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Can Startups Save the World: A Call for Entrepreneurs to be Changemakers

Over the past four decades, we as a planet have experimented with a few different ways of saving the world. During the past 20 years, we’ve had a shift in thinking about what our most pressing issues are.

We’re still – but not quite so – worried about the nuclear holocaust that seemed inevitable until about 1989, but we’re now dealing with complex problems:

  • Growing demand for global energy
  • A growing global population
  • The impact of global climate change
  • The winners and losers of globalisation
  • The impact of globalisation on health and disease vectors
  • How we can communicate with each other
  • Educating our children
  • How we can maintain our individual and community identity
  • Maintaining our
  • Taking care of our ageing population

Computers, the Internet & the web keep surprising us, disrupting the way we do things:

When you purchase something in a shop, each step in the global supply chain becomes aware of that purchase, optimising stock levels and planning.

Justin Bieber was discovered on YouTube. Crowdfunding platforms have made it possible for hundreds of magazines, books, projects, films, and musicians to launch projects and careers.

News organisations are getting more and more coverage from people on the scene, often with mobile phone cameras.

Technology Used for Social Good: A Call for Entrepreneurs!

We are just beginning to see, however, how this is affecting our most pressing social issues. Issues like climate change. Access to finance for the poorest 2 billion people on the planet. Access to information and global markets for smallholder farmers. Ageing populations. Educating our young people. Keeping and maintaining strong communities.

We believe that the transformative power of technology will be instrumental in addressing our most pressing social issues.

Now, I get this question a lot – how on earth will eBay, Amazon, and Yahoo change the world?

Right now in Scotland, people want to talk to the police – not to report crimes, but to give feedback, both positive and negative. MyPolice.org is a independent, third-party provider of feedback services, engaging the police service in Scotland with the public.

In Nigeria, IWatchLive montior election promises and budgets, and keep track of how the government is doing against its promises – including any adjustments, project and budget tracking, and more, creating a more transparent society.

Gnergy are investees of our accelerator programme who model energy use and efficiency in buildings. They work with property investors to profile the energy risk in their portfolios, and then help them decide in a structured fashion how to address those risks. The built environment is responsible for over 40% of global carbon emissions; companies like this are exploring the value chain to address these emissions.

Where is this Movement Coming from?

All of these companies – and most of the big, disruptive innovations we’ve seen over the last 20 years – have come from start-ups.

We work to inspire new ventures and connect those ventures with the support they need to make their projects a reality.

We Inspire people to start new projects that create real social or environmental impact and connect those people with others who can help make those projects a reality.

Our SocialInnovationCamps are a four-month competition aimed at getting people to come up with new ideas for world-saving start-ups, building teams around those ideas, and getting those ventures to proof-of-concept state.

Our Bethnal Green Ventures accelerator is modelled after a Y-Combinator. We make an open call for teams of 2-3 who have a really fleshed out idea or prototype for a new social venture that we think has the potential to scale and grow – and impact the world in a positive light. We invest in those teams, connect them with mentors, provide them with some desk space, and create a class where over three months they’re meant to launch a proper business in time to pitch at Demo Day – where we bring in a range of commercial and social investors.

A few of our success include:

  • The Good Gym – matches up people who want to get fit with coaches: older, isolated, or disabled people who can’t get out.
  • Mastodon C – outsources big data mining projects in zero carbon data centres.
  • ICNH – builds Doctor/Hospital/Patient communications tools
  • Fairphone – building a more ethical mobile phone
  • Room for tea – matches unpaid charity interns with older people with a spare room.

These are the types of start-ups, working both globally and locally, working like start-ups, being dynamic and creative that will help us to create a fair, just, and sustainable future.

### Entrepreneurs.my is proud to be the Official Online Media Partner for Social Innovation Camp KL in November ###

Social Innovation (SI) Camp helps catalyse and start technology-based social ventures. It accomplishes this by matching experts of a social problem to solution enablers, such as software developers, designers and business-minded folks. The aim? To build technology-based solutions to social problems, from hacking together the software to working out how to sustain an idea – all in under 48 hours.