Startups Helping Achieve Sustainable Development

How startups will improve the world and contribute to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are a group of seventeen “Global Goals” that address poverty, inequality, climate change, environmental degradation, prosperity, peace and justice, among other worldwide challenges. Set to be accomplished by the year 2030, all SDGs should be met to attain an improved and more Sustainable future for all. However, this can be a massive challenge to any or all countries, particularly people who are a lot stricken by these problems. 


We are in 2020; how will we eradicate poverty in India? how, can we guarantee access to education in Myanmar? Or how can we offer productive employment and economic growth in Haiti? The big question is, how will we do all of it, in only 10 years?


Unquestionably, the UN goals involve advanced issues with a brief deadline. However, the United Nations aren’t the only ones actively involved in these SDGs. All-round the world, organizations are coming up feeling committed to these goals more than before. Every single day a new startup pops up and its aim is to help achieve one or a number of the SDGs. These organizations “coming from nothing” are directing all their power and energy to make new business, processes, products, and customers to solve some problems that the current organizations haven’t been able to solve. 


Startups address issues in a very different way. They don’t look at issues like “poverty” and think about the many obstacles they will face in solving them  or the massive quantity of time required to solve them. Neither do they,like every one, focus on the huge capital required to resolve this issue.



Startups will first look at how attainable the transformational ideas are, then they will give their blood and soul to work on their Minimum Viable Product (MVP) for ensuing three months to verify their plan in practice. The thought is tested in a very tiny cluster so that they will get direct feedback and if it works, it will scale to the whole world.

With all this in mind, once it involves startups, tons of impacting modification will happen by 2030. So, why haven’t we seen a lot of purposeful outcomes from startups since January 2016, when the SDGs officially came into play?

Non-traditional risk assessment is required for non-traditional startups

Historically, NGOs, foundations, governmental organizations, and a few progressive organizations have been working on social impact challenges. This has been as a result of these international problems being  laborious, expensive to resolve and results would possibly take longer to become clear. Venture capitals, private investors, angels, are keen to achieve their ten times return on investment in the least amount of time possible. Such return on investment is far easier to attain by investment in a startup with a business model centered in a market where the consumer has the capital , or at least a market where investors are acquainted with the legislation, culture, and society. 


However, since the SDGs came into play, some investors are attempting to ride the wave of “I too care concerning SDGs”. Though they do not have a lot of expertise in investment in such startups, they tend to use a similar risk assessment approach of startups that they employed on “traditional” issues. There Is a need for a special assessment for startups that are working on the SDGs.


Startups need resources


Startups will produce breakthrough solutions that have an incredible impact on society and also the surroundings. These solutions can solve issues that were thought to be unsolvable before. The challenge that these startups have is that it would be tougher to prove profitable and sustainable in a market with a worldwide scale without support. The support required is in the form of mentorship, exposure, and strategic partnerships. 


New accelerators such as Agora, AIC RAISE and Young Sustainable Impact have the impact approach from conception. It is good to note that older accelerators, like Techstars are also following suit with their “impact” program. Though, what’s out there these days isn’t enough to spice up and support the work that startups are putting to support the SDGs. There may be a need for extra accelerators and programs with a spotlight on the SDGs.

Words alone will not prove impact

Some startups work to support one or more SDGs whereas a few startups only say they work to support one or more of the SDGs. The sole way to separate the important solutions from those that only use PR and media is to assess the impact indicators of these startups. The primary question to be asked to those startups that pledge to be working on a UN Sustainable Goal is whether or not they have a Change Theory. Eight out of 10 startups have a higher probability of not having the knowledge to answer this question, because they do not know what it means.


In short, a change theory defines long term goals, creates a map of actions, and develops indicators to measure outcomes to assess the performance of an initiative. Without having  the correct indicators, it’s hard to prove the assessment of a goal. Such a quantitative approach gives advantage to the startups because the numbers speak for them.

The world as a better place

The SDGs are a good tool to be used in uniting the planet towards common goals which will bring prosperity and hope of a better place. These seventeen UN goals are interconnected and therefore, working on them means there’s a higher degree of a comprehensive future where none of the SDGs is left behind. Now it’s not only within the hands of the UN, governments, NGOs, or foundations, but also within the hands of entrepreneurs that can develop startups out of nice ideas, to experiment, verify, and quickly deliver the better world that everybody dreams of by the year 2030.

How startups will improve the world and contribute to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)