Out of the 50 applications for the Social Impact Accelerator, a total of 10 Zebra startups will participate in the three-month accelerator program that launched on April 29th. 

We are excited to support these Zebra startups on their growth journey:

SEET – Support Education, Empower Together
Root & Branch – Inclusion and Return
RegeMena Cooperative
INNTRA – Innovative Trauma Relief Access

Why zebras?

Until now, the mascot of the start-up world has been the unicorn: a fantasy construct with the motto of fast growth & selling to corporations at a high financial profit. Today’s social challenges call for an alternative form of entrepreneurship. A new generation of start-ups is therefore taking the zebra as a model. Zebra companies are both black and white: they have a self-sustaining business model and improve society at the same time. They will not sacrifice one for the other. Zebras work together: by joining together in groups, they protect and sustain each other. Their individual input leads to a stronger collective output.

The Social Impact Accelerator (SIA)

The SIA is an accelerator program that for the first time specifically supports Zebra startups in their growth phase. For these startups, growth means maximising their positive social impact, not increasing sales and profits.

Positive social impact and participation

Existing accelerator programmes usually aim primarily at maximising financial profit. This excludes many companies and hybrid forms of organisation such as cooperatives or associations. The SIA explicitly supports start-ups that focus on positive social impact and on participatory organisational structures and collaboration.

The SIA is a joint project of SENS and SEIF. With the launch of the SIA, the two organisations are closing a gap in the Swiss start-up ecosystem. The more than 50 applications for the SIA show that the demand for such programs is high.

Procedure of the Accelerator Programme

In a three-month programme, the start-ups are supported with weekly training sessions, networking events and individual support from experts and coaches. The focus of the Social Impact Accelerator is on the specific challenges of social entrepreneurs. At the end of the programme, the startups can present their impact-oriented business ideas to interested investors, philanthropists and partners at the Closing Pitch Night. The SIA is supported by the Migros Pioneer Fund and the Stiftung Mercator Schweiz.

Social Entrepreneurship

Addressing social challenges through entrepreneurial activity – that is the basic idea behind social entrepreneurship. Accordingly, social entrepreneurs define their business purpose in terms of a positive social, ecological or cultural impact. The social entrepreneurship sector has grown in Switzerland in recent years. An overview is provided by the Social Entrepreneurship Monitor Switzerland 2020.