The (Google) search for sustainable startup founders is on.
Soon, the international tech company will begin accepting applications for its new Google for Startups Accelerator, which will provide training, tech support and more to “social impact startups working to create a healthier and more sustainable future,” according to the official announcement.
Kate Brandt, the chief sustainability officer at Google, says the program is “designed to address the unique challenges founders face when building a social impact company” like access to funding or scaling up. She adds that emphasis is on sustainability because “when businesses and investors work together with government, nonprofits, communities and individuals, we can make real progress.”
Founders and their startups will be selected based on how well they address the United Nations’ stated sustainable development goals of eradicating poverty and hunger, improving access to clean water, encouraging responsible consumption and more. Eight to ten firms from Europe, the Middle East and Africa will be selected for the six-month program, set to begin in early 2020.
When reviewing submissions, Google might want to keep an eye out for one group of founders in particular — through our reporting, we’ve seen scores of women lead the way on finding creative business solutions to pressing ecological and societal problems.
For example, Traci Phillips’ business, Natural Evolution, thrives by recycling dead cell phones, washed-up computers and old dot-matrix printers so they can’t clog landfills and release toxic substances into the environment.
Priscilla Debar, meanwhile, is the founder of Faubourg, a growing ecommerce site for sustainable fashion that targets a diverse customer base. “We’re talking about the future of the planet — there shouldn’t only be one type of beauty represented” in sustainable fashion, she says.
Beyond forging unique paths to tackling a shared issue like climate change, and galvanizing others into action, there is clearly money to be made by backing these women-led sustainable startups. Pamela Marrone proves it — her venture, Marrone Bio, is a publicly traded $21 million company that develops natural pest-control products as alternatives to controversial pesticides.
And these female founders are just the tip of the iceberg — so it would be wise for Google to take an especially close look at the women entrepreneurs who apply to their accelerator.