less successful from that side.

But I would say that for Mercy Corps Ventures, what we’ve been thinking about from a crypto perspective is that as the sector continues to mature and as our own thesis sharpens, certain use cases do rise to the top, right? We do see that there are areas where we feel there’s much more promise for how crypto can be deployed and how it’s going to make a positive impact on underserved users’ lives.

And so one thing that we are openly and actively sourcing for are proposals from partners that are in these priority areas: access to credit for underbanked users, what I was just describing, nature-based solutions for climate resilience, humanitarian aid delivery, and transparent supply chains. I think thematically, those are areas where we have based off the research that we’ve been doing, our experience running pilots over the past two years, feedback from different partners in the ecosystem that we’ve been working with. We have confidence that those are some of the more promising use cases of crypto, so we’re eager to launch more solutions where appropriate for underserved users and emerging markets there. And with each of the proposals, each of the pilots that we do run, the core criteria that we do look for is that they are innovative. “Is this an innovative use of the technology?” This is something that’s new and going to be value adding for the ecosystem. We make sure that it’s impactful. Are we serving target demographics who are otherwise underserved and making sure that they’re going to get some benefit out of this? And then is the solution scalable? And so the idea that after a pilot, we want to make sure that this can become a standalone, larger initiative. And, so that’s how we’ve been approaching a lot of the work that we’re doing with crypto.

When it comes to piloting, we’ve wrapped all this up into a larger vehicle. We call it the Crypto For Good Fund. And so last year we ran the first iteration of the Crypto For Good Fund. We received 200 proposals from 50 different countries around the world. And we ended up, we’ve announced three of the winners from that initial fund exercise. This year just a few weeks ago, we’ve opened up the second round of the Crypto For Good Fund. And so we’re looking for pilot partners all around the globe who are working on those priority areas and more with focus on emerging markets for underserved users.

Jarrett: Of those four, I believe they’re four priority areas, which one do you think is the one that’s going to start to take up a lot more market share and a lot more of your investment time and kind of analysis? Because the story in my head is it’s going to be impossible that they say 25%, 25%, 25%, 25%. Which one of those do you think in five years is going to be, if we’re going to think of the Pareto principle here, going to be taking 80% of the investment portfolio?

Ken: I think each of these four, and this is probably a cop out, but I would say that each of these four is going to have significant growth. Just talking about like climate smart solutions as a start. There’s expected to be $23 trillion climate smart investment opportunities by 2030 into frontier markets alone. So you can think of that as just like solving nature-based solutions, or climate resilience, and of course a subset of that, but you are going to have massive opportunity there. You see the average price of the carbon credit has doubled in the past year. Demand for it has also gone up, I believe, [400%]. There’s huge demand and huge need for these solutions. So you’re going to see that these are going to crop up and it’s going to take up more and more of the airtime. Access to credit for underbanked users, this is something that is going to get trickier now that we’re in a higher interest rate environment. But this is still a very critical engine for growth. And as development finance institutions move away from grant models and try to find maybe more blended finance solutions, you’re going to see more players entering this space. You’re going to see a greater need for innovative solutions for solving this. And so you have a massive need. I think it was a $5 trillion funding gap is what I mentioned earlier. That’s just like right now alone for MSEs in emerging markets. So broadly speaking, that’s going to be a huge opportunity there.

Whoever can actually meaningfully take a chunk of that, you’re going to see a lot of big winners there. Humanitarian aid delivery, like we were just talking about the number of people on the move, [internally displaced people] or refugees, is increasing. Unfortunately, you have more people being pushed out of their homes because of the effects of climate change and unfortunately, conflict is rising around the world. You’re going to have more people who need humanitarian aid, which is why organizations like Mercy Corps exist. And I think, as donors push for greater transparency, there’s going to be more of an argument around why blockchain can be beneficial for delivering and distributing humanitarian aid.

So again, you’re going to see this thing grow quite quickly as well. Lastly, on the transparent supply chains, I think, is probably one of the first big proposed use cases around blockchain. If you go back 5, 8, 10 years, the fact that you have a decentralized ledger with a shared consensus mechanism, this was supposed to be how the supply chain of the future was going to work so that you could make sure that you had full transparency.

You could make sure that fair trade was really fair that people at the farmers and the traders at the base of the supply chain were actually getting a living wage out of it. I think in practice we have not seen this materialized still. And so if we can get a few major industries behind this, whether it’s food or fashion and get them to start investing in public solutions, that will help to move the needle and then you’ll end up having a much more fair economy. I could see how transparent supply chains will actually benefit this a lot. So again, it’s a cop out, but I do think that there’s massive growth potential in all of these areas, and especially as it comes to how Web3 can be beneficial or additive.

Jarrett: It’s interesting that you mentioned the supply chains because one of my biggest holdings, and I’ll just say this, is VeChain. They’re one of the top cryptocurrencies as far as market cap and they’re trying to be the solution for transparent efficient supply chains in the world. I know that they already have agreements or partnerships with Walmart in China, but we’ll see if that comes across the ocean to the United States and to other markets.

Looking ahead, we’ve kind of talked about the four sectors of focus for Mercy Corps Ventures. For you, looking ahead, where is Mercy Corps Ventures going to go with crypto and blockchain? And I guess, actually this is a question I should have asked earlier, but of the entire portfolio that you’re currently investing in, how many of those solutions are actually crypto and blockchain? Because there could be other solutions that are also “techy,” they could be AI, could be machine learning, it could be a whole host of other things that we’re starting to see roll out. How much of the portfolio right now is focused around crypto and blockchain? Do you think that that will increase or kind of stay the same as other innovations like AI, for example, are really starting to become more front and center for people both on the individual level, whether it’s ChatGPT, or on a greater level, if we look at self-driving cars?

Ken: Our portfolio consists of about 40 companies right now. I believe of those 40, six are Web3 natives, so say about 15% of the portfolio. I think that we’ll probably have more Web3 companies joining the portfolio. I think that’s clearly an area of opportunity and of growth, especially as it comes to builder interests in emerging markets. Whether that’s going to grow faster than other domain areas, we’re looking into e-mobility as an example, we’re looking more into supply chains as well, like whether that’s going to grow faster than, than those spaces.

I don’t have a clear answer for you yet. Probably best to speak with our investment leads on that topic. But I do think that Web3 is here to stay and I think it’s just a matter of figuring out what are those right use cases and then identifying the builders who are leveraging that technology in the best way.

Jarrett: I couldn’t agree more. I don’t think crypto or Web3 is going anywhere. I think it’s going to continue to, to be invested into. And one of the things that you said earlier in a comment, you said we’re in this high inflation environment and we’re in this high interest environment. As governments and the world tries to basically tamp down inflation, we’re trying to slow the velocity of money, so we’re increasing how expensive it is for people basically to get debt or credit. How does the macro impact you guys that are on the ground, kind of in the micro? So I guess my question is, are you guys on calls like, “Wow, the Fed’s going to keep raising rates. How is that going to impact some of the stuff we’re trying to do?”

Ken: Yeah, there’s no denying this, as interest rates go up, risk appetites go down. From a funder perspective, from an investor perspective, you start flocking towards safer havens, safer assets. Impact investing in emerging markets is one of the riskier assets classes that you can find. And so I think a lot of the founders and builders that we work with, they’re feeling the heat. They’re feeling the crunch here when it comes to much longer timeframes to fundraise, much harder to get in front of the right investors. Investors are slower to deploy and kind of holding back on their capital so you have more down rounds or you just have rounds that aren’t really closing. My hat’s off to all the builders who are trucking through this because I think this has got to be an incredibly challenging time to be an entrepreneur.

But as they say, bear markets are for builders. I think the companies that are going to come out of this period are going to be resilient and they’re going to be future-proofed and willing to, or ready to, tackle the next challenges head on. And that’s part of our commitment as well as a, as a fund and as a team, that we are going to continue to deploy. We’re going to continue to support entrepreneurs. With the Crypto for Good Fund too, that we just launched, we’re still putting our money out there. We’re still trying to find values-aligned builders who are launching the right technology, launching the right solutions, to help close some of these intractable problems that we as an organization have been intent on solving. While the overall landscape is certainly more bearish than it was a year ago. I think you still have committed builders and entrepreneurs who are out there on the frontlines really trying to serve, solve these problems. And hopefully you have a sufficient funding founder interest to help grease the wheels so that growth can continue to happen.

Jarrett: One of the biggest projects that I see that’s making a lot of moves in this bear market, as you said, bear markets for builders, is Polygon. Every month they do something. Then I’m like, “Wow. Okay guys, we know you’re not going anywhere.” And so Mercy Corps Ventures, you guys just recently locked down a partnership with them. Do you want to speak on that a little bit? Because I think that that’s huge for Mercy Corps Ventures and obviously for Polygon.

Ken: Yeah, of course! We’re really excited and I am grateful for this partnership. Polygon Labs, the team behind the Polygon ecosystem, we’ve entered a partnership with them and through this partnership there’s going to be three pillars that we work on.

One is funding blockchain pilots, and these pilots are going to be focused on people who are excluded from the traditional financial system. So what we were talking about earlier with the focus on underserved communities and emerging markets. Then on top of that we’re going to be having a series of blockchain hackathons. This is going to be for developers building solutions specifically for emerging market users. And so the idea here being that a lot of what’s happening in the crypto world is still, of course, global north focused. And so how do we put the right incentives and the right systems in place to have solutions built by the local community for users in that community? Because nobody knows those problems better than people who are living those day-to-day. And then lastly, the third pillar there is around, running a blockchain bootcamp roadshow. And so this is going to be an educational and informational work that’s going to be focused on local educational institutions, NGOs, and any other organizations who are looking to improve the way that they work through blockchain technology.

We’re really excited to be working with Polygon on this and look forward to what we can do together over the coming year.

Jarrett: Yeah, that’s super exciting. When I saw it on LinkedIn, I was like, “Wow, that’s huge.” It’s a really big partnership. Congrats to Mercy Corps Ventures for making that. And I think those three initiative areas are beautiful and they’re going to hopefully help to continue to build the ecosystem in the right way.

Looking at the Crypto for Good Fund, because you’ve just launched that, do you want to speak a little bit about that? I feel like I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t ask you to speak a little bit about what that looks like and how people can get into it. Because I think that they still have time, I believe. The application window is still open even when this comes out, which will be in a couple days, mid-March, if you want to talk about that, that would, that would be beautiful.

Ken: Yeah, of course. So, the genesis behind this is that we’ve been running pilots for over two years when it comes to Web3. Originally a lot of our deal flow, if you’ll call it that, was coming from within our portfolio companies and it was coming from our network. And the challenge that we had faced there was that because it’s only things within your bubble, you end up not getting the greatest diversity of ideas. And so what we decided to do, and also in the spirit of Web3, is we wanted to decentralize this process a bit more. And so what that resulted in was the first Crypto For Good Fund that we launched last March.

And so, as I mentioned, we had about 200 applicants from around the world. We felt that this became a way for us to democratize access to grant funding for builders. And that was something that was really important to us, especially just given like the values and ethos that we try to maintain. And so with the second round of it, we’re doing the same thing. We’re targeting impact-driven entrepreneurs and tech-focused startups with a preference for gender balanced and locally-led teams. On top of that, in terms of what we’re looking for, it’s startups who are building innovative Web3 solutions that have the massive potential to reach scale with blockchain technology. It’s going to be solutions for financially underserved populations in frontier economies, specifically Asia, Africa, Latin America. And then in terms of the one big thing that I do want to note is the impact focus. This is again because we are an impact investor, because we are part of Mercy Corps.

We have very strong roots in building and generating social impact. And that’s the same that goes for the Crypto For Good Fund. With this opportunity, we’re focusing on financial and climate resilience. The populations that we’re trying to serve are smallholder farmers, refugees and migrants, unemployed youth, informal workers, women, micro-entrepreneurs. These are groups that are typically underserved or neglected by traditional systems. And we want to make sure that these communities and populations are put at the front and center of any solution, especially taking a human-centered design approach to make sure that what’s being built is going to be tailored towards the problems that they face.

And then the last thing that I want to flag for the fund is that we’re looking for proposals that have a very clear learning agenda. The reason why we run these pilots is because we do want to build an evidence base and increase the body of knowledge of how crypto can be used for good in the wider community. To achieve this, each of our pilots have predefined learning objectives, which we co-design with our pilot partners. And we also have a set of impact KPIs. These KPIs help us to measure and ensure the effect of the pilot, is what we’re hoping for and it’s leaving a positive impact for the communities that we serve.

Transcript has been edited slightly for clarity and length.

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