17 Top Companies working on the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals
By Cyndi Fontyn
In September 2015, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development that includes 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Building on the principle of “leaving no one behind”, the new Agenda emphasizes a holistic approach to achieving sustainable development for all.
The 17 SDGs are: (1) No Poverty, (2) Zero Hunger, (3) Good Health and Well-being, (4) Quality Education, (5) Gender Equality, (6) Clean Water and Sanitation, (7) Affordable and Clean Energy, (8) Decent Work and Economic Growth, (9) Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure, (10) Reduced Inequality, (11) Sustainable Cities and Communities, (12) Responsible Consumption and Production, (13) Climate Action, (14) Life Below Water, (15) Life On Land, (16) Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions, (17) Partnerships for the Goals.
We have found 17 inspiring entrepreneurial companies from around the globe whose curiosity has led them to question current systems and develop ethical and sustainable business practices with some of these SDGs in mind.
Working towards Sustainable Development Goal number 1: No Poverty.
TESOBE is a Berlin-based company behind the Open Bank Project, an open source API platform that connects banks with active communities of developers and partners for innovation.
Over 1,7 billion people worldwide are excluded from the benefits and entitlements provided by access to a bank account, the Open Bank Project believes that money is in essence a social fiction that can and needs to be rewritten to include everyone and address poverty worldwide.
Working towards Sustainable Development Goal number 2: Zero Hunger.
Avant Meats is the first cultivated fish company in Asia, with operations in Singapore and Hong Kong. Thanks to Avant’s technology which uses state-of-the-art cultivation processes that are sustainable and scalable, they will be able to create fish meat without killing fish. Their cultivated fish products are more nutritious than conventionally produced fish, GMO-free, and pollutant-free. The pilot product focus of Avant’s technology platform is fish and seafood tailored for the food culture of consumers in China and Asia.
With their product, they want to show it is possible to serve people sustainable meat and protein without slaughtering animals.
Working towards Sustainable Development Goal number 3: Good Health and Well-being.
Project Circleg is a Swiss-East African social impact business empowering people living in low- to middle-income countries to enjoy the freedom of mobility through prosthetic technologies. What started as an industrial design project to create an affordable prosthetic leg system from recycled plastic has developed into an endeavour with enormous potential for social and ecological impact.
From the production chain to the organization and the business model itself, Project Circleg shows that success depends on maintaining a holistic approach, something that remains hard in a business world that keeps pushing for simple marketing messages and unique selling propositions in products.
Working towards Sustainable Development Goal number 4: Quality Education.
NewTechKids is a technology education academy in Amsterdam dedicated to igniting the problem-solving capabilities and innovative spirit of children. Their programs teach primary school children computational thinking and the fundamental concepts which power technology, programming and information in the digital age. Gadgets, applications, software and hardware change continuously, the core concepts don’t.
PreparationTech is an online platform which harnesses the power of storytelling to showcase the wide variety of study, training and career paths which intersect with technology. Students and their parents, caregivers, teachers and school guidance counselors gain information and insights which help awaken them to the possibilities of technology and plan promising futures.
Both enterprises share the aim of transforming children from passive technology users into tech builders and creators — making sure they are ready to be more than tech consumers, applying technology to shape the future.
Working towards Sustainable Development Goal number 5: Gender Equality.
Ida Sports is an enterprise who makes football boots for women. They exist to prioritize high performance and comfortable footwear for athletes who have traditionally been an afterthought. They believe you should have a greater choice and access to the best equipment when you step onto the field. They strive to empower women and girls to play the sports they love without equipment holding them back.
The founder, Laura Youngson, also set up Equal Playing Field (EPF), a non-profit initiative to challenge gender inequality in sport and to promote sports development for girls and women globally, especially in marginalized country contexts. Through its players, coaches, referees, mentors and partners, so far, EPF has representation in 32 countries on 6 continents, all dedicated to elevating the conversation around women in sport and impacting genuine change at the elite and grassroots levels.
Working towards Sustainable Development Goal number 6: Clean Water and Sanitation.
The UN estimates that 1.8 billion people will experience water scarcity by 2025. Since 2017, Majik Water has deployed projects in Kenya, South Africa and India, providing sustainable water solutions for Fortune 500 corporations and pairing with community impact projects deploying 20,000 litres of drinking water per month to drought-stricken regions.
The current system which captures water from the air and converts it into drinking water using solar technology can generate up to 10 liters of filtered water per day. The team is working to increase that to 100 liters per day and reduce the costs to produce.
Working towards Sustainable Development Goal number 7: Affordable and Clean Energy.
Sono Motors is a community-supported enterprise that makes solar-powered electric vehicles accessible to everyone. They believe in mobility free from fossil fuels and it is their mission to accelerate the transition towards sustainable mobility by making every vehicle solar.
The Sion, their second prototype which is almost ready for production at the time of writing, is more than a car. On the one hand, it is a sustainable mobility concept — free of fossil fuels. On the other, it aims to change the way we think about the role of mobility and the ubiquity of cars in our daily lives. With the car’s solar panels, it partly powers itself; and once fully charged, its bi-directional charging technology can power other devices. Its design promotes shared ownership and ride sharing.
True Price and the Impact Institute
Working towards Sustainable Development Goal number 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth.
When we buy goods, often, natural and social costs are involved. For example, natural costs are air pollution or water waste and social costs could include extremely low wages or unsafe work environments for workers. This damage has a price for people and nature which isn’t included in the prices you pay at the store. At True Price, they are working on a mission of making it possible for you to see and voluntarily pay the true price of products by applying tested methodologies for impact measurement and valuation to calculate the external costs throughout the supply chain. True Price also guides and trains companies towards implementing the true price practice.
Part of True Price is the Impact Institute who aims to provide an economy where everyday work, entrepreneurship, innovation, and technology lead to a better world. They develop open-source standards for impact measurement and valuation and provide organizations with the tools, training, and services to implement them.
Working towards Sustainable Development Goal number 9: Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure.
The online incubator, Bridge for Billions, has supported over 2,700 entrepreneurs from 99 countries and offers a development program based on three pillars: learning-by-doing methodology, one-to-one guidance from mentors, and a global community of purpose-driven entrepreneurs.
They believe that no matter the country, area of innovation, socioeconomic level or gender, entrepreneurs who want to develop sustainable and innovative solutions to solve the problems that truly matter should have access to the right support and resources. By supporting the development and creation of startups at the right stage together they are able to take innovation to where it has never been before and generate decent growth and job opportunities for all.
Working towards Sustainable Development Goal number 10: Reduced Inequality.
Kwara is a digital banking platform for savings and credit cooperatives in Kenya. By digitizing these community banks, they are showing how technology can be leveraged for communities who are often excluded from traditional banks.
They set out to help build financial independence the best way they knew how, by empowering existing saving cultures to grow and thrive in the 21st century. Their mission is to make building wealth together frictionless.
Working towards Sustainable Development Goal number 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities.
For 10 years, makesense has been creating tools and programs for collective mobilization to enable citizens, entrepreneurs and organizations to take action and build an inclusive and sustainable society.
They have always had a deeply held conviction that every person is capable and worthy — if given the time to learn — of making informed decisions for the common good. Thanks to their citizen mobilization efforts they will inspire, equip and train hundreds of thousands of people each year to take action, until they have mobilized 10% of young people in 2030.
Working towards Sustainable Development Goal number 12: Responsible Consumption and Production.
Excess Materials Exchange is a digital marketplace that uses AI and blockchain to give waste a second life, offering companies practical solutions for the circular economy by exchanging any excess materials and products.
They are determined to accelerate the global transition to a circular economy — and play a part in creating a more viable planet. By showing the financial and ecological value of materials they challenge companies to design and produce their goods in a more efficient and circular manner.
Working towards Sustainable Development Goal number 13: Climate Action.
Too Good To Go is a global company that aims to inspire and empower everyone to take action and build a movement against food waste. Through a simple app, Too Good To Go connects stores to consumers who pay a small price and come to the stores to pick up food that would otherwise have been thrown away. They dream of a planet with no food waste.
They talk about the collaborative economy and how linking people together creates horizontal power and accelerates impact.
Working towards Sustainable Development Goal number 14: Life Below Water.
ECOncrete is a company creating environmentally-sensitive concrete solutions designed to develop rich and diverse marine life and counter the negative effects of using concrete in coastal areas. By changing the composition, texture and designs of the concrete they produce, the team has created products that can be used by ports, waterfronts, breakwaters and piers to reduce their ecological footprint, and be resilient while fostering and preserving biodiversity.
They are a fast growing international company supplying concrete technology to over 40 marine infrastructure projects all over the world — and counting.
Working towards Sustainable Development Goal number 15: Life On Land.
Bij Afscheid, is a Dutch business that is embracing death as a part of life; looking at the healing beauty of reclaiming our own rites of passage and offering a different perspective and alternative to the conservative and money-making funeral industry.
They believe a funeral reflects a love for life: from a ceremony in your own garden to a funeral in the woods, there can be more options than most people know. There also needs to be much more awareness of what we leave behind on the planet after we die.
Working towards Sustainable Development Goal number 16: Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions.
Earthbanc is a green, digital, banking and investment platform which is ‘aligning individual wealth with planetary health’ and offers climate finance at scale.
They strive to be the world’s most accurate and precise carbon platform where you can purchase fully audited carbon credits, or choose to invest in carbon removal. Their investment thematics include blue carbon, sea grass meadows and kelp, marine conservation, agroforestry, renewables, social capital projects, large scale reforestation and also the prevention of deforestation. They are regenerating the planet, supporting communities, and enabling sustainable finance to scale up to meet climate and biodiversity challenges.
Working towards all of the Sustainable Development Goals with post-growth.
Radically Open Security is a non-profit computer security consultancy with an idealistic bunch of security researchers, networking and forensic experts that are passionate about making the world more secure. They believe in transparency and openness, and their goal is to secure the society that allows us to run a company in the first place.
Post Growth Entrepreneurship (PGE) reframes business as a form of activism, art, spirituality, and creative expression. This business model embraces flat growth curves and rejects the need for investors, scaling, and exits. PGE questions entrepreneurial “common wisdom” and re-envisions business as a vehicle for pure positive impact.
Want to know more?
Meet the people behind each of these social impact enterprises in our podcast: What If We Get It Right? with Tessa Wernink, Season 1.
Discover how people can lead our world in a new direction and look at where we may be getting it right.
Start a project with us by writing to email@example.com