Blockchain Startup Nets $2.4 Million in Public Funding to Fight Food Slavery
A new blockchain solution focused on ending slave labor in the food industry received $2.4 million in public funding in Australia.
Blockchain startup Lumachain has received $2.4 million in public funding from Main Sequence Ventures, a $165.6 million venture capital fund backed by the Australian government and the federal Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation.
Lumachain’s newly-received funds will go toward staffing fees as well as international expansion, according to a report by local financial news periodical the Australian Financial Review (AFR) on July 29. Lumachain reportedly uses blockchain technology to track and trace the condition and whereabouts of food products along the supply chain in real time.
According to Lumachain’s website, founder Jamila Gordon says the goal of her blockchain solution is to end modern slavery associated with food production. Gordon told the AFR:
"Slavery is becoming a major issue in supply chains, both here and overseas. Australia passed the Modern Slavery Act in 2018, and this is part of a global trend, where both enterprises and consumers want certainty that products have been ethically and sustainably sourced."
The Australian Council of Superannuation Investors reportedly identified the food sector as the third-most-likely industry to partake in modern slavery. Moreover, according to Gordon, the fresh food industry is largely un-digitized and is comparatively quite wasteful and inefficient.
Jamila Gordon and Lumachain
Jamila Gordon was reportedly forced into labor from the age of five in Somalia. Later, she moved to Australia and began a career with IBM. Gordon has also worked for the major airline Qantas as its top senior technology executive. Gordon reportedly has experience with implementing supply chains globally in Qantas and CIMIC with the current chief product officer of Lumachain, Tony White.
Lumachain also reportedly received support from the major tech company Microsoft, through its “start-up scale-up” initiative.
Blockchain and labor
Different companies and governmental organizations have begun using blockchain technology to fight unethical labor practices, including slavery, globally.
In April 2019, Princess Eugenie of the United Kingdom and United States anti-human trafficking Ambassador John Richmond came out in favor of using new technology like phone apps and blockchain to address human trafficking. Eugenie then said:
“I have learned about how blockchain is having a huge impact on supply chain management, and how an app in Britain can help the public report modern slavery at car washes.”
In March 2018, Coca-Cola, the United States State Department and three other firms launched a project to create a blockchain-based labor registry. The organizations hope the platform can address the problem of nearly 25 million people work under forced labor conditions globally.