OmiseGO, Buterin Donate $1M to Refugees Using GiveDirectly

In late March 2018, decentralized payment provider OmiseGO and Ethereum founder Vitalik Buterin teamed up with the nonprofit GiveDirectly to send $1 million to refugee families in Uganda. More than 12,000 households will benefit from this donation, which will be exchanged from the OMG ERC20 tokens into local currency.

“OmiseGO, with an additional generous contribution from Ethereum founder Vitalik Buterin, is donating the equivalent of $1 million USD in OMG tokens directly to refugees living in extreme poverty, and GiveDirectly will deliver those funds,” OmiseGO founder Jun Hasegawa wrote in a blog post, adding that as successful members of the growing crypto-economy, they “see an exciting opportunity to share that wealth.”

How GiveDirectly Works

Providing unconditional cash transfers directly to people dealing with significant poverty is GiveDirectly’s central mission. They have raised over $200 million since 2013 towards this end. GiveDirectly conducts field research before enrolling individuals in its programs and provides a live feed featuring the recipients on its site. GiveDirectly also offers extensive research on its site explaining how direct cash donations both benefit those in poverty and are usually well-spent.

This group states that 88.4 percent of its donations go directly to recipients. To learn more about how charities typically spend money, the watchdog site Charity Watch from the American Institute of Philanthropy is a useful resource. Their top-rated groups “generally spend 75 percent or more of their budgets on programs,” among other factors.

Why This Collaboration Makes Sense

GiveDirectly’s work aligns with several of OmiseGO and Buterin’s goals. OmiseGO is an Ethereum-based, decentralized and disintermediated network that offers self-sovereign and peer-to-peer financial transactions. It can be of particular use to those in developing countries who do not have reliable and equitable access to banking infrastructure. It’s “financial tools do not require users to go through centralized networks, which often put up barriers and impose unnecessary costs,” Jun said.

“Refugees are a perfect population to serve through this effort … We’re excited to plug them back in, transfer funds, and let them get to work,” Jun said of the recent $1 million joint donation.  

Vitalik has often called on members of the digital money-community to find meaningful uses for blockchain and cryptocurrencies, rather than just trying to accumulate wealth. He walks the walk as well – in February 2018 he gave $2.4 million to the SENS Research Foundation, a nonprofit addressing age-related disease.

Featured photo credit: CC via UNMISS on Flickr

Julia Travers

Julia Travers is a writer. Her work appears with NPR, Earth Island Journal, Discover Magazine, On Being and SciArt Magazine, among other publications. She's on Twitter @traversjul.

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