What is tech for good and what is tech for good entrepreneurship?
Tech for good is the intentional use of technology to try and have a positive, measurable impact on the world. It's about using technology to solve big social and environmental challenges.
One of the reasons why technology is so valuable in solving those problems is that it can do it at scale. You can reach scale quickly using technology. And that's something that's never really been possible before.
Tech for good entrepreneurship
Tech for good entrepreneurship is about building mission-led organisations that are using technology to try and achieve those kinds of social and environmental goals.
It's about really having a passion for the problem that you're trying to solve and trying to build businesses that are going to be profitable as well as impactful. And that's what tech for good businesses, tech for good entrepreneurship is all about.
Tech for good solutions
Tech for good solutions have better unit economics and, if done responsibly, have massive potential to drive positive impact at scale.
If we look at the Sustainable Development Goals that have been in place since 2015, there's still massive need to accelerate progress towards achieving the SDGs, with no country actually being on track to achieving them.
The past couple of years, more social and environmental challenges have occurred: climate emergency, social injustices, especially when it comes to Black Lives Matter. More diverse voices coming to the forefront to actually shaping tech policies as well.
There is still massive human need and massive, sort of, potential for digital solutions to accelerate progress towards achieving the SDGs and to ensure that we maintain a sustainable planet, live healthier lives and build a better society.
Tech for good investment
There's growing interest in tech for good at the moment, especially amongst investors, and actually some quite mainstream investors are getting involved in tech for good.
But that means we have to be really clear about what is tech for good and what isn't tech for good, and what the relationship between the companies that are being backed and the investors is in terms of are they aligned.
We have to be clear that tech for good is about more than just avoiding harm. It's not just neutral. It's got to be intentionally positive for people and for the planet.
That's really important because if you take money from an investor, that's a relationship probably for the life of that company, of your company. You really need to be aligned with them to make sure that what you want to do, what you want to achieve is what they believe in as well.
Tech for good movement
Tech for good has developed as a movement. We've seen that it's important to differentiate between tech for good startups and non tech for good startups.
One of the most important things alongside that intentionality and that ability to have a positive impact is that you've also got to be able to make money.
You've got to have a business model built into the startup as well.
It's not just about doing good. It's about doing well as well.
That's something that sets apart tech for good startups perhaps from some of the not-for-profit things that are out there at the moment.
Sometimes those tech for good businesses can grow very fast. But with that comes some responsibilities as well. With tech for good, as well as being about intentional, about the positive impact that you want to have, it's also about acting responsibly as you scale.
What could be the unintended consequences of what you're doing? Are you treating your people well? Are you treating your suppliers as well? All of those kinds of issues are part of being a tech for good startup.
Tech for good support
So it's about what you do, but also about how you do it. As tech for good has grown, so has all the support and things that you can expect from investors and so on over the last few years.
When we look at the wider impact investing landscape, that's been gaining a lot of traction in the past couple of years. The tech for good investor ecosystem in particular is still very nascent. But in the UK and globally, there’s more and more actors and stakeholders getting involved and driving different aspects of the entire ecosystem.
There are funders who provide investment grant funding. There gareot particular agencies who provide technical services to build better, meaningful and purposeful products and services. There are policy stakeholders, governments getting involved in shaping tech good agendas to integrate better policies into communities locally as well.
The beauty of the tech for good ecosystem is really that there are so many various aspects of it and so many different players that combined together, it just prints a beautiful, sort of, landscape of different stakeholders collaborating and working effectively together.
Tech for good diversity
If tech for good is not diverse by design, it will be unequal by outcome, which is why it's very important that there is a particular emphasis on ensuring that you are actually addressing the needs of the users you're trying to serve.
With regards to the lean principles, being agile, being fast but not breaking things and really ensuring that whatever process you do and whatever approach you take is done responsibly, is hugely important to tech for good founders.
There are loads and loads of examples of great organisations that are driving tech for good.