For a new startup accelerator in Chicago, doing social good doesn’t necessarily mean being a nonprofit.
Impact Engine, which announced its first class of startups today, sorted through over 175 applications from for-profit companies with positive social or environmental impact. As managing director Chuck Templeton explains, for-profit startups can keep their focus on the product by making money or raising it from VCs, rather than being dependent on grant applications and donations.
Impact Engine’s 12-week mentorship program provides $20,000 in funding and office space at the 1871 incubator in Chicago. Here are its first eight startups:
Azadi: Creates biodegradable menstrual products for women in rural India.
Collaborative Group: Helps artisans from places like Africa, India, and Guatemala make a living by selling their goods to retailers in the United States.
Effortless Energy: To help more consumers adopt energy-efficiency upgrades in the home, they offer a reduced energy bill along with those upgrades.
Ithaca Education: Creators of CERCA, a tool for teachers to offer personalized literacy education and track results according to federal standards.
Light Up Africa: Creators of The Zoom Box, which helps Kenyans generate energy for small devices (like phones and lamps) by attaching it to moving objects (like bikes or livestock).
POMS: Helps provide credit to the “underbanked” population who cannot afford the fees of traditional bank accounts or credit cards.
PortAPure: Creates affordable water filters for global populations without reliable drinking water.
Raise5: A “microvolunteering” platform where you can donate a small service (such as editing a resume, drawing a picture, or designing a logo) in exchange for $5 for your favorite charity.