Nexus Community: a global and curated community of professionals sharing solutions, business opportunities and knowledge related to water nexus thematics.
Awards, Prizes and Competitions:
Global Water Awards: a competition for projects demonstrating a significant contribution to the water industry.
XPRIZE Carbon Removal: a four-year global competition for innovators and teams from anywhere on the planet to create and demonstrate solutions that can pull carbon dioxide directly from the atmosphere or oceans ultimately scaling massively to gigaton levels, locking away CO2 permanently in an environmentally benign way.
MIT: Water Innovation Prize, startup competition focused on water innovation that awards up to $35K to student-led teams from across the country and internationally.
Brew Accelerator: yearly competitions unleashing water innovation by funding water technology startups from around the world with commercialization potential.
XPRIZE Foundation: large-scale global incentive competitions to crowdsource solutions to the world’s grand challenges; the domain areas include oceans.
UN Climate Change Conference: Tech For Our Planet challenge programme, an opportunity for startups to pilot technology that will help us reach our net zero targets (incl.Challenge 6 For Our Water).
100Accelerator: an accelerator for innovative solutions that have the ability to scale quickly and make a significant impact on one or more of the challenge areas (incl. water stewardship).
Imagine H2O: an innovation accelerator for the world’s top water entrepreneurs.
Katapult: Ocean Accelerator, a digital program that combines 90 days of intense workshops, networking events and learning sessions with $150,000 – 500,000 investments.
FAO UN Fellowship: designed to attract fellows, typically PhD students, researchers and professors, who have an advanced level of relevant technical knowledge and experience in any field of the Organization.
Kirchner Food Fellowship: three fellowship programs that harnesses the power of millennials to find, fund and assist promising socially responsible agricultural businesses; geographical coverage: Central America, Mexico.
EIT Food: Europe’s leading food innovation initiative, working to make the food system more sustainable, healthy and trusted.
LadyAgri: a network of International and African professionals linking agri-businesses with the finance community, social impact funds, through which women-agri- entrepreneurs can develop and upscale their businesses in Africa and Small Island Developing.
Incubators and Accelerators:
World Resources Institute: Land Accelerator, a four-month program and curated network for entrepreneurs who restore degraded forests and farmland; geographical coverage: Africa, Latin America, South Asia.
The Yield Lab: enabling entrepreneurs to sustainably revolutionize agrifood systems; regional accelerators: North America, Latin America, Asia Pacific, Europe.
EIT Food: supporting innovative impactful agrifood entrepreneurs and startups to deliver new food innovations and businesses across Europe (incubator, accelerator, scaleup program).
X-Europe: 6 acceleration cohorts for European startups; the areas include AgriTech.
Fresh Ventures Studio: a venture building program, co-founding companies with experienced professionals and entrepreneurs to address systemic challenges in the food system; for EU participants, require all participants to locate to Rotterdam for the physical part of the program.
StartLife: accelerating food & agtech startups with lasting impact in Europe.
Hatch Colab: a 12-month program (with periods of residence in Geneva) for Europe-based entrepreneurs committed to solving humanity’s grand challenges and driving sustainable change; the sectors include healthcare.
Future Hub: Open Innovation Sustainability Accelerator, a kickstarter for startup & enterprise co-creation; five sustainability and GreenTech areas: Mobility, Food & AgroTech, Smart cities & Energy, Supply Chain & Logistics, Sustainable Business & Circular Economy; geography: Baltic countries.
FAO and UNIDO: 3ADI+, Accelerator for Agriculture and Agroindustry Development and Innovation; pilot countries: Bangladesh, Suriname, Tanzania.
Glocal: an accelerator for both, startups and mid – sized established companies in the Agribusiness Sector in Latin America.
Village Capital, with the support of Visa Foundation: Future of Food LatAm AgriTech and FoodTechAccelerator, an investment readiness program for Latin American startups that are tackling the region’s most pressing challenges in the agritech and foodtech sectors.
Food naturally connects all of us and it is certainly the easiest way for every single person to make a positive impact (from healthier eating patterns to reduced food waste), so let’s start with global growth programs for food & agriculture ventures.
FoodBytes: a digital and physical discovery program connecting the best and brightest startups with corporates and investors through structured mentor sessions, one-on-one corporate and investor meetings, and more, culminating in a live pitch competition.
Vegan Women Summit: VWS Pathfinder, first female founder summit and pitch competition dedicated exclusively to plant-based innovation.
Awards & Challenges:
World Food Forum: Startup Innovation Awards, a global startup competition established to support and showcase innovators and entrepreneurs who are harnessing the power of technology to drive the sustainable transformation of agri-food systems in support of ending global hunger and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.
Fi: Global Startup Innovation Challenge, competition aimed at rewarding innovative projects within the F&B industry through a specialised support programme tailored to their needs.
Forward Fooding: FoodTech 500, showcasing selected international AgriFoodTech startup and scaleup companies using a unique methodology to rank them based on their business size, digital footprint, and sustainability practices.
UN Climate Change Conference: Tech For Our Planet challenge programme, an opportunity for startups to pilot technology that will help reach our net zero targets (incl.Challenge 2 On Our Plate).
Attention FWD: Forces Of Change Awards, honoring innovators who are making an impact and shaping the future (the sectors include food).
Future Food-Tech: Innovation Challenges for start-ups to tackle some of the most critical issues facing the food-tech industry (The Kellogg Challenge: new microbiome-based innovation for gut wellness; The Unilever Challenge: improving the taste, texture, sustainability of plant-based meat and dairy alternatives).
Iberdrola: Agrivoltaics Startup Challenge, seeking low-cost and environmentally-friendly solutions to combine the roll-out of photovoltaic plants and certain primary sector activities in rural areas in a sustainable way.
Incubators & Accelerators:
Counterfactual Ventures: a startup creation studio, an incubator and venture capital fund that is in the business of replacing factory farming and unsustainable fishing practices with scalable alternative protein solutions.
ProVeg Incubator: supporting pioneering companies that are developing disruptive alternatives to animal-based products and services.
Rockstart: a domain-focused accelerator-VC with follow-on growth funding that supports and empowers the best startups on their way to success across four domains, including agrifood.
SOSV: accelerators for elite startups from around the world tackling the biggest problems; the areas include disruptive food.
100Accelerator: an accelerator for innovative solutions that have the ability to scale quickly and make a significant impact on one or more of the challenge areas (incl. smart agriculture).
FoundersLane: several programs for startups; the focus sectors include agriculture.
Plug and Play: 60+ accelerators; the focus areas include food&beverages and agtech.
Kaizen Company: two hybrid technology incubator/accelerator programs to address global challenges in food security and conflict resolution.
RootCamp: incubators and accelerators focused on agrifood tech innovation (for startups from anywhere, but the program takes place in Hannover).
Sente: looking for innovative startups that are disrupting the indoor agriculture world (3 startup programs).
NetImpact: Food Solutions Challenge, an accelerator and pitch competition focused on finding solutions to the most pressing issues in food and agriculture.
FoodFutureCo: a scale-up accelerator in food, agriculture, social, & environmental entrepreneurship.
HortiHeroes: startup program for food & flower startups
THRIVE Accelerator: supporting seed stage startups from all areas of the value chain whose technologies drive us towards a more efficient, sustainable, and secure agriculture future.
Acumen Academy: Climate Resilient Agriculture Accelerator, helping to scale your business and bolster the climate resilience of smallholder farmers.
Leonhardt Ventures: an innovation accelerator focused on Convergence of Bioelectrics & Biologics for Organ Regeneration and Healing.
Brinc: empowering founders who are solving some of the world’s most pressing challenges through new technology-based solutions: alternative protein, agritech, food technology; location: virtual remote programs and ideally, must be looking to deploy their product / solution in the Asian market.
GROW: Southeast Asia’s agrifoodtech accelerator with an impact focus (online and onsite format for startups from anywhere).
Sprout: helping you navigate your entrepreneurial journey so your company and product gets noticed by Investors who ‘get it’ and want to see you grow a global innovation; location: virtual program, but teams will be expected to travel to New Zealand for a minimum of two visits. It’s our expectation that each company has a business plan to address the New Zealand market and/or connect with one of Sprout’s partners.
FoodTech Accelerator: a Milan-based accelerator, selecting up to10 of the best startups worldwide each year to boost food innovation.
Talgra: Invest with Values, a free educational resource that connects the dots between related investment areas including local banking, community investing, impact investing, and socially responsible investing.
MovingWorlds: helping social enterprises in the ‘pioneer gap’ access the skills to overcome any challenge, while helping the professionals who volunteer their expertise find more purpose in their work and accelerate their for-good careers.
Expert Impact: supporting social entrepreneurs to scale, with introductions, mentoring and advice through the Human Lending Library.
All Good Ventures: business mentoring support from volunteers with ‘muscle’ to help social enterprises.
MicroMentor: a community connecting mentors and entrepreneurs from all over the world to help small businesses thrive.
Tech2impact: mentorship support from experienced founders, industry leaders, and experts to startups on their entrepreneurial path in scaling impact.
Lunt Foundation: providing networking for entrepreneurs fostering a better world for humans and the planet alike.
Mentor Capital Network: helping mission-driven entrepreneurs build companies that will be socially, environmentally, and financially sustainable: business plans review, detailed feedback, mentorship.
Social Sector Network: providing top-quality entrepreneurial training to empower innovative leaders around the world.
Legacy International: Global Transformation Corps, live training and coaching events for a select cohort of social entrepreneurs so they can launch and scale their ventures; and a purposeful online network of impact investors, expert coaches and next generation entrepreneurs dedicated to shifting the world to sustainable economies.
Youth Business International: supporting underserved young entrepreneurs (18 – 35 years) to start, grow and sustain their businesses – enabling them to create jobs, build communities and transform lives.
FuseChange: free consulting services for entrepreneurs that are impacting social and environmental change in their community.
SAIRA: a digital matchmaking platform that tackles the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals by bringing established experts together with upstart innovators and facilitating long-term initiatives.
Eos Entrepreneur Foundation: supporting social entrepreneurs through coaching, a comprehensive online self-assessment, an analysis of the social entrepreneur’s strengths and weaknesses as well as identifying needs and priorities for improvement.
Regional & National
Enablis: supporting SME entrepreneurs who create jobs in developing and emerging countries, leading to sustainable economic growth.
Impact Consulting: a global network of aspiring and professional Consultants, who want to make a positive impact on the world.
Earth Ambition: the global community improving wellness & growth of impact-driven freelancers, founders & startups.
Nexus Community: a global community sharing solutions, business opportunities and knowledge on water nexus thematics.
Talent Networks of Skill-based Volunteers:
Matchable: reimagining volunteering by offering employees unique upskilling opportunities working with exciting non-profits and impact startups.
ShareNest: a social enterprise that matches capable volunteers with NGOs & social impact projects around the world.
Taproot Foundation: helping social change organizations solve critical challenges in their communities with the support of skilled volunteers sharing their expertise pro bono.
DataKind: providing social change organizations with the pro bono data science innovation team they need to boost impact in the fields of education, poverty, health, human rights, the environment and cities.
Gusher: a startup platform helping companies launch using time equity; everything, incl. health, food.
uBegin: an online platform to look for collaborators.
All Good Ventures: support from volunteers with ‘muscle’ to help social enterprises with small jobs.
TechChange: online professional development courses and events in technology and social change.
On Purpose: Associate and Pathfinder helping people transition into careers, but more profoundly lives, with more meaning and purpose.
Courses for Impactpreneurs:
edX: Enabling Entrepreneurs to Shape a Better World; Responsible Innovation: Building Tomorrow’s Responsible Firms; Responsible Innovation: Ethics, Safety and Technology; Data Ethics, AI and Responsible Innovation; Innovation: From Plan to Product; Capstone Economics and Policies for a Circular Economy; Entrepreneurship in Emerging Economies, and more.
Coursera: Becoming a changemaker: Introduction to Social Innovation; Social Impact Strategy: Tools for Entrepreneurs and Innovators; Business Strategies for Social Impact, and more.
Effective Altruism: EA Virtual Programs are opportunities for anyone around the world to engage intensively with the ideas of effective altruism through readings, videos, podcasts, and weekly small-group discussions.
Shift/Co: training materials designed to help you grow your conscious business and further develop your entrepreneurial skills.
There are many online platforms with resources for impact startups and you can therefore compile different (often free) materials and courses in order to build your own curriculum. If you prefer to move forward on your own, here is the first part in the series ‘’Be Your Own Mentor’’.
Stay tuned on Linkedin and Twitter for more useful resources. Follow #LVfinds on Twitter for daily updates for your impact venture to start and progress faster (online programs, fellowships, awards, competitions, incubators, accelerators, and more).
I launched a Linkedin group to share remote impact job opportunities (Remote Impact Jobs) a few months ago while searching for a meaningful job opportunity myself. Following a marathon of 50+ interviews and exploratory calls last year I got into, what I call, an ‘’impact job seeker dilemma’’. Paraphrasing Phil Knight – ’’The junk merchant doesn’t sell his product to the consumer, he sells the consumer to his product’’, – I failed to sell different companies/job offers to myself. Life was pushing me in another direction, and that’s how I came up with my 1-year challenge and decided to focus on my very own project LeanVentures this year.
It is starting to take more and more time to monitor and share job offers in the Linkedin group though. And then it is definitely not the easiest way to proceed:
thousands of job offers are published daily (even on weekends);
pretty much anything is called an impact job and it is hard to avoid irrelevant employers/job offers;
key details are missing in most of the jobs offers (exact remote location (region/country/time zone), deadlines, days the offers were posted, etc.);
some of the offers are getting reposted and I therefore happen to share some of the opportunities several times;
the number of posts is limited, they get lost in the group thread, and there is no way to sort them by categories (sustainability, social impact, ESG, environment..).
And the list goes on.
All in all, although the Remote Impact Jobs Linkedin group serves its purpose, it does not seem to be the most efficient way to help impact job seekers. So, the idea is to make it easier for anyone looking for a remote impact job to monitor the relevant job offers. Let’s see how the group can be turned into a job platform over the next few weeks. There is no single solution to solve all the problems. I will therefore choose a niche. There are already too many job listings after all.
Are you looking for a remote job with a purpose – feel free to join the Remote Impact Jobs Linkedin group (200+ remote (mostly global and EU/US-based) impact job opportunities weekly) to be the first to know about the platform launch.
My vanity and actionable metrics keep showing interest in the funding opportunities and it is a follow-up to the first monthly update.
While there are many duplicating efforts in setting impact investing platforms that connect impact investors with impact founders/ventures, it is not a solution to the problem impact founders have. There is no lack of information on the funds and individual impact investors (you can check the opportunities provided by the platforms listed in the first monthly update or order the Collection of Funding Opportunities for Impact Ventures with updated information and working links), and still only up to 2% of the business ideas submitted to potential investors actually get funding.
Although there are various reasons for this, I suggest focusing on what can be done by you:
Have a team/co-founder(s), as investors tend to choose teams over solopreneurs.
Investors provide financial support when there are metrics showing clients and growth (or at least validated ideas). Validate your impact business idea first.
Work not only on the idea but also the way you present it. By making your pitch deck succinct and easy to understand you increase your prospects for getting funded. And ”easy to understand” doesn’t mean ”oversimplified”. It does mean providing essential details for investors to make a decision.
Do not overlook angels/individual funders – there are higher chances they back the very early-stage startups.
Start with sector-specific funds (experts in your specific field). You will not only speak the same language. Expert support will be offered.
All in all, prior to searching for external investment, you need to invest in yourself and your impact business idea. Be your first investor (both time and funding-wise).
External funding is optional, external expertise is essential. As paradoxical as it may seem, sometimes you need to slow down to get results faster. And here are dozens of growth opportunities for your impact venture: online programs, fellowships, challenges, pitch competitions, bootcamps, incubators, accelerators. These are mostly global opportunities unless otherwise specified in the below table. The updated version can be found here.
Imfino: a global online platform that aims to connect impact investors with impact investment opportunities (entrepreneurs) meeting their investment requirements. (things to note: no investors&ventures listed)
Impact Investing Network Map: Network Map, demonstrating the publicly available transactions between investors and companies within Impact Investing. (things to note: no investors&ventures listed)
It’s not evident what exactly is being beta-tested as there are no investors and startups listed on two out of three platforms and only four funds and 32 ventures listed on KapVista’s website.
Let’s now have a look at the fully operational online platforms and tools connecting impact investors with impact ventures:
ImpactSpace: an open data platform powering the global impact marketplace. (things to note: outdated information, some links do not work)
Impact Investor Landscape: mapping the ecosystem for collaboration, transparency, and the impact. (things to note: misleading information on the sectors for some of the investors, some of the listed organisations are not impact investors, some links do not work)
Impact Finance: a review of 150 impact investing platforms, networks, and organizations that promote, support, or convene investors in the impact finance area. (things to note: some of the listed organisations are not impact investors, outdated information, some links do not work)
Global Innovation Exchange: a list of foundations and funding initiatives providing funding for social entrepreneurs. (things to note: most of the listed organizations only provide funding to nonprofits or international development projects, outdated information on some of the organizations, oil&gaz companies are on the list)
Social Sector Network: knowledge repository (things to note: 28 impact investors listed, some links do not work).
Abaca: helping more impact-driven founders connect with investors and other supporters who can help them scale. (things to note: no investors or entrepreneurs listed on the website)
Zebras Unite: a community of entrepreneurs, investors, and allies dedicated to building companies that balance both profit and purpose. (things to note: no investors and companies listed on the website)
Founders for Change: Diverse Investors List, a resource for founders and the tech community to more easily find VC investors from diverse backgrounds. (things to note: some links do not work as Crunchbase has outdated information on many funders)
Refugee Investment Network: connecting investors and refugee ventures for an inclusive future. (things to note: not a user-friendly tool, no investors listed,ventures listed on the platform)
Women Effect: Women Effect Landscape Map. (things to note: outdated information, some of the listed organisations are not impact investors, some links do not work)
Global Health Impact Fund: a Strategic Venture Capital Investment Network connecting clinician and healthcare professional investors with early-stage healthcare technology companies. (things to note: no investors listed)
Future Planet Capital: a co-investment platform giving the world’s largest investors scale-efficient access to technology and life science firms; the focus areas include health, climate change, education, sustainable growth & security. (things to note: no investors listed, the portfolio is available on the website)
Investor Flow: an online tool for impact investors to share their deals. (things to note: sign-up is only available for investors)
GREENBACKERS: a by-invitation program offering to selected entrepreneurs exposure to active, pre-qualified investors with a proven interest in climate, cleantech, and the circular economy. (things to note: the sign-up link for entrepreneurs doesn’t seem to work; the next pitch date is May 19th, 2021)
Pitch@Palace: connecting entrepreneurs with potential supporters; the sectors include agriculture&food technology, health&medical technology. (things to note: last pitch events date back to late 2019)
LSP VC: connecting investors to inventors in the healthcare sector in the EU and US.
Europe’s Impact Investing Database: a country-based database; the categories include accelerators, business angels, deal platforms, ethical banks, foundations, etc. (things to note: not a user-friendly tool with outdated information on some of the accelerators and funds)
WEAR Sustain: an online platform for the Europe-wide wearable technology, smart and electronic textiles network, for collaborations and innovations between artists, designers, technologists, and engineers working on ethical and sustainable solutions and technologies for a better future. (things to note: most of the listed investors do not seem to invest in impact ventures, some of the listed organizations are not investors or accelerators, outdated information on some of the listed organizations)
+impact: a digital platform connecting startups with investors propelling positive impact in the Nordics. (things to note: most of the investors do not seem to be impact investors and the information on some of them is outdated, some links do not work)
The Vinetta Project: A Capital Platform for top female founders across North America. (things to note: only a few startups and no investors listed on the platform)
Invest In Change: connecting Angel Investors with US- and UK-based companies that can do good whilst making money. (things to note: startups along with the resources for investors and entrepreneurs are listed on the website, some links do not work (resources section)).
RENEW: an impact investment firm that manages and serves the Impact Angel Network, a global network of investors that seeks to realize both social impact and financial returns on their investments in small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in Africa. (things to note: sign-up is only available for investors, the portfolio is available on the website)
Other platforms/tools for impact funders and founders:
F6S: a free network where founders get deals, apply for funding (Accelerators, Funds, Angels) & Investors find startups. (things to note: there is no possibility to sort results by sector, only 74 funds listed)
Crunchbase: a list of impact investing companies. (things to note: there is no possibility to check investors by sector or type of organization (advisers, management firms, etc.), some links do not work, oil&gaz companies are on the list)
Flipidea: a Data-as-a-Service platform offering analytical information about business failures (things to note: the website doesn’t always work properly, no search by category, categories are not mentioned for most of the funders, the websites of some of the VCs and accelerators do not work)
SIGNAL: an online tool for founders to find the right investors; the focus sectors include education, energy, agtech, health, biotech, cleantech, impact. (things to note: the websites of some of the VCs do not work, misleading information on the sectors for some of the listed investors)
Global Invest Her: a global platform for women entrepreneurs and investors. (things to note: no companies and investors listed)
GAN: a community of accelerators, partners, and investors, helping startups build businesses & make a meaningful impact, wherever they call home. (things to note: no investors listed)
Hamster Connect: a global social networking platform that helps start-ups and founders to match, connect and communicate with investors, incubators, and service providers. (things to note: only startups are listed on the website)
VC4A: an ecosystem builder that leverages its infrastructure, network, and expertise for the programs that contribute to Africa’s startup movement. (things to note: upcoming deadlines for accelerators in Africa listed on the platform)
Two main problems I hear about from the clients (impact entrepreneurs) are as follows:
no time for approaching funds/impact investors
the approached funders/impact investors do not provide any feedback
Interestingly, online impact investing platforms/tools do not seem to be a solution for any of these problems. I provided sector-based lists of impact investing opportunities to all the clients while beta-testing LeanVentures and every single one of them still opted for funding advisory services/individual guidance.
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