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Oxfam empowering communities

Oxfam Australia works with vulnerable and marginalised communities across the world to tackle poverty and injustice. They believe all lives are equal and no-one should live in poverty.

Oxfam are on the ground, working with and empowering communities to tackle poverty championing innovative approaches to solving problems of inequality.
An example is Oxfam’s recent move to join forces with 17 local and international partners to scale the UnBlocked Cash project, which began in Vanuatu. The plan is to take the  blockchain-based cash and voucher assistance solution global.

When disasters strike, cash is often the most practical way to help affected communities. The project provides a single payment platform that delivers swift cash assistance to those in need, and also boosts the local economy in the wake of disaster. Powered by Aussie fintech Sempo, UnBlocked Cash brings aid into the 21st Century. It saves the cost of distributing aid by up to 75%, cuts delivery times by more than 90%, and brings more transparency in the process. 

“We are changing the existing approach of delivering aid,” says Oxfam’s Sandra Uwantege Hart, who designed the project.  

“The platform allows for seamless coordination of resources, which in many places — like Vanuatu — remain untapped. Now, we are able to expand our cash assistance capabilities with multiple partners including, among others, World Vision and the Government of Vanuatu.” 

UnBlocked Cash empowers the beneficiary communities and local shops in their own economic recovery. Participating vendors receive smartphones with a pre-installed Sempo payments app and are trained in basic digital skills. Enrolled households receive e-cards, which can be tapped on vendor phones to pay for goods. 

The unique feature of the program design is a vendor-to-vendor cash-out, where vendors can exchange their digital tokens into a local flat currency between themselves, or purchase goods from each other without any intermediaries. NGOs like Oxfam can monitor transactions remotely and in real-time via an online platform. 

Participating vendor Priscilla Tabe says: "I'm glad to join the program. I think it will benefit local businesses as well as people in the communities because they can choose what they want. It's very interesting seeing how technology can be used to provide assistance to people at the grassroot level." 

The innovative use of digital currency ushers in a new era of digital financial inclusion and access in Vanuatu, where most people don’t have access to bricks-and-mortar banking services. 

For more information about Oxfam, visit their website.
This organisation is supported by trusts managed by Equity Trustees.