5 startups creating lasting social impact
The social and economic implications of the COVID-19 pandemic range from an increase in unemployment and social exclusion to food insecurity in developing countries. During these challenging times, it is more important than ever to foster human solidarity and find new ways to tackle the modern world’s social problems. Startups have a key role to play, as social entrepreneurs are developing top-notch solutions that bring out the best in people and create social impact.
Here are 5 startups leveraging technological innovation to scale social impact:
Addressing global hunger
ShareTheMeal is an app that makes it easy for anyone to join the fight against hunger in developing countries affected by conflicts and natural disasters. Founded by Berlin-based social entrepreneurs, the app is officially a part of the United Nations World Food Programme. Users can download the app and choose a WFP operation they would like to support. The contribution can range from a one-off donation to provide meals to children in Yemen or Syrian refugees in Iraq to a monthly support to a particular family. Supporters can learn about the impact of their support through personalised updates. Since the app’s launch in 2015, users from across the world have donated over 90 million meals.
Tackling poverty through funding for training & employment
Beam is a crowdsourcing platform that helps economically disadvantaged individuals in London receive training, access employment and regain independence. How does this work? Every person on Beam is referred to by one of the project’s partners – 46 charities and local authorities. Beam’s team then helps them develop a career plan and uploads their profile to the platform. Everyone can read their stories, choose a person they would like to support and receive progress updates. The startup has won over a dozen awards and Beam’s founder, Alex Stephany, published “The Business of Sharing”, a book on the sharing economy.
Reducing social isolation among the elderly
Mon Ami is a California-based startup, co-founded by two graduate students, Joy and Madeline, who say social isolation is as harmful as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. The startup developed a volunteer management platform to scale community support and coordinate essential services for seniors. It facilitates the connection between people willing to volunteer and seniors who need support, whether to help with daily errands or to have a conversation. During the pandemic, Mon Ami adapted its platform to enable remote support. For example, the Volunteer Phone Bank Initiative allows seniors to sign up to receive calls from a verified volunteer.
Tackling cyberbullying and online dangers
Kaitiaki is a startup from Italy that leverages AI technologies to detect cyberbullying, hate-speech and self-harm amongst children. The startup offers a free app for parents and guardians that monitors behavioural patterns in children’s social media profiles and alerts the parents if it detects a danger. As opposed to ‘spying apps’, Kaitiaki’s solution was developed with the aim to guarantee children’s privacy: parents cannot access their profiles or interactions using the app. Kaitiaki’s products also include a package for schools that provides a mapping of the school’s social climate and a tailored plan for awareness-raising and prevention of online bullying.
Empowering local communities
Kuunda 3D is a 3D-printing startup based in Kenya that is scaling across East & West Africa. Founded by a social entrepreneur Elizabeth Rogers, the startup offers 3D printing products and services to industries, architects, educational establishments and medical facilities. But it also brings the benefits of 3D printing to local communities in rural areas by providing resources, training and support for people and small businesses to print their own agricultural equipment and other tools, which helps drive local productivity and job creation. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the startup pivoted to supply personal protective equipment and medical supplies to the country’s health care system.
These are some of the many examples demonstrating startups’ potential to transform people’s lives and contribute towards a more inclusive society. We believe that improving the policy environment for startups is one of the ways to address societal challenges post-COVID. Whether it is a platform or an AI-based startup, the aforementioned list shows that startups have much to give our societies. At Allied for Startups, we continue to showcase startups who are innovating to address important societal challenges: supporting the elderly, beating cancer, contributing to environmental sustainability, and reducing barriers for persons with disabilities.