In the past few years, there has been a dramatic surge in interest relating to so-called ‘impact’ companies and investments. Public awareness and concern for global economic, environmental and social issues are at an all-time high. We attribute this in part to the so-called ‘Blue Planet Effect‘ and in part, to the ever more ominous severity of the issues we face. As a result, institutions like United Nations have set out strategies like their Sustainable Development Goals to help solve these issues (more on these below).
The data from Angel Investment Network‘s 1 million users reflect this growth in interest. We’ve seen an astonishing 250% increase in the number of investors interested in the Greentech & Environment industry in the UK since 2016. The number of companies raising money who define themselves as ‘ethical’ and ‘sustainable’ has blown up at a similar rate.
And we don’t expect this interest to dwindle anytime soon. Our newest product, Seedtribe, was built to support investors and companies in the ‘impact’ sector. In a previous post, I described how Seedtribe is encouraging investors to commit more to this space and I defined ‘impact’ in this context as:
…when an investor backs a business which has a social and/or environmental mission at its core…[but is also] targetting profitability alongside its social mission.
This works as a general definition. And makes the important point that investing in ‘impact’ is NOT philanthropy.
This point is reflected in Seedtribe’s model for selecting companies. There two key focus areas in our evaluation:
- We are committed to generating returns for our investors. We select businesses that we believe have the strongest chance of achieving high-growth and/or high-profit. These will ultimately have the best chance of producing returns for investors. Our investment committee has 14 years’ experience investing in and raising finance for startups. It employs due diligence methods honed over this period to pick the most promising companies.
- We are also committed to working on ‘impact’ businesses. Our investment committee also evaluates businesses according to criteria developed by the United Nations, known as ‘Sustainable Development Goals’ (SDGs). It is these businesses which we believe will produce positive and lasting change in the world and allow our investors to invest in impact.
But what are the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal (SDGs)?
The SDGs, or Global Goals for Sustainable Development, are a collection of 17 global objectives set by the United Nations in 2015.
The 17 goals focus on global social, environmental and economic issues. Their purpose is to produce positive and lasting change across key development problems in all countries.
The official title for the project is ‘Transforming our World: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development’.
The goals are broad and interdependent, but each has its own specific targets. Each goal is described in brief below:
Goal 1: No Poverty
End poverty in all its forms
Goal 2: Zero Hunger
End hunger, achieve food security and improve nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture
Goal 3: Good Health & Wellbeing
Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages
Goal 4: Quality Education
Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all
Goal 5: Gender Equality
Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls
Goal 6: Clean Water & Sanitation
Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all
Goal 7: Affordable & Clean Energy
Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all
Goal 8: Decent Work & Economic Growth
Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all
Goal 9: Industry, Innovation & Infrastructure
Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialisation and foster innovation
Goal 10: Reduced Inequalities
Reduce inequality within and among countries
Goal 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities
Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable
Goal 12: Responsible Consumption & Production
Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns
Goal 13: Climate Action
Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts
Goal 14: Life Below Water
Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development
Goal 15: Life on Land
Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss
Goal 16: Peace, Justice & Strong Institutions
Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels
Goal 17: Partnerships for the Goals
Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development
How is Seedtribe helping?
The UN recognises that successful implementation of these targets will be most realistically achieved by individuals and institutions working towards them on a local and regional level. Lasting global impact will then be realised provided there is a sufficient collective effort across different regions.
Seedtribe aims to contribute to this collective effort. We help investors and entrepreneurs use their skills and resources to create impactful businesses with the potential to affect positive change across all these SDGs.
Watch this space.
This article was originally posted on Angel Investment Network’s blog in June 2018.