1. Tell us more about what you do and how your role or project is making an impact. How do they support the SDGs?
I am the Co-founder and Chairman of Social Alpha Foundation (SAF), a not-for-profit, grant-making platform which focuses on supporting blockchain education and outreach to empower communities to utilize blockchain technology for social good. In this role, I work alongside our skilled vetting committee to award grants to individuals and projects that promote using blockchain as an agent for social change.
SAF is committed to acting on sustainability issues, and exploring the use of blockchain to address climate change, with its most recent grantee being Ivy League university and leading institution for climate change research Yale openlab, who will utilise the grant to build a decentralised carbon emissions tracking tool. The grant of US$150,000 will allow the Yale openlab — which develops and incubates open source and disruptive projects that seek to address our planet’s most pressing environmental challenges — to become the go-to institution for connecting blockchain technology and climate change solutions.
SAF also recently supported the Blockchain Trust Accelerator (BTA), a leading global platform that harnesses blockchain to solve social impact challenges. The BTA, which operates as a not-for-profit collaboration between Washington-based think tank New America, The Bitfury Group, and the National Democratic Institute with support from the Rockefeller Foundation, received a six-figure anchor grant from SAF to build its online curated registry for social impact projects called the Impact Ledger.
Cornell University, an Ivy League research university, and Tsinghua University, a member of the elite C9 League of Chinese universities, joined forces late last year to host the International Workshop on Blockchain in Xi’an, China, which was powered by a US$150,000 grant from SAF.
SAF also gives grants to non-commercial blockchain applications that focus on improving public health, education and the environment.
2. Why do you see Fintech and/or Blockchain in particular as an important enabler in creating a social impact?
After being introduced to the world of blockchain back in 2015, I became fascinated with the potential of this groundbreaking technology and how it could positively impact the world around me. One particular aspect of blockchain that I see as an important enabler in creating social change is the collaborative nature of the blockchain ecosystem across all industries but particularly when it comes to financial inclusivity, education, and healthcare.
3. What are some challenges you face along the way?
Blockchain is a young, often misunderstood technology, that is still very much in its infancy. While market fluctuations tend to dominate the headlines, our challenge lies in opening the eyes of others to see the potential this nascent technology can have on our approach to social care.
Although this is an ongoing challenge for us, leveraging the influence of early beneficiaries in the wider blockchain and crypto industry and enabling people to utilise the technology for social good is one way to achieve this.
4. What more do you think is needed in the ecosystem to support and facilitate creating a greater social impact?
SAF’s mission with all of its grants is to not only support meaningful social impact projects, but also to promote education within the blockchain sector. When selecting grantees, we measure the impact that they can have on an international scale, with an emphasis on real-world potential.
5. What do you hope to see or achieve in 10 years’ time?
The beginning of this year marked the tenth anniversary of the very first transaction involving bitcoin, and over the last decade, blockchain has completely rewritten the rules for how people connect without the need for a middleman.
While this technology is still in its infancy, over the next ten years I believe we will gradually witness blockchain seeping into the mainstream as it disrupts a myriad of industries from banking and finance, to healthcare, real estate, entertainment, and education.
From a SAF perspective, I am excited to play a part in the ongoing success of projects we have invested in who are committed to utilizing blockchain technology for social good. It is one thing to have an idea for a project with the potential to enact change, but for that idea to be implemented, tested, and to achieve success is a wonderful achievement!
This interview is part of a series of interviews featuring Fintech influencers who are doing work that advances our efforts in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.
LATTICE80, in collaboration with FinTech4Good, presents the complete list of Top 100 Fintech for SDG Influencers who are leveraging the power of fintech and blockchain technology to create a positive impact on the future. LATTICE80 is launching our accelerator programme based in Hong Kong to help SDG-focused startups build blockchain solutions. Are you a SDG-focused startup? Click here to indicate your interest.
Disclaimer: The interviews are published on a rolling basis and the order by which they are published by no means representative of any rankings.