The Celo Foundation, a kind of competitor to Facebook’s Libra Foundation, awarded its first grants on Tuesday. The foundation gave $700,000 to 13 projects that help expand use of the platform.
“The Celo Foundation Grants Program is designed to support projects that are committed to building a financial system that creates the conditions of prosperity for everyone,” the foundation said in a blog announcement. “Especially in the time of crisis, we all have the opportunity to impact communities in need and get them the relief that they urgently need.”
Grants went to three types of projects: those creating tools that expand access for needy communities, those educating the Celo community, and those strengthening the Celo platform. Several of the recipients, including Gitcoin, are members of Celo’s Alliance for Prosperity, a network looking to leverage the upcoming Celo stablecoin to foster financial inclusion.
One grant recipient was eSolidar, a platform that supports charities through shops, auctions, donations, and volunteering. The platform is currently waiving fees for NGOs that fundraise initiatives to fight the Covid-19 pandemic. SaldoMX, a peer-to-peer platform which helps migrant workers abroad pay for their families’ bills directly in Mexico, also received a grant.
Xochitl Cazador, Head of Ecosystem Growth at cLabs (a development wing of Celo) told Decrypt she’s especially excited about Saldo MX because as the grandchild of Mexican migrant farmers, she knows firsthand the struggles vulnerable populations face.
“I come from a traditional working-class background and have had many family members who have lost their jobs due to the Covid crisis,” Cazador said. “These are individuals who are separated from their families, and working in the fields to provide food to families across the US while we shelter in place—many of whom struggle to have access to basic financial tools and services.”
Cazador hopes projects like SaldoMX and Love Crypto, a platform by Brazilian graduate students that will allow users to earn micropayments for performing tasks, will “help provide a source of income to individuals who have lost their jobs as a result of Covid-19.”
The grants by Celo are just the first wave. The foundation hopes to attract more participants to join its community. Cazador said Celo is still looking for projects that “make crypto more usable and accessible to people who are excluded from the financial system,” strengthen and build the Celo protocol, and/or help educate the community at large. The foundation said it will keep grant submissions open until mid-May.
Celo is currently testing how its protocol will bridge all the different projects together through stablecoins and over 400 validators.