Millennial startup Arts Help receives $5 million from billionaire Chris Larsen to raise awareness of the climate crisis

The headshots of each Arts Help executive
(L-R) Adiam Gafoo – Chief Operating Officer; Mo Ghoneim – Founder / Chief Strategy Officer; Mercedes Custodio – Chief Development Officer; Janice Lau-Pearson – Chief Marketing Officer Lane Dorsey
  • Nonprofit organization Arts Help has received $US5 ($AU7) million in funding from billionaire Chris Larsen.
  • The money will be used to fund art initiatives seeking to combat the climate crisis.
  • The organization also has plans to develop an NFT marketplace and launch programming around crypto.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Arts Help, the nonprofit organization founded by 29-year-old Mo Ghoneim, announced Thursday it received $US5 ($AU7) million in funding from tech billionaire and Ripple cofounder Chris Larsen.

The money will be used to fund art initiatives that address the climate crisis, Ghoneim told Insider. Arts Help has already started building platforms and resources to better educate creatives on environmental issues and how they can use their craft to bring awareness to it.

Founded in 2018, Arts Help was ranked by Startup Pill as one of the top 101 art start-ups to follow and has amassed nearly 3 million followers on Instagram. As Insider previously reported, the company is now one of the largest digital art publishers in the world, in terms of volume.

“We are leveraging art as a catalyst for social change,” Ghoneim told Insider, adding that he and Larsen are “greatly aligned vision-wise” in that pursuit.

“Art has the capacity to bring together diverse populations to achieve the common good,” Larsen said in a statement. “Climate change is real, and the time for action is now. I believe that Arts Help’s mission-driven programming is a testament to their creativity and efficacy in addressing urgent global issues.”

Larsen currently sits on Arts Help’s advisory board and serves as a mentor to the team. After numerous conversations, Larsen gave the money citing the urgency of having Arts Help further address the climate crisis, according to Ghoneim.

Arts Help has also partnered with a tech developer to launch an NFT marketplace for artists as well as create educational tools to teach artists how to be a conscious crypto-creator, though details on the deal are still confidential.

“One of the key takeaways from this pandemic is the need to stay agile and abreast of new technologies as many aspects of life move digitally,” Arts Help COO Adiam Gafoo said about the company’s expansion into NFTs.

“Gone are the days of being a starving artist to be credible and the stigma of ‘selling out,'” she continued. “We would like to replace that with encouragement for artists to be informed participants in owning equity in their work in the intersectionality of the current and the new creative economy.”

Since 2019, Arts Help has worked with the United Nations to create art addressing the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, which include eradicating poverty, promoting gender equality, and combating the climate crisis.

In June, Arts Help launched an exhibition entitled “Zero Gravity” into space via balloon, showcasing global artists, such as Nigerian-based Alex Peter and American-based Zaria Forman, who addressed the SDGs through their work. A portion of the $US5 ($AU7) million in funding will go toward further such projects.

“The time is now” to use art as a way to address the environmental crisis at hand, Ghoneim said. “Art has the ability to evoke and inspire people to take action. We’re doing what we do best by putting art at the forefront of solving these challenges.”