DeFi for the People Update & 2022 Plan

Hi Everyone,

My name is Nikhil, and I work on Ecosystem Growth initiatives at Celo. I’d love to give an update on the DeFi for the People program and where we are to date.

While DeFi has seen explosive growth, its usage has largely been limited to the global North. Of the roughly 5 million people around the world currently using DeFi applications, less than 10% live outside of developed countries. DeFi for the People aims to change that by bringing builders together to create products that make DeFi more accessible and easier to use for the people who need it most.

DeFi for the People is a collaboration of projects committed to bringing DeFi to the 6 billion smartphone users around the world. Projects supporting this initiative include Aave, Curve, Sushi, 0x, Moola, Ubeswap, Mobius.

Since the launch of DeFi for the People in August, we’ve seen tremendous growth throughout the Celo ecosystem:

  • Wallet Addresses: The number of wallet addresses on the Celo blockchain increased 87%, from 1.1M to 2.05M.
  • Daily Transactions: Daily transactions grew 168%, from 265K to 711K.
  • Total Value Locked (TVL): TVL in DeFi increased from $394M to $759M. (Through much of October and November, TVL was over $1B.)
  • Community: The Celo community grew by 121%, from 50K to over 125K.

TVL Source: DeFI Llama (see Mobius for additional TVL, which is not reported in DeFi Llama)

DeFi for the People is focused on three tracks: building the DeFi ecosystem, encouraging native mobile development, and connecting DeFi primitives to Celo’s mission of prosperity. Below are updates on those tracks:

$100M Incentive Program to Build out the DeFi Ecosystem on Celo

The Celo Foundation committed $100M in funding for user incentives and grants to support this mission. Since September, the Celo Foundation has deployed $27M in incentives and grants to innovative projects, including PoolTogether, Sushi, 0x, UbeSwap, Moola, Mobius, Symmetric, and Good Ghosting. Additionally, the Celo Foundation has earmarked $33M to several other projects, including Aave, Curve, PlotX, DFX, and Saddle. Currently, 60% of the DeFi for the People initiative fund has been committed.

This incentive program is designed to support both emerging and established leaders in crypto through a tiered model in order to create a more liquid ecosystem on Celo. Liquidity is crucial to making DeFi accessible to all. Initially, incentives were distributed in tranches based on the TVL of the protocol, with larger projects agreeing to match incentives. Based on feedback from community members such as Celo Daily, Mobius, Moola, and UbeSwap, the model has been adapted to factor in the number of users of each protocol over time. We also plan to continue supporting Celo native DeFi protocols—both current and emerging —through grant funding, and to increase marketing efforts to ensure their continued growth on Celo. Our hope is to create a robust ecosystem that features not only native Celo projects, but also mission-aligned protocols joining from other chains that provide users incentives.

To reduce risk, encourage robust partnerships across the Celo ecosystem, and promote friendly conversations about security, all projects that participate in the program undergo a due diligence security review. Organization structure, practices, and management are reviewed to ensure continuity of the project. The user interface is tested to ensure integrity and availability of users’ assets. Relationship with the public and social media communications are reviewed to ensure alignment with the mission of Celo. All smart contracts and DAO source code are audited by reputable third-party firms. Moving forward, based on feedback from the Celo community we are also looking to launch community-driven security programs. More to come on this front.

We welcome all feedback and will continue to have an open dialogue with the community regarding incentive programs and how to evolve it in a way that best supports open and fair launches.

As we look ahead to 2022, we will continue to grow DeFi on Celo and focus on bringing more innovation into the ecosystem such as regenerative finance and DeFi 2.0 that promote environmentally sustainable economic models and new financial technologies in DeFi .

Hackathon Prizes and Funding Totaling $2.5M Awarded to Support Mobile DeFi dApps Built on Celo

The Make Crypto Mobile Hackathon, held October 8 to November 28, 2021, was designed to spur mobile-first development and help nurture teams on their journey to launch projects on Celo. The hackathon drew 2,300 participants submitting 197 projects from 135 countries. A wide variety of promising projects were submitted across DeFi, NFTs, regenerative economics, cash in/cash out, interoperability and more! You can learn more about the submissions in the Project Gallery.

Congratulations to all the participants and hackathon winners! See the announcement of winners at our last Kuneco on December 16, 2021.

DeFi and Real World Uses Cases

One of the most important aspects of the DeFi for the People program is connecting DeFi primitives to real-world use cases. We’ve seen the potential of DeFi through undercollateralized lending and savings pilots in Colombia, Kenya, and the Philippines in partnership with several organizations, including the UN World Food Programme, Mercy Corps, Grameen, Moola Market, and GoodGhosting. As groups like ImpactMarket continue to scale on Celo, we envision web3 as a means to expand financial inclusion. For example, we recently worked with a community of Philippine weavers to help them access international markets. In addition, ReSource, a decentralized protocol for mutual credit networks, extended $380,000 in interest-free B2B credit lines in Asheville, North Carolina. ReSource plans to expand its work in new regions. The Celo Research & Innovation team has also been hard at work conducting market and field research—speaking to founders and users in emerging markets to understand some of their key challenges and opportunities. That research has yielded several publications, including Designing Decentralized Finance Applications for Financial Inclusion and DeFi’s Quest to Reimagine Finance. If you’re interested in learning more about real-world use case pilots, or if you’d like to propose new topics, follow the Celo Foundation Research and Innovation team on Twitter.

Finally I’d like to provide an update on two questions that have come up in relation to the DeFi for the People program:

  • Optics: cLabs launched Optics v2 on December 2, 2021. Please read the forum posts to learn more. We worked closely with and supported integration partners throughout this upgrade, and provided additional bridge incentives. As of January 10, most projects have migrated to v2. See the latest TVL figure here.
  • Aave: Many community members have asked us about the status of Aave’s launch on Celo, and we acknowledge the frustration regarding the delay. Aave’s launch is dependent on Chainlink support. Chainlink integration on Celo was scheduled for last September. Unfortunately, this has been delayed due to engineering resource constraints. We continue to work with Chainlink to help accelerate the deployment. Our intent is for Chainlink and Aave to be deployed on Celo at the end of Q1 and Q2 2022, respectively. We remain committed to the Aave launch on Celo and will continue to keep you updated on the timeline. Please show your support for the launch on the Chainlink and Aave forums.

We’re still in the early days of DeFi for the People, and are excited to continue this work of making financial tools accessible to the 6B smartphone users around the world. We invite any project committed to furthering Celo’s mission of prosperity to join this movement. Please complete this form to apply. Moving forward, we plan to provide more regular updates to ensure greater transparency. Thank you for your continued engagement and holding us accountable to making DeFi accessible to everyone.

To prosperity for all,

Nikhil Raghuveera
Ecosystem Growth @ Celo Foundation


Hey Nikhil,

Nice post and thanks for the detailed update!

We invite any project committed to furthering Celo’s mission of prosperity to join this movement.
Can Celo projects in Web3/Infrastructure category also apply for this?


Depends on the project but happy to discuss! Let me shoot you a direct message with my email and we can connect


Hi Nikhil, my name is Mon and I am currently collaborating with the Celo community Spanish, I loved your article and I have translated it into Spanish, I hope you will allow me to publish it naming you as the author, of course. Thanks a lot!


Hi Mon, thanks!

And that would be great! Just also want to note that while I’m listed as the author this was a statement from the broader Celo Foundation and cLabs team with large segments of it written by other folks on the team.


ok, so I’ll write it down in the translation document that you can see here:

muchas gracias :slight_smile: