Queen of Raw, a blockchain and AI-powered platform that pairs buyers and sellers of unused fabrics, is one of three teams that has landed funding via MIT Solve, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology initiative.
Led by cofounder and chief executive officer Stephanie Benedetto, Queen of Raw is the “2019 Circular Economy Solver.” Access Afya, a Kenya-based health-care center that caters to the urban poor, and Kinedu, an app that specializes in video-based, research-supported activities for children under age four, are also receiving funding.
With $120 billion worth of unused fabric stowed away in factories and being burned or buried, Queen of Raw works to make those sustainable materials available to people at any time and from any place. Deadstock and sustainable fabrics can be bought and sold online through its marketplace. Factories, brands and retailers post their unused fabric for resale on the platform so that purchasers can have easy access to new materials at lower price points.
Orders can vary from one yard to one million yards. The company claims to have saved more than one billion gallons of water through its efforts. With the global textile market expected to hit $1.23 trillion by 2025, less than 1 percent of material used to make clothing is recycled. Queen of Raw also closed $1.5 million in seed funding Tuesday, an MIT Solve spokesman said.
This marks the first investments made possible by Solve Innovation Future, a philanthropic venture fund designed to support early-stage entrepreneurs that are trying to solve the world’s most pressing problems. Set up as a Donor-Advised Fund with MIT Solve acting as the donor-adviser, Solve Innovation Future plans to raise $30 million from philanthropic donors through tax-deductible gifts to MIT.
The unusual model will involve Solve Innovation Future making debut and equity investments in Solver teams annually through Solve’s open innovation Global Challenges. Returns from investments will be reinvested into future Solver teams to establish a pay-it-forward approach for entrepreneurs and a renewable philanthropic vehicle for donors. The concept is meant to serve as a model for other DAFs, philanthropic donors and investors who are keen to further social impact investing and free up more capital for early-stage social ventures around the globe.
During Tuesday’s “Virtual Solve”presentation, GM’s chairman and chief executive officer Mary Barra was joined by Yo-Yo Ma. The Solve organization works on different levels with members supporting its mission to solve worldwide challenges through partnership and innovation. Funding for 130 Solver teams is part of the equation. Nike, Capital One and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation are among the supporters working on social impact issues.