10 September 2021

Tech for good actors, pioneers of tomorrow's economy

Tech for good actors, pioneers of tomorrow's economy

In a rapidly changing economy where tech has become ubiquitous, the pioneering entrepreneurs of tech for good have been asking themselves what role they want their business to play. Like entrepreneurs in all other sectors, and called social and ecological impact entrepreneurs, many leaders of start-ups and tech companies have decided to use the general interest as a compass for their activity.  

As in the rest of the economy, tech players are claiming their commitments: "tech for good", "tech for values" or manifestos are flourishing. How can we identify truly tech for good solutions? Who are the entrepreneurs of this 3.0 economy? How do they organise themselves to influence economic debates?  

Tech for Good: putting tech at the service of the general interest

As of 2019, tech for good entrepreneurs have gathered within FEST (France Eco Social Tech), which then became the Tech for Good France community by joining the Impact France Movement. This gathering of entrepreneurs made it possible to define more precisely the contours of tech for good and its principles of action.  

"Impact first": the great values of tech for good

Two visions of tech for good currently coexist. They can be summed up as a difference between the "for impact" and "with impact" players. On the one hand, impact is the core activity, on the other, it is the deployment of the tech solution that is intended to be virtuous.  

Like social and ecological impact entrepreneurs in the rest of the economy, tech for good entrepreneurs differ from others in that they focus on solving a public interest issue, which is the purpose of their activity. Their main activity is to solve an identified social or ecological issue, particularly in the context of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The use of a tech solution is therefore a solution, a means to achieve this objective.  

For the pioneers of the Tech for Good France community, to claim to be tech for good, you need to combine the two characteristics: using tech for impact and with impact. Claiming to be a tech for good without pursuing a general interest objective means running a very high risk of greenwashing. Similarly, if a tech solution is deployed to solve an identified problem, it is consistent to design this tech with the impact dimension at the heart of its construction.  

This does not mean that companies that do not pursue a public interest objective are negative. It just means that they cannot sincerely claim to be Tech for Good.  

Main principles of action to combat "Tech for Good-washing

Gathered within the Impact France Movement and inspired by an Impact Score that identifies the criteria for becoming an impact company, the Tech for Good actors have created their own reference framework: the Tech for Good Score. The specificity of the Tech for Good Score is that it is the first tool to determine the degree of commitment of the tech solution. Two pillars have been identified by the Tech for Good pioneers: a social pillar and an ecological pillar. They combine with the impact strategy revealed by the Impact Score.  

Social Tech: for an inclusive tech for good

The pioneers of tech for good have defined inclusion as an essential part of building a tech for good solution. This means, for example, designing a tech solution that is accessible to all. Code techniques or the choice of no-code tools can help develop products that are accessible to people who do not master the codes of digital technology, or to people with disabilities.  

To score well on this pillar of social tech, you also need to think of your company as a place of inclusion. The Tech for Good Score considers the share of women in tech teams. The proportion of employees with disabilities and from the inner city is also identified. These indicators help to create a more inclusive and diverse ecosystem.  

Social tech is also tech that respects high standards of personal data collection and protection. Finally, there are indicators concerning open source: tech for good companies defend replicable and scalable models.  

Green tech: for sustainable tech

Tech for good players are also pioneers in terms of the ecology and sustainability of their solutions. The aim is to achieve a certain sobriety in usage and energy consumption. To achieve this, the choice of eco-design and specific development techniques are encouraged. The training of the tech teams in these techniques is also evaluated by the Tech for Good Score.  

Similarly, the Tech for Good Score also makes it possible to question the sustainability of the tech solution. Thus, the pioneers recommend developing circular economy channels and favouring second-hand products to limit the quantity of highly polluting and difficult-to-recycle waste. Finally, the Tech for Good Score values the sustainability of the tech solution with an indicator that sanctions programmed obsolescence.  

Claiming a positive ecological externality is therefore not a realistic objective for a tech start-up, but the Tech for Good Score indicators make it possible to reduce its carbon footprint while developing new circular economy circuits in particular.  

The Tech for Good France community, leader of the Impact France Movement  

Like their low-tech and no-tech peers, tech for good actors have come together in a movement to share good practices and continuously improve, but also to make their voices heard and have a say in the debates.  

Tech for Good France: more than 250 organisations involved:

Tech for Good France is in fact more than 250 organisations which, although not all of them are strictly speaking tech for good, share values and an ambitious vision of their sector and which are committed to making progress on the Tech for Good Score indicators. This community brings together all the pioneers of tech for good, such as Simplon, Latitudes and Vendredi, as well as companies that are committed to making progress, such as Le Bon Coin, Stuart and WebForce3.  

The members of the Tech for Good France community are in permanent contact, thanks to a dedicated Telegram channel, which allows them to exchange and share good tips and news from the sector, as well as to give each other advice on good practices. The mentoring offered by the Impact France Movement to connect established entrepreneurs and impact economy start-ups is also used by the community to help scale up certain entrepreneurs.  

The Tech for Good France community is particularly supported by the impact funders who are members of the Impact France Movement. In addition to the mapping of impact funders made available to all members, but also in open source, the members of the Community are on the front line during the funders' meetings organised by the Movement in parallel with the Universités de l'Economie de Demain. This proximity allows entrepreneurs to easily know and solicit funders during their fundraising.  

This community is led by 5 ambassadors who drive this dynamic and embody the advocacy proposals. They are Mélanie Marcel (SoScience), Julian Guérin (Vendredi), Alexis Angot (Ynsect), Jean Guo (Konexio) and Manon Léger (Latitudes).

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