The social startups MAN Truck & Bus will support as part of its MAN Impact Accelerator initiative have been selected: In the future, eight up-and-coming companies from Europe, India, and South Africa will be able to count on MAN experts and other partners’ specialists to help them turn their business idea into an economically viable reality. Plus, by providing the infrastructure required and footing the bill for travel costs, the commercial vehicle manufacturer will also help the startups to network with fellow social entrepreneurs and to learn from each other.
What all shortlisted ventures have in common is their commitment to social issues. All eight were founded with the aim of taking a savvy approach to digital technology to get on top of the transportation and logistics problems that have emerged in the course of global urbanization and increase in population around the world.
The MAN Impact Accelerator aims to give startups considerable impetus to grow further by coaching and lending its expertise, thereby creating a solid foundation for a sustainable business model. MAN has joined forces with Yunus Social Business, an initiative founded by Nobel Prize winner Professor Muhammad Yunus, to bring this program to life. MAN had received applications from around 80 companies by October 1, 2017. An intense assessment process followed, before the Company narrowed it down to eight startups. MAN representatives, the shortlisted startups, and Professor Yunus then met for the first time at the Global Social Business Summit in Paris.
The list of selection criteria included aspects like the ventures’ business model, initial success, and, of course, whether their idea brings more value to society, along with how strong the entrepreneurial team is. The next steps over the coming months will involve analysing the startups’ needs more closely, selecting the right experts from MAN and other partners to act as mentors, and putting together a work package.
The following companies have been chosen:
- COMMUT – a tech-enabled shuttle service for office workers in Hyderabad, India.
Aim: to provide safe, comfortable, and affordable public transport for commuters whilst guaranteeing a basic income, job security, and funding opportunities for the microentrepreneur drivers
- MELLOWCABS – a microtransport company in South Africa.
Aim: to build, produce, and operate ultralight electric taxis providing an efficient and emission-free service for transporting passengers and goods in city areas.
- GETTRUCK – a freight marketplace in South Africa. The company started off providing trucking services to customers moving house.
Aim: using an app to match customers to available trucking capacity in the transportation sector to eliminate empty runs and partial loads and guarantee work for the truck drivers (small business owners).
- FARMART – a startup specializing in providing an online marketplace for unused agricultural machinery to small farmers in India.
Aim: Small farmers rent out unused agricultural machinery to fellow farmers in their area on a pay-per-use basis, which drives down costs for vehicle owners and increases their income. At the same time, this means that more smallholder farmers in India can use machinery to help them in their work.
- CROWDCONTAINER – this Swiss company seeks to connect end customers with local farmers in developing countries.
Aim: Several consumers use a crowd-ordering platform to place direct orders, for instance with a coffee farmer. A container is shipped once enough orders have been received. Because the supply chain is completely transparent and because no intermediaries are involved, the farmers receive a higher price.
- COUNTRY DELIGHT – Indian startup COUNTRY DELIGHT follows a similar approach.
Aim: Consumers can use the COUNTRY DELIGHT app to order their milk products and have them delivered directly from the farmer. Small farmers receive a better price for their milk products, whereas delivery agents have the chance to make a living as microentrepreneurs.
- KRISHI TRADE – this Mumbai-based Indian startup offers smallholder farmers direct access to global markets via a digital marketplace.
Aim: Customers from the Middle East and South Asia who want to place large food orders are connected to aggregated online auctions. Smallholder farmers can use this platform to offer their goods directly, receiving a considerably higher income by cutting out the middle man.
- STANPLUS – a digital platform for ambulances and emergency medical services.
In India, as well as in other developing countries and emerging economies, being able to receive first aid quickly is not something that goes without saying. STANPLUS, a startup from Mumbai, operates its own ambulances, which it then pools together with other ambulance services, for example those offered by hospitals.
Aim: Efficient and swift provision of emergency medical services should save lives. This platform is intended to solve the problem of hospitals going “patient shopping”, a term used in areas where hospitals pay their ambulance services based on how “profitable” the patient is.
About the MAN Impact Accelerator program
It is currently estimated that the number of people living in urban areas will have increased to between nine and eleven billion by 2050. The developing countries and emerging economies of today will account for over 90 percent of this predicted growth figure, which goes hand in hand with enormous challenges, especially when it comes to the transportation of people and goods. Another issue is the need to provide the requisite infrastructure to rural areas in developing and emerging economies, many of which still remain off-the-grid. The world’s poorest people are already having to spend around eight percent of their income on transport, compared to the four percent recorded in industrial conglomerates. In the spirit of equality, it is imperative that we fundamentally reassess the systems that are currently in place, come up with new models, and develop these further to suit specific needs.
This was the main idea behind the MAN Impact Accelerator, a program the Company launched in cooperation with the Yunus Social Business initiative. As part of this program, the Munich-based truck manufacturer supports innovative concepts developed by startups, provides mentors and infrastructure, and offers access to its global network. The concept at the heart of the Accelerator involves a structured, curriculum-based support program featuring workshops, mentoring, and coaching. In doing this, MAN endeavors to encourage its own employees to bring their specialist expertise to the table and get involved in the Company’s social projects as mentors. In order to make the most of best practice experiences, participating startups also visited other companies and mentors in Munich, Mumbai, Cape Town, and San Francisco over a period of six months. In turn, mentoring the startups offers MAN the opportunity to discover new ways of working together with different players, which it can then use as the basis on which to develop new avenues and strategies for its own work.
About Yunus Social Business
Yunus Social Business was founded by Nobel Prize winner Muhammad Yunus and has already implemented just shy of 20 Accelerator programs. These programs gave rise to the expertise and core community of over 300 renowned mentors from around the world, which can now benefit the startups involved in the MAN Accelerator. At the same time, the program also gives so-called “impact investors”, i.e., investment funds for companies generating social impact, access to a global network.