Oct 5, 2023
The following article was written by Leah Alger for Bitcolumnist and NFT Lately. You can read the original source here:
The NFT realm is well-versed with innovative projects, but only some utilize Web3 technology with meaningful outreach. Meaning ‘unity,’ Umoja NFTs support the aspirations of orphans in Uganda with the proceeds made from its digital art visuals.
We were lucky enough to speak to the brain behind this project, Tiffany Stewart, who spoke out about the vision, mission, and measures that creatively assist those in need. So, join us as we delve into Umoja’s matchless union of artistry and humanity.
First and foremost, please tell us about Umoja NFTs:
Umoja, meaning ‘unity,’ was born at the intersection of Web3 and philanthropy. Each of our dreamlike generative collectibles not only provides utility in the physical world through direct impact humanitarian efforts, but was dreamt up by the real humans we support.
Through our partnership with Dasom Ministries Orphanage in Uganda, the proceeds from Umoja NFTs support 17 orphans — along with many other locals in need — who are also the visionaries behind each piece of digital art. Therefore, Umoja starts with real-world input and ends with real-world impact.
What sets Umoja apart compared to other NFT projects in the digital art landscape?
Umoja is hyper-focused on real-world impact that can make drastic improvements in the lives of real people. Rather than just donating our proceeds to a large institutional charity, we took the approach of purchasing the land Dasom Ministries Orphanage is on in order to ensure them a future free from displacement and are dedicating our initial focus entirely on uplifting the lives of these select individuals. But these orphans and volunteers aren’t just central to our mission; they’re central to the art itself.
Can you please explain how your project involves volunteers and children through its art creation process?
We speak directly with the children and the volunteers (many of the young children are still learning English, so the volunteers help translate) and ask them to imagine anything. We believe in the infinitely scalable power of the human imagination and leverage modern generative AI to help bring their visions to life and give them a creative platform that not only represents them but supports them. Every prompt is delivered in the form of “I imagine…” and our team takes that idea and brings it to life in our unique art style that’s meant to represent the abstract space of the human imagination.
In short, the people of Dasom Ministries Orphanage come up with ideas, we create them and turn them into NFTs, and the proceeds from their imaginative pieces go directly to the reoccurring and fixed-price projects we outline on our website.
In which ways does Umoja ensure honest operations regarding its contributions?
We support honest operations through consistent updates from Dasom Ministries in the form of images/videos of progress on projects, receipts from purchases of goods, and regular conversations with the Director of the orphanage.
What inspired you to support an orphanage in Uganda over other charitable initiatives?
I’ve always known I wanted to help individuals in that part of the world, and I firmly believe that foundational change starts with the youth. On a personal note, I don’t have any family myself, and I understand what it can feel like not to have any support system or someone who sees the potential in you. I see the potential in every one of those children, and it’s my goal to do whatever I can to foster it.
Are there other ways in which we can help support your cause instead of purchasing an NFT?
Absolutely! Anyone can go directly to Dasom Ministries by visiting their website and donating: https://dasomministriesuganda.org/
Has anyone from the Umoja team been involved in any other blockchain-based projects?
I (Tiffany) have been Head of Design for Stellar Development Foundation (stellar.org) for the past five years, a company whose sole goal is real-world utility with blockchain. My main focus with Stellar has been working on building its non-custodial wallet Vibrant App, which allows individuals in high-inflation countries to access USDC and escape devaluation.
What’s in the pipeline for Umoja? Do you have inspiration to expand the project across Africa?
We’ve got big dreams at Umoja. How far we’re able to take things really comes down to the level of support our project receives. In an ideal world, we’ll not only fill the basic needs of these individuals, but we’ll set them up on a path of success: opening schools, fostering vocational training, and building the greater community. Our goal would be to take the Umoja model and apply it to the many individuals and areas in need throughout Africa and eventually beyond.
Anything else you would like to add?
Umoja’s goal is to create sustainability for those we support, so we allocate our royalties right back into the project. We want to encourage supporters to buy or sell at any point because even in the secondary market, their contributions don’t go unseen. Every single transaction made on an Umoja NFT goes back toward the mission and, therefore, puts real food in mouths, real medicine in bodies, and real roofs over heads. You can never be late to the game with Umoja. You can only choose not to play.
One other additional note that might be relevant to readers is that at mint, every image will be at a fixed price of ~$100. We felt that price point would be enough to know you’re making an impact and a reasonable amount for the everyday person who wanted to support a good cause and receive a unique piece of art in return. Our mint date is 11/28 to observe Giving Tuesday.