BerChain team won as this year’s “Scaling Wildlife Protection” solution at the Odyssey Hackathon, taking them one step closer to their mission of making Berlin Europe’s blockchain capital. Their solution features a holistic infrastructure to capture the interests of locals, the natural environment, and CSR efforts.
For the last half-century, the second largest rainforest in the world has been suffering the death of a thousand cuts. An impressive archipelago of over 18,000 islands, Indonesia has lost 80% of its natural environment– 74 million hectares, or the size of two unified Germanies. One of the major challenges for hackers at the Odyssey Hackathon this year was to find a way to heal these trees of their wounds.
The Masarang Foundation partnered with the Prince Bernhard Nature Fund, Odyssey, and Ocean Protocol to scale and open-source their framework to promote rainforest regeneration. Factory Berlin Blockchain Circle members and Team BerChain, co-founded by Daud Zulfacar, were the official representatives of the global blockchain community from Berlin. After a long ride to Odyssey Hackathon, his team co-created an innovative solution to integrate stakeholders from the local, social, environmental, and corporates to provide more transparency, gain trust, and incorporate real-time tracking to gain accountability and manage the impact.
How did you prepare for the hackathon?
We had a few meetings at Factory Berlin and used Slack to help us align, share documents, and our ideas. What we pursued at Odyssey we devised on our road trip to the event. Over the course of 7 hours, we talked a lot of trash, had fun, and were able to bond as a team. We set our priorities straight: the most important goals were to build up our networks, to learn from participating in a massive hackathon, and to have fun.
What problem did you have to solve?
Our teams’ challenge was to co-create a digital and scalable infrastructure for regenerative ecosystems, aligning the interests of locals, the environment, and endangered species. We live in a society of information overflow and while NGOs try to make an impact, the only thing they can really do in order to gain capital for impact is to invest money into branding and marketing to grow their voice and become more visible. However, these extra costs should actually be allocated towards the cause.
To get at the heart of the issue you have to understand that NGOs are funded by three main sources: government, private individual donors, and corporates. Of these, we decided to concentrate on corporates and link them to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), to empower corporates to see the cause and effect of their donations. Since corporates are very KPI driven, we research old data and set validation standards, secured by the blockchain. The NGO can use this information as a marketing tool to get more donations from corporates. On the other hand, corporates can also use it for audits, saving them even more money. Overall, it makes CSR models more transparent, easy, and traceable. Everything is there, all the data is there, the willingness is there. It just needs to be put together by someone– and that someone is us.
How did you make sure the KPIs were on target?
We borrowed from the experts for that! Behind the 17 SDGs are already 169 KPIs. Other data that could be added to support this information would be measurements from the NGO itself to assess biodiversity, local household incomes, etc.
How does this improve the efficiency of NGOs?
Small NGOs almost never have a chance to tap into the donation pool of large NGO bases. Our approach goes directly to corporates so they need to come up with ways to be more effective. Every NGO has this issue, with some buying into trust certificates of up to 60K USD a year just for a stamp of credibility. By devising KPIs for corporates, we educate NGOs to change their operations for attracting CSR funds. Many NGOs do great work but do not know how to navigate corporate waters. It’s a whole different world and even language.
What about trust?
Well, NGOs always face the challenge of proving themselves as trustworthy. It’s ironic, there is so much information available, yet at the same time there is not high enough visibility on actual impact. They also lack the capital, tools, means, and resources to improve their marketing to attract funds, so they buy a certificate.
Our solution provides NGOs with a badge that can be published on websites and social media to present the amount of actual impact tied to a validated score based on SDG principles. It is a direct way to give, track, and make checks for CSR programs. On the other hand, it provides more accessibility for smaller NGOs and dashboards can be enhanced with more information for education purposes to attract more donors.
What did you learn from this experience?
Since our printer broke, I had to learn how to draw really quickly! More importantly, I learned to listen more, which is super important for a team. At the start, there was a certain idea in our heads, but because of listening, it turned into something totally different. That was a moment! Everyone trusted each other and could say anything that they wanted to. They could really contribute their best that way because they felt included. If we meet experts, maybe we’ll discover our idea isn’t that strong and pivot it. Either way, we have to listen and learn.
The two crises of climate change and trust have spread a rather strong skepticism, especially given the transformations that NGOs have undergone in size, professionalism, and political significance over the past few decades. While the accountability agenda of both NGOs and CSR programs have stressed transparency and oversight, leading to significant gains to salvage the cuts, until recently, the causal link between the implementation and standards have never been fully aligned, nor openly traceable. The solution put forth by the BerChain team revives and rebuilds trust for both NGOs and corporate programs, that reflects the important economic, environmental, and social characteristics of a regenerative and inclusive ecosystem deemed global goals by the UN. Team BerChain’s innovative system is a badge of honor that necessarily improves agency, builds a healthier model of trust between donors and NGOs, and that essentially assimilates goals into the brave new blockchain.