Sustainable Development and Sustainable Development Goals don’t just belong to social enterprises or charitable businesses. They need to belong to all of us. As a leader in the development of new ways to tackle old, emerging and future challenges to society and our environment we must begin to use a common language that connects us to the challenges we face in our communities, in our nations and globally.
The UN’s Sustainable Development Goals provides us with such a language and a framework where everyone can see how they fit in the greater picture. SDG’s focus all of us – whether we are helping to create startups or investing in them – on learning how what we do matters to those around us and on the world we share.
iAccelerate began this journey five years ago as we realised that as long as environmental and social challenges belonged to someone else that we would never be able to make the impact that we so desperately need. To think that “doing good” is only for social enterprises to deal with ensures a two-track system that provides too many of us who are dedicated to innovation with a “pass” when it comes to looking at our impacts and our responsibilities.
We decided that we needed to change this way of thinking so we teamed up with our business school to create a learning module that would be targeted at startups going through our accelerator/incubator to inform them of SDG’s and to explore where their impacts were across the 17 categories. What we found out was astonishing: Not only did it awaken founders to their impacts but it also provided several with insights on how to improve their businesses. In our first survey of 39 startups, we found that every one of the 17 SDG categories was being addressed by at least two startups!
SDG’s are now part of our acceleration program and every startup must report on these annually and we also expect to see an SDG “declaration” slide in every pitch deck. For our part, iAccelerate issued its first cumulative report and will continue to do so every year along with our economic indicator report.
We now invite everyone working in or with startups to join us in this commitment to learning about SDG’s and to make them an integral part of what we all expect to be measured and reported on. We also urge investors to make SDG information an application requirement for funding.
At iAccelerate, we are ready to work with others on an open-source module to teach and report on SDG’s with any organisation that is interested. Working together, we hope to provide momentum for SDG understanding and reporting so that we can, at last, have a universal language that allows everyone to see how they take responsibility to help create a meaningful, positive impact on the world we share.
Note: iAccelerate is a startup accelerator/incubator at the University of Wollongong. We are supporting the transition of regional communities to a more resilient future with broader economic opportunity. iAccelerate is proud of a diverse team and that nearly 50% of our startups have at least one woman founder.