January 20, 2022 5:00 pm

Startups set out to make their mark on society



Starting a startup is a crusade and if you add to that the variable of social entrepreneurship it was, until recently, like preaching in the desert. But as the idea of ​​the consumer aware of the SDGsWhat used to be a peculiarity today is a thriving trend in the economic fabric. Resilient and driven by entrepreneurs who no longer just want a profitable project, but rather social impact is sought in the DNA of your company make a difference. As marketing guru Andy Stalman says, customers are no longer sought, but believers who share the values ​​that a company represents.

For Félix López, director of
SEK Lab EdTech

, startup accelerator in the Camilo José Cela University, social entrepreneurship in Spain is booming, and now those seeking to reduce the effect on environment and they have to do with mobility, energy and ecological products. Below are those of the sector Health. According to López, these startups have an easier time surviving in the long term because they are based on business models that already work. And impact investors proliferate, who seek to make a mark with their business commitment. “There are already three social impact funds of more than 40 million euros, while they have managed to weather the pandemic crisis better than others.”

López indicates that there are few Ibex35 companies that do not have an acceleration program with social entrepreneurship projects. In turn, they learn from startups to innovate faster and bring them closer to the reality of the market. Precisely a fund to help social startups is

the Social Exchange. Anton Jáuregui, Head of Marketing and Communication, points out that social entrepreneurship in Spain is below the European average, but «What used to be seen as a sector associated with donations or philanthropy is now in a mature phase. And in companies we see a lot of interest in trying to implement their philosophy in the corporate culture ».

For Jáuregui, “in the future we will witness an increase in the use of the word ‘impact’. Distinguishing between honest companies and those that do it for marketing, the well-known ‘greenwashing’, which is evolving to the so-called ‘impact washing’. We must be demanding with this or the sector will lose credibility. ” In that sense, it is worth highlighting

H2C, a company that encourages companies to be more ethical and healthy. Indolfo lozano, its co-founder, points out that the user wants to consume a service aligned with their values. For this reason, the participation of the user in solving the problem is increasingly sought. “That feeling that your work has a direct impact on society becomes addictive”, he points out. Startups with this objective in mind are able to retain their customers and retain talent creating great work teams and a consolidation of your brand. And it is that the common idea is that walking only you get there fast, but walking together you go further.

A caring Amazon for refugee camps

Hammada Saleh, CEO of Butigon, in the Tindouf refugee camp – Butogon

La startup false was born at the end of 2017 by the hand of Hammada Saleh y Louali Salem, two Sahrawis who enrolled in a master’s degree in innovation in Valencia and there the idea arose. Its particularity is that the buyers and the beneficiaries are different. The idea, in Saleh’s words, is to ally with suppliers and small merchants in the Saharawi camps of Tindouf, in Algeria and upload their products to the Butigon website and have customers buy them for people who reside in those settlements. Today it has a base of ten thousand clients.

The startup works like any online store, where you can buy food. The client enters the page, selects the products and enters the information of a person from the camp who wants him to receive the purchase. Once the order is completed, it reaches the supplier who together with the carrier take it to the right person. When the delivery is made, if the customer requests it and the beneficiary of the purchase agrees, a photo of the delivery is taken and sent to corroborate the receipt of the product. The project in Spain is one of a kind, and the challenge was to negotiate with the suppliers and make them understand how the digital part works, doing prior training. “Also the banking system here doesn’t work very well and we have to make an extra effort,” says Saleh.

The beginnings were stressful, and the main difficulties in the camps is the availability of products, especially since the beginning of the pandemic there have been problems with basic products such as oil, flour or bread. “Transportation is complex and the roads are not paved, and it is sometimes difficult to locate the recipient. Added to this is a war which forced us to close in 2020 and we had to make a great effort to be able to recover activity », explains the CEO.

Butigon users are mainly Spanish, families who have welcomed Sahrawi children in the summer and the Sahrawis themselves who reside in Spain and who make purchases for their families, who are in the camps. There are also associations that also buy food for the refugees. In turn, Butigon encourages job creation, because they increase the activity of businesses, while opening a window to the world. It serves as a bridge so that the demand and supply are known, something that does not usually happen, but is inherent to its mission.

The mission to chase away the ghost of loneliness

So far the initiative has adopted 3,500 grandparents and mobilized 5,000 volunteers
So far the initiative has adopted 3,500 grandparents and mobilized 5,000 volunteers – Adopt a grandfather

Adopt a grandfathercame up as an idea of Alberto Cabanes placeholder image, a young man who when visiting his grandfather at the residence used to meet Bernardo, a childless widower whom Cabanes decided to ‘adopt’. Its mission is to establish a connection between seniors who are in a situation of unwanted loneliness and volunteers who are dedicated to accompanying them. Cabanes clarifies that each bond that is formed is unique, and that is what makes it become a grandfather-grandson relationship in the long run. Financing was the main handicap when starting the project. On the other hand, the volunteers were always greater than the available places.

The social enterprise has the double challenge, that other types of companies do not pose, because they must achieve social impact and make their idea sustainable in the long term. During the pandemic due to restrictions it occurred to them to create with the support of the Madrid City Council a telephone line for the elderly called ‘Minutes in company’, which got more than half a million minutes of conversation. The volunteers are mostly girls between 25 and 35 years old. And the elderly are octogenarian or nonagenarian women.

For the CEO of the startup There is still a lack of legislation that says that social enterprises exist. “Currently either you are SL or an NGO, the figure of the social enterprise is missing”. Another vertical was developed after meeting Federico, a grandfather who has a lot to tell and who gave rise to inspirational talks by grandparents ‘influencers’. Another initiative born by the Covid and given that the residences could not be visited was the campaign of letters to grandparents to congratulate them on Christmas. This week the second edition is launched, and in the first, more than 150,000 letters were received. Grandparents become part of Adopt a Grandparent activities by signing up through the website or through social issues. Other times it is a family member who initiates contact with a volunteer. For the moment se have adopted 3,500 grandparents and have 5,000 volunteers, and more than 44,000 company hours have been added.

In Spain, 360,000 older people live in residences and 60% do not receive visitors. According to Adopt a Grandfather, two million older people live alone. To end this, those who register can participate for free in their startup programs and specific activities. At the same time they receive personalized attention from a team of professionals who will help them at any time. And the new app released allows access to the profiles of each grandfather, as well as manage visits. Cabanes confesses that he will be happy the day he is older and someone adopts him, because that will be a sign that his goal has been achieved.

A light of hope where it is most needed

Light Humanity is present in the Amazon – Video: Light Humanity

Eugenio García-Calderón, What a background Light Humanity three years ago, he clarifies that the startup was born for two reasons. The first is to take advantage of the potential we have in solar energy to reduce inequality in the world. And also to solve the problem of energy poverty giving options to communities that depend on fossil fuels. García-Calderón confesses that at the beginning they were testing different technologies, methodologies and forms of financing in order to serve these local communities effectively. But he clarifies that the energy crisis and shortages push people to generate their own energy and the culture of sustainability is emerging, in such a way that decisions are not only made based on the economy, but also on the environment. “There is a transition not only in how we generate energy, but also in who generates it”, he claims.

«We offer a range of solar energy with very wide storage, from a small lamp that is charged with the energy of the sun that accumulates it in a battery, through mobile chargers, to larger systems capable of supplying a home and making it 100 % self-sufficient “, clarifies Calderón. Its system also works connected to the public electricity grid, lowering the contracted power and consumption thanks to solar energy and batteries. that maximize savings. Light Humanity profits go to support disadvantaged communities. They have worked with peoples in the Brazilian Amazon who use kerosene to light their homes. “Thanks to the income we obtain in Europe, we are able to support local entrepreneurs in these areas without access to electricity so that they themselves are able to carry that solar energy and give their families an alternative”, aim.

Fruit of a project in the Cañada Real they developed collective solar loans, since many families did not have access to the electricity grid. “But we needed financial capacity for the project,” recalls García-Calderón. And instead of asking a bank for a loan, the startup went to the public and offered them a 4% return if they deposited savings in the company. All this made La Cañada Real one of the first sustainable towns, says the CEO, who assures that the fundamental principle is to meet real needs, and in his opinion, solar energy is the most democratic way to achieve this. “So we have people helping people and driving the financial lever.”

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