This is the generation of entrepreneurs that will achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), as such more needs to be done to boost impact investing and to accelerate entrepreneurs in emerging markets, according to Alisée De Tonnac, co-founder and chief executive officer (CEO) of Seedstars World.
Speaking at the fifth annual Seedstars Summit in Switzerland last week, De Tonnac said there is still a long way to go to reach the SDGs set out by the UN by the target date of 2030, however, it is “the right time” and the current generation of millenial-entrepreneurs is pushing forward toward the goals, particularly in emerging markets.
“We many times believe the term millenial is a developed world concept. But actually most are located in emerging markets,” De Tonnac said.
According to the Seedstars co-founder, thanks to globalisation, social media, and the prevalence of internet, millenials are connecting more and more, and have very similar attitudes around the world.
“It’s a generation of entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurs who are much more comfortable with technology, are extremely impatient […], but also quite positive about the future – making them the main drivers of change. So it’s no wonder that entrepreneurship is more and more seen as a sign of success. Because they are witnessing the leapfrogging that is happening around them,” she said.
While impact investing is on the rise worldwide, De Tonnac said more investment should be allocated to impact, especially given the increasing number of entrepreneurs in emerging markets. However, she concedes to boost impact investing, better investment opportunities are needed.
“What we realise is that there’s too few opportunities because the startup ecosystems are too nascent, making it difficult to absorb more capital.”
In order to build better and more opportunities – opening the door to more investing – a focus needs to be put on accelerating talent, De Tonnac said. This can be through events, workshops, mentoring, and through accelerator programmes.
“I’m not saying every entrepreneur needs to be accelerated, or that every accelerator is good. But what we do see, what we have witnessed, is that in the more nascent ecosystems, these type of instruments actually make a big difference,” she said, noting that as an example, accelerated startups have a higher chance of fundraising on their first attempt.
Seedstars alumni are still a long way from achieving the SDGs, De Tonnac conceded. But having created 2,000 jobs, and made US$70 million in revenues, the multiplier effect of these startup successes should not be underestimated.
“Impact can be profitable. Doing good can make money. And this is the generation that is going to reach the SDGs.”