Impact startups – How to enhance a startup to increase its impact on the environment and society?

The Theory of Change is the foundation for calibrating our startup towards social and environmental tracks. How to do it? Join us together – Unsung Heroes and Infoshare.

We are the Unsung Heroes Foundation. In 2023, we conducted impact-focused startup incubation and acceleration programs – involving over 50 teams from more than 20 countries with a network of mentors from over 43 countries. All within one year. Our goal is to support people living in extreme poverty through technology – in collaboration with the Polish Humanitarian Action, Polish Medical Mission, Humanity First Response, MAP Afrique, and several other organizations. Without the involvement of public funds. We simply do it and have achieved numerous implementation successes in this field.

In today’s world, where social, environmental, and economic challenges are becoming increasingly pressing, social entrepreneurs have the opportunity to create meaningful change. But how can we ensure that our startup truly impacts the environment in a positive way? 

This question leads us to one of the most important concepts for social entrepreneurs – the Theory of Change. The Theory of Change is a tool that helps understand what steps need to be taken to achieve the intended social impact. It consists of several key elements. Here’s a link to a great video on this topic:

The first step is to deeply understand the problem we want to solve. It’s not just about analyzing symptoms, but also identifying deeper causes and understanding the social, economic, and cultural context.

The Theory of Change includes the following elements:

  1. Firstly, we address the problem we are targeting.
  2. We list the effects resulting from the problem.
  3. At the bottom, we list the reasons why the problem occurs.
  4. Finally, we modify the tree. We add our solution and show which causes it eliminates, how it reduces the scale of the problem, and what effects are achieved through our solution (positive climate and social effects).

See The Humanitarian-Tech Landscape

The impact approach can be not only a business model but also a philosophy of life. Striving to create positive change can become an integral part of our daily actions, both professionally and personally. Imagine traveling the world and seeing people in Africa, Asia, or Latin America benefiting from your technology. Soon, this could be your primary market.

In many cases, when we apply for grants for impact startups, every donor asks for a Theory of Change (!), so we need to have a very well-developed model showing the specific numerical effects of our solution on society. Among such institutions are USAID Development Innovation Ventures, Humanitarian Innovation Fund, Global Innovation Fund, and the French Fund Innovation.

And how do startups change people’s lives and help them break out of intergenerational cycles of poverty? We uncover solutions in this post:

Would you like to get to know us in person? Join us at Infoshare 2024! Infoshare is the largest conference in Central and Eastern Europe bringing together specialists in the latest technologies, business, and marketing. It’s not just an opportunity to gain knowledge but also to develop your startup. Every year, Infoshare organizes the Startup Contest – a competition that gives young startups a chance to be noticed and win attractive prizes. The most interesting projects at the seed or early-stage level, embodying the concept of Tech4good, will have the opportunity to showcase themselves on stage during this event and attract investor interest. Like Unsung Heroes, Infoshare supports ambitious and visionary entrepreneurs who want to live in a healthier, better world. The Startup Contest is an opportunity for founders of startups bringing something good for the environment and society to grow. Here is where you can apply: 

In summary, to enhance our startup and increase its impact on the environment, it is essential to apply the Theory of Change and systematically evaluate and improve our business model. Only in this way can we truly contribute to solving the greatest challenges of our time and creating a better world.