Leveraging the SDGs to drive socio-economic value

June 30, 2020

A key take-away from the current COVID-19 pandemic is that it has no boundaries, and neither should our efforts to respond to the crisis, recover from its multidimensional impact and build better societies. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are a global framework for transformative change. It seeks to mobilize efforts to tackle the most pressing economic, environmental and social issues and lead the planet onto a sustainable and resilient path. The 17 interconnected goals provide a blueprint toward this transition. How can market-based approaches address the SDGs?

The SDGs
The 17 SDGs categorized into its respective pillar.

A SDG venture studio model

Each SDG represents a risk area that is already presenting challenges to society. These risks will grow exponentially if not addressed. The SDGs cannot be achieved without the commitment and transformation of the private sector. At Satgana, we provide an enabling environment for frontier innovators who strive to make a meaningful and ethical commitment to society and nature. Our core focus is to empower entrepreneurs to develop their ideas guided by the SDGs.

The incorporation of sustainability principles into a business model allows for the facilitation of dialogues with other disciplines resulting in a more comprehensive and relevant field. These principles serve to maximize opportunities of additional finance, technology and skills and minimize the negative impact their core operations may have on the environment. According to recent findings by Mckinsey & Company, SDG aligned business models have the potential to generate market opportunities by at least 12 trillion US dollars and increase employment by up to 380 million jobs by 2030.  

The SDGs and business in practice

A corporate social responsibility (CSR) study indicated that 90% of stakeholders would see the SDGs as a differentiator with the business they decide to engage with. Therefore, responsive and sustainable business models can bring great opportunity. It allows for the design of new markets, innovation, and global value creation centered around people and the planet.

The following organizations are a few of the for-profit, impact driven companies Satgana is inspired by. They illustrate the value of market-based solutions in response to addressing the SDGs and how innovative ideas for bottom-up development are both sustainable and profitable.  

Samasource was the first impact sourcing company in East Africa. Since 2008, they have lifted over 50,000 people out of poverty. Its goal is to equally distribute opportunity in the digital economy and pay workers a living wage.

Samasource hires people from developing areas to complete digital work. Through training, they have helped launch long-term careers that enable them to move out of poverty.

The current pandemic has exposed deep inequalities and gaps in our healthcare system. Companies such as BIMA have launched mobile health services to address the unmet need for quality healthcare in emerging markets. Since 2010 it has reached over 35 million customers. It represents a growing breed of companies that are removing barriers to quality healthcare for all.

Pachama has a mission to solve climate change through its use of technology. It verifies and monitors forest carbon projects, helping companies achieve carbon neutrality. This technology is used for remote verification and monitoring, providing a new standard of assurance in the impact of these investments.  

Patagonia, an American clothing company, uses their resources to act against the planet’s most pressing environmental issues. Its self-imposed 1% Earth tax provides support to non-profits working to defend our natural resources. An article that mentions “how Patagonia grows every time it amplifies its social mission” is a testament to the value of CSR in driving impactful growth, addressing risk and attracting capital.

Lydia, a financial services platform, provides access to funding for small businesses in emerging markets. It has disbursed over 20,000 loans across three continents, allowing businesses to expand and generate more income. These companies are tapping into abundant opportunities across the sustainability spectrum. They catalyze social mobilization and spur networks of expertise into action around issues related to the SDGs.  

Science, technology and innovation, together with financing for development, were identified by the UN as catalysts to achieve the SDGs by 2030.  Whether investing in fintech, climate tech, agritech or urban infrastructure, venture builders and the entrepreneurs they support, mobilize capital and technology to create a more sustainable and equitable society. Benchmark companies and their market-based solutions inspire us to accelerate and co-create solutions to development challenges. Satgana is proactive in the way we cultivate SDG-aligned ventures through our global network of partners. We hope to serve as a catalyst, helping frame future discussions of sustainability, and providing a starting point for businesses wishing to make a meaningful commitment to this area.