Minority startup accelerator turns to social impact

Diverse social impact startups are the desired applicants for a new accelerator programme, could they influence representation across the business world?

Following its funding advice series for Black and women-led startups this year, co-working space brand Huckletree has launched another initiative to help diversify the funding climate for early-stage businesses. This time, they’re shining a light on businesses that are making a social impact.

Calling social impact startups

The twelve-week Alpha programme will be an accelerator for impact-driven pre-seed-stage businesses. However, “founders from diverse backgrounds”, remain desired applicants. Programme supporters include AccelerateHER, an organisation tackling gender inequity in tech, and diverse startup community YSYS.

Under the theme of “Sustainable Planet”, the accelerator invites startups involved in “innovation and new technology” that encourages businesses and consumers to think about their environmental impact to apply.

Successful applicants will get help in the launch and scaling of their businesses; including workshops led by industry experts, pitching classes, and the opportunity to collaborate with Huckletree’s “network of talent, partners, and investors.” They will also be given free access to its workspaces for a year.

Businesses that have taken part previously include Evocco, a carbon footprint assessment app, and Wild.AI, a training app for female athletes offering coaching services based on the menstrual cycle.

Applications are open to pre-seed founders wanting to raise at least £350k within six months of leaving the programme. After online pitches, applicants will be whittled down to five “purpose-driven for-profit” startups by March 19. The programme is expected to start on April 6.

Investor interest in social impact

While opening the floor to impact-driven businesses is the right thing to do in a world battling issues like climate change, it’s an area that’s also commanding growing investor interest.

According to startup data provider, Dealroom, European early-stage businesses involved in tackling climate change attracted €9.8 billion in venture capital investment over the past five years.

Investor popularity aside, tech social-impact businesses are also more likely to solve the world’s pressing climate issues. The World Economic Forum, (WEF) said that sustainable-impact businesses, especially those involved in technology, could “reduce global carbon emissions by 15% by 2030.”

Gabriela Hersham, Co-founder, and CEO of Huckletree said: “Solving the climate crisis isn’t an easy task, but it’s an urgent one, so the theme of Sustainable Planet for us was a no brainer and will tackle issues that are extremely close to us – fair funding, sustainability, and innovation.

“The state of funding across the board is, frankly, unacceptable, and action needs to be taken to address how underrepresented women and people of colour are in the process. We’re excited to launch our Alpha Programme this year, in a climate when the world feels like it needs more than its fair share of love and support for one another – and we’re here to help.”

Maya Lingham, Community Data and Impact Manager at YSYS added: “Over the past four years at YSYS we have been working on our mission to give 100,000 diverse individuals access to connections, opportunities, and investors in tech, so we know that collaboration and partnerships are crucial for us to take meaningful steps towards an equitable industry. Huckletree shares our values and commitment to supporting underrepresented founders. We’re excited to partner on the Alpha Programme to provide more opportunities for more founders.”

The role of diverse startups

Shining a light on diverse-led startups, and especially those involved in tech is the way to achieve more inclusive representation and innovation across the business world. Firstly, a diverse leadership team with different perspectives can help drive innovation, especially in a tech business.

Startups with diverse teams, if funded, have the blueprint for inclusivity that could grow with the business itself. As these businesses gain funding and go from startups to SMEs and even scale up to become large corporations, we could see diverse teams become the norm at the larger end of the spectrum.

This is why having initiatives that open up minority-led startups to advice, support, and potential investors is so important, as facilitating their growth could mean that D&I within businesses becomes an integrated concept instead of an add-on to HR approaches further down the line.

Applications for Huckletree’s new programme are open. Click here to find out more.

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