Developed countries often take the ubiquity of the Internet for granted. But the truth is that about 2.9 billion people still lack access to the World Wide Web.
Data provided by UNICEF highlights that the majority of these people who lack the internet reside in underdeveloped countries, and children are still disadvantaged due to the lack of internet access in local schools.
A UNICEF-led initiative is addressing this dilemma in a new way through a joint project with the International Telecommunication Union, which led to the creation of Giga in 2019.
Gerben Kijne, Director of Blockchain Products at Giga, explained the company’s Project Connect initiative at the Blockchain Expo in Amsterdam. Giga has made great strides in connecting schools to the Internet in developing countries around the world.
Gerben Kijne talks about Giga’s Project Connect and the Patchwork Kingdoms NFT fundraising experience at the Blockchain Expo in Amsterdam.
The first step in this process was to plan and connect the schools through Project Connect. Giga uses machine learning to scan satellite imagery to locate schools on an open source map. To date, it has identified more than 1.1 million schools in 49 countries and contact data for a third of these schools.
After identifying a large number of schools that needed internet access, the next step in the process was to create a new fundraising initiative that tapped into the world of blockchain, cryptocurrencies, and non-perishable tokens (NFTs).
Speaking to Cointelegraph after his keynote address at the RAI Conference Center in Amsterdam, Kijne dismantled Giga’s Patchwork Kingdoms initiative. With NFTs on the rise in popularity over the past couple of years, Giga sought to make the most of this madness by experimenting with NFT-led fundraising in March 2022.
Giga has teamed up with Dutch artist Nadia Bremmer to launch a set of 1,000 procedurally generated NFTs minted on the Ethereum blockchain. The NFTs were produced using Giga School data to represent those with and without an internet connection.
The public sale of NFT raised about 240 ether (ETH) in total, worth $700,000, which went directly to connecting schools to the Internet. Kijne admitted that the value raised was secondary to exploring a different type of charitable fundraising.
“I think NFTs also provide a really interesting use case. One of the things we’re starting to look at is what does philanthropy look like for the next generation of people? Because if you go to UNICEF now and donate, I don’t even know what you’re going to get, maybe like” an email Thank you” or something.
Kijne believes that NFTs can provide a closer association with donations, highlighting their use to track the impact of donations through NFT ownership of a particular school and to monitor when money is “disbursed” to pay for online connectivity.
Many lessons have been learned from the NFT-based fundraising initiative. As Kijne explained, building a pre-launch community may have helped bolster support. As we’ve seen in the NFT space, community members play a role, but opportunistic NFT investors are always present and looking for an opportunity to cash in on new launches.
“I think quite a few people of that kind joined us, and they formed one of two camps. We have the people we were targeting, Giga supporters. A lot of them bought their first ever NFT. Then the other group is people who are thinking, ‘Oh, NFT for UNICEF!’ Let me do that. ”
Despite this fact, the project has been deemed successful and provides an interesting use case for blockchain-based NFTs as a transparent fundraising and community building method. The March 2022 public sale sold out in three hours and raised $550,000. The additional 20% of the money raised came from secondary sales at OpenSea.