We believe that, to create a truly inclusive financial system, we must begin by serving those who need it most.
Globally, about one in every three adults do not have a bank account. As a simple consequence of this, they don’t have a straightforward means of receiving or storing value across distance, and therefore are excluded from a large part of the global economy. They don’t have a way of establishing assets or credit history on which to receive loans. They can’t receive remittances without a large processing fee. In this context, the simple ability to store and transmit small quantities of money with little overhead can have a transformative impact.
We believe that to create a truly inclusive financial system, we must start by building an infrastructure to serve those excluded from the current system. Further, we believe that if we are able do so, the resulting system will be more useful, more resilient, more full-featured, and more accessible for everybody.
Therefore, when we design our tools, we keep in the front of our mind the people who need them the most. This is our primary motivation
2. Innovating on Money
We recognize that the features of money, like the features of any widely used technology, have a considerable impact on society.
The primary features of society’s media of exchange have changed little since the Bank of Sweden and Bank of England started issuing notes in the late 1600’s. Our means of payment are, by and large, loaned into existence, national in nature, fractional reserve backed, and established by fiat. While this design has been and will continue to be useful for a large variety of transactions, it obscures a vast design space, some of which has been explored on the margins, including: time banks, mutual credit, local currencies backed by local goods, demurrage-charged currencies, natural-capital backed currencies, money gifted into existence through a basic income, and others.
We believe that many of these features have great potential for positive impact, and that we would be well-served to have a world in which the way value is stored and transmitted is more an ecology than a monoculture.
3. Striving for Beauty
We aim, as best we can, to create beauty.
There are two twin truths around which we orient our values and culture: that each person has a unique purpose, and that everyone is connected. We believe that a financial environment that supports both of these complementary truths -- that connects us to one another and supports each person in following their own path -- can help to create a more beautiful world. So, too, we believe that a working environment that supports these truths -- that fosters our intrinsic connectedness to one another, and gives focus to each person’s unique purpose through project choice and thoughtful reflection -- can help to create a more beautiful working community. Therefore, we strive to lean into these truths. More generally, we try, as much as possible, to create beauty in each of the little things we do.
4. Embodying Humility
We strive to think lightly of ourselves and deeply of the world.
To do any of the things we aim to do -- design for many people, innovate on the medium of exchange, strive to create beauty in the little things -- requires us to be humble, to be empathetic, to learn from our mistakes and others’ successes. Even more than audacity, doing anything meaningful requires humility.
Shared norms and behaviors are the foundation of a beautiful community. Please read and support the effort.
The Celo Ecosystem Fund is a Polychain-led venture, supported by founding investors Andreessen Horowitz and Celo, with the goal of investing in and developing the Celo ecosystem. The fund aims to foster Celo’s mission of creating a more accessible monetary system by making strategic, seed-stage deployments into tools and services which will leverage Celo’s protocol to build new financial infrastructure in the developing world.
“My grandparents were Mexican migrant farmers—I saw first hand how access to basic financial tools can save lives.”
Xochitl recently graduated from Stanford Graduate School of Business. Prior to Stanford, she was a Director at Cisco where she led expansion into 26 Emerging Markets. She is leveraging her background and expertise to explore Mexico as a potential launch country for Celo. Her key activities include country landscaping, user research, pilot scoping and implementation, analysis and final recommendations.
Pratyush Ranjan Tiwari
India | Engineering
“As part of my thesis, I explored how to successfully maintain user privacy as we move to decentralized financial systems.”
Pratyush wrote a technical paper describing an efficient Zero Knowledge Protocol and possible implementation libraries for
"I’ve spent my career running field operations under extreme financial circumstances.”
James applied his skills as a Fixer to organize comprehensive field research for the entire C Labs team, interviewing 20 Venezuelan migrants in Colombia. The ethnographic interviews focused in particular on individual perspectives on the prolific informal remittance market and the process of becoming unbanked in the transition from Venezuela to Colombia. This immersive learning experience was instrumental in increasing empathy and understanding with our end users.