In today’s business environment, Social Responsibility is a growing priority as concerns about climate change, diversity, and business ethics become more prominent topics of discussion. The term Social Entrepreneurship has been given to companies whose missions are not purely monetarily driven but instead incorporate a Triple Bottom Line. This means they put people and the planet before their profits. We defined social startups more broadly: as companies that are, in some way, making our world a better place.
Thanks to various entrepreneurs, organizations and events, a variety of Barcelona social startups have sprung up in recent years. One of the most recent events was Barcelona’s edition of Global Startup Weekend Sustainable Revolution which gathered entrepreneurs, experts, and startups in order to cultivate innovative business solutions for a more sustainable tomorrow. The prominent IESE Business School has for the last 16 years hosted the Doing Good Doing Well Conference, which has now become Europe’s biggest event in responsible business. This event along with the IESE Responsible Business Club serve as conduits for communication and collaboration for social enterprises.
Finally, the foundation Ship2B is also a huge perpetuator of Barcelona social startups which accelerates and invests in high impact startups in the city. Since their foundation in 2013, they have already helped raise €30M in funding for over one hundred social startups. From such a progressive ecosystem here in Barcelona, countless inspiring social startups have emerged. Here we list the most exciting social startups in Barcelona.
Top Barcelona Social Startups
Social Coin and its sister company Citibeats are perhaps some of the most revolutionizing tools for civil engineering and city planning. Citibeats analyzes social trends and concerns using AI to allow public intuitions to better make decisions based on the needs of the people. Social Coin also works to incentivize community involvement. In 2015, it was selected as the best inclusion and empowerment project worldwide by the United Nations’ World Summit Awards and the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 Program. Since its foundation in 2013, they have raised €1M in funding.
Focused on improving the one necessity that every living thing needs, water. Tapp Water’s mission is to empower people to easily access clean and healthy water with minimal environmental impact. They have done this by creating a biodegradable water filter that attaches straight to the faucet. With €2.5M in funding already raised in just 3 years, they are rapidly expanding their ability to provide clean and sustainable water filters to all.
Foods for Tomorrow has formulated a new kind of plant-based protein that will be sure to fool your taste buds. Their mock meat has all the mouth-watering flavor but without any of the associated guilt (from eating unhealthily, eating another mammal, or for the giant carbon footprint it entails). With the meat industry being the largest contributor to global warming, Foods for Tomorrow is empowering people to do their part without changing their habits. Founded only two years ago in 2017, they have already positioned themselves well in the market, and in our stomachs too.
Founded in 2011, Boolino’s mission is to promote worldwide learning by turning kids everywhere into voracious readers. By creating an online platform about children’s books and reading, they help parents strengthen their bonds with their children through shared stories. In addition to that, by encouraging children to read, the startup also helps young people to develop open and critical minds. They have received a total of €1.7M in funding, including some from Ship2B.
This social startup has set its sight on the caregiving industry. Unparalleled home-nursing service that doesn’t break the bank isn’t their only purpose. They are also redefining how caregivers are valued by employing fair wages and proper training. Qida pride themselves on charging 20% less than the competition while still paying their caregivers 15-20% above the average. After recently being founded in 2017, It received its first funding last November (2018) to the tune of €1.2M.
BeChallenge is a new e-learning platform designed to cultivate the “soft skills” of students from around the world to be better equipped to solve today’s issues. BeChallenge engages students through challenge-based learning and then evaluates them based on creativity, collaboration, and communication. On top of teaching today’s children these advantageous skills, they also teach about business ethics and sustainability. Each project offered relates to real-world problems surrounding sustainable development. Like the other newcomers, Bechallenge was also founded just two years ago in 2017.
Another Barcelona startup that definitely belongs on this list is BraiBook. With the only device of its kind, this firm has made a handheld portable braille reader, capable of simultaneous listening. It enables people to learn braille as well as modernizing the way people read braille. Moreover, the company has also developed a tool that converts any document, regardless of format or language, into the Braille alphabet. Started in 2016, BraiBook has had two rounds of investment so far.
Everyone in Barcelona knows about these vibrant scooters buzzing around the city. eCooltra, which has expanded outside of Spain to Italy and Portugal, started here in Barcelona in 2015. This company was one of the first of its kind, paving the way for those that followed. eCooltra has reinvented the way city dwellers commute within the city. With a fleet of almost 5,000 electric scooters spread across 6 cities, you’re sure to find one less than a five-minute walk away that you can rent for short 10-minute ride to the beach. Aside from its convenience, all their scooters are 100% electric which means no toxic emissions and a reduced carbon footprint. Despite only having one round of funding, they still managed to get a cool €10M.
Yego is a provider of electric scooter sharing services that was founded with the mission to revolutionize urban transportation. They bring a new level of efficiency to urban transportation which means cheaper and faster travel for citizens and better travel for the environment. Yego offers 100% electric, eco-friendly scooters with style. They raised €2.4M in funding via three investment rounds and are currently available in Barcelona, Valencia and Bordeaux
This Barcelona Social Startup has digitalized the treatment of type 1 and 2 diabetes. Those of you reading this with a history of diabetes know the pain of logging all your daily blood sugar information in an old-fashioned paper book and then making critical decisions without any help. SocialDiabetes has developed a platform that eases the daily hassles of diabetes and improves results. They do this by helping patients by managing their treatment and providing personalized insights with actionable information. What’s more, it also helps improve communication channels to healthcare professionals. From their start in 2013, they have raised nearly €2M, the majority of which came from the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 grant.
With 2020 rapidly approaching, Barcelona social startups have their eyes fixed on our future. This new growth of social enterprises has reinvigorated our hope for what’s to come. We hope that Barcelona will continue to be a hub for such innovative and honorable entrepreneurs.