8 Social Good Startups Join the Impact Engine Accelerator

August 8, 2012

2:00 pm

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.

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Kira M. Newman is a Tech Cocktail writer interested in the harsh reality of entrepreneurship, work-life balance, and psychology. She is the founder of The Year of Happy and has been traveling around the world interviewing entrepreneurs in Asia, Europe, and North America since 2011. Follow her @kiramnewman or contact kira@tech.co.

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