*By Cassia Moraes and Vitor Alves - Youth Climate Leaders (YCL)
Accelerate2030 is a program co-initiated by Impact Hub Geneva and the UNDP, with a mission to scale internationally the impact of entrepreneurs working towards achieving positive social and environmental changes, contributing to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Youth Climate Leaders (YCL) is among the 35 startups selected for the Brazilian branch of the program, representing SDG 13 (Climate Action), with spin-overs on SDGs 4 (Education) and 8 (Decent Work and Economic Growth). The main goal of the acceleration is to help startups with high-impact potential to move forward and scale their impact globally, taking advantage of Impact Hub’s and UNDP’s networks.
Throughout the process, YCL will receive specialist support on leadership, impact measurement, scaling up, access to capital/investments and partnerships. After August 19, we will submit our scaling roadmaps for the global competition. There is also a DemoDay on October 24 to present to key players in Brasilia. And finally, 10 startups from the 16 participating countries will be selected to advance to the next phase in Geneva: 10 days of meetings and mentorship, including pitching at the Social Good Global Summit.
The first step of the program was a 4-day Bootcamp in Sao Paulo, where selected companies from all over Brazil represented 13 SDGs in total. Day one included lectures about Complex Systems and Networks, conducted by Reos Partners based on Adam Kahane's best-seller "Collaborating with the Enemy". We also discussed the Theory of Change methodology, a valuable tool for social business to evaluate whether their actions and new projects are aligned with the long-term change they want to create in the world. As an example you can find below our first theory of change (2018), currently under review to account for our scaling aspirations.
In the last century we entered the "Anthropocene" - an era in which the entire Earth system is influenced by human activities. Social enterprises as Youth Climate Leaders thus have the goal of scaling rapidly due to the urgency of the issue we are tackling. The UN launched a report last year stressing that we have about 11 years to take serious actions to revert climate change, otherwise we might not be able to do that anymore. Therefore, as our main goal is to train and connect young people to unleash climate action, we have to consider such time framing on our plans. Another difference of social enterprises compared to "normal" ones is that increasing our (positive) impact is our main goal, whereas financial stability is the means to achieve it.
In this scenario, social enterprises rely on additional indicators to evaluate their progress, so the Bootcamp presented several tools to identify and measure social and environmental impact. What can’t be measured, can’t be evaluated. Easier said than done: evaluating social impact can be very tricky and subjective. In our case, for instance, the total number of alumni, their origin and age are easy to gather information. How our learning journeys change the mindset of YCL Fellows, or their future professional path are also relevant data to define YCL's impact, albeit more difficult to estimate and collect. Nevertheless, using these tools allow us to keep track on our social impact, considering it in every decision we make as a company.
The final days focused on different options of investment, also exploring cases of hybrid organizations, like us, which combine both company and NGO features, thereby being eligible for donations. Differently from NGOs though, we organize our "interventions" as services, which allow us to generate revenues to sustain activities and, if we decide so, profits to attract investors as well. And unlikely ordinary companies, we set up our operations guided by the social impact, not by the maximization of profits. Speakers contended that one day maybe all companies will organize themselves that way, changing the economy and society as a whole.
Last but not least, we discussed how to improve our leadership on 10 different dimensions and we learned cases of successes and failures from other companies while scaling their business globally. More importantly, we left the bootcamp inspired, energized and with a clearer idea of the challenges and opportunities ahead of us. In this spirit, our team is traveling to Europe next week and we will stay until mid-August to advance partnerships for our scaling plan in the continent. We are coming to Germany, Portugal, Italy, and France. If you want to meet us or have suggestions of potential partners, please drop us a line!