Comunitaria works to make communities more prosperous and economically sovereign by promoting the local economy with social currencies.
As part of their journey on BlockStart’s Acceleration Programme, as a startup developer of blockchain technology, they were looking to further develop their solution and for new opportunities for collaboration with end-user SMEs that could validate and help them improve their “Blockchain of Things Devices” blockchain solution.
We spoke with CEO Miguel Prados to know more about Comunitaria and their participation in BlockStart.
In one paragraph, what is Comunitaria?
Comunitaria is a company focused on Homeowner’s Association Management, our project “Rooftop that Feeds” that converts solar energy in fresh food thanks to a community currency, is part of our commitment to have a positive social impact as a company.
Can you tell us how the idea for your startup began?
Covid crisis made us realise that informal economies in deprived neighbourhoods were in danger, we knew community currencies can help local economies in difficult times.
What is Comunitaria passionate about achieving?
A positive social impact that last and can be replicated.
Who are the team members and what backgrounds do you have?
Miguel Prados (CEO) Civil Engineer, MBA IE, MBA Icade, MSc engineering, an expert in Ethical Finance by the Social Banking Institute and founding member of the Oxford Blockchain Foundation. He has worked as an international director for engineering companies in more than ten countries. He also manages open source projects and is founder of DLT initiatives like: listAbierta.org, Votecoin.info, Councilcoins.org.
Luciano Silvi, our CTO, is a Computer Analyst at the Faculty of Mathematics, Astronomy and Physics of the National University of Cordoba, researcher at UNE implemented with Spacy, NLTK, Scikit-Learn. He has worked as a software researcher at the Argentinean Space Agency. He is a blockchain developer in IOTA, Ethereum and Fuse.io.
Elena Silva. She’s been hired as COO, she is an MBA graduate with specialised knowledge in finance and accounting. She is also a Caritas volunteer. Her contribution is invaluable as she is the one driving operations on site.
Luciana Vaggione. She’s a front end developer and graphic designer, she works hands on hands with Elena in bringing an easy experience to Charities/ONGs operators that uses Comunitaria blockchain development to provide fresh-food using our local cryptocurrency.
Belén García, our CMO, and PPC & Digital Marketing Specialist. Graduated in Marketing and Market Research, with experience in Retail Ecommerce, and doing a Master in Digital Marketing at ESIC.
Manolo Sánchez, is a professor of anthropology of the University of Seville, he is also the local priest in the church “La Candelaria”, he request to be part of the team as he wished to collaborate for the success of the project and also is quite interested in the research outcomes of our work. to have a humanistic point of view is quite valuable for us, also it will benefit our collaboration to extend the Caritas pilot project to other neighbourhoods.
Can you tell us about the prototype you have developed with the support of BlockStart Acceleration Programme?
“Rooftop that Feeds” will use donations to buy solar cells for the rooftops of deprived neighbourhoods, the electricity produced will be sold to the local commerce, and the local commerce will pay this electricity (to neighbours) using a digital community currency (instead of Euros), neighbours will use this community currency to buy fresh food at the local commerce. Donation has a recurrent production (in local fresh food) equal to the lifespan of the solar cells. We’ve built the MVP of the entire process on the local Church “La Candelaria” and signed agreements with local shops to buy electricity from the Church with our community currency.
What were you most excited about in taking part of BlockStart Acceleration Programme?
We are delighted that BlockStart has promoted the search for partners who want to test our blockchain solution to fight malnutrition and poverty through solar energy. This is the highlight of the programme, which is very well mentored, helping you to think about the practical side of your developments with stakeholders who may be interested and involved.
Which were the major challenges you have faced during the development and market/fit validation of your prototype?
Working in deprived neighbourhoods makes risk for private funding higher, that’s a reality that can’t be ignored. On the other side, there’s local association always willing to help.
What unique aspects does your company and the prototype you have developed have to offer to the market sectors/type of companies you wish to enter/sell and to the blockchain ecosystem in Europe, as a whole?
Comunitaria is a unique blend of two projects: a local social cryptocurrency tied to acquisitions of fresh food and a system to convert solar energy into the same social cryptocurrency.
We can prove to Charities/Governments that we have an offering that works:
As an MVP we’ve installed solar panels on the rooftop of a local church in the “Los Pajaritos” neighborhood in Seville (poorest in Spain) so that the sale of the electricity obtained allows the purchase of local fresh food, helping the local commerce to flourish.
- For the purchase of these fresh products, families would use a mobile-based local social cryptocurrency (the ILLA) that it’s already been in circulation since June 2020.
- We have also previously developed a measurement and invoicing system for solar power production using blockchain (DLT) technology
- Los Pajaritos has high solar radiation and low-rise, flat-roofed residential buildings.
We also are backed by the social impact acceleration program of UNICEF Lab.
Once we have proved that this system works here, it can be exported elsewhere, not only in Europe.
Is collaboration with SME adopters important for piloting your solution?
It’s vital, their feedback allows us to do our product-market fit.
Where do you see your company in 5 years?
We would love to see the idea of: “installing solar cells to provide fresh food from local shops thanks to community currencies” replicate around the world, with Comunitaria sharing our knowledge and experience as the main player in the field.