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3 Reasons Why a B2B Startup Could Be Your Pathway to Advancing Social Change Why B2B startups should be at the top of the list for entrepreneurs looking to make a difference through social impact.

By Gregor Stühler Edited by Matt Scanlon

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

As the world confronts urgent public health and environmental challenges, a growing number of entrepreneurs are launching ventures that aim to both turn a profit and solve social problems. The boom in these "social impact" enterprises includes mission-driven companies like sustainable shoemaker Allbirds and plant-based meat producer Beyond Meat. Money is now flowing into sustainable startups at a record pace, the investing market hitting a record $715 billion in 2020, according to the Global Impact Investing Network's "2020 Annual Impact Investor Survey."

Are these growing ranks of purpose-led startups truly making a difference? Measuring organizational impact is always challenging, but establishing accountability is even more complicated when social objectives depend on consumer choices. A recent Capgemini Research Institute study illustrates some of the contradictions: While 79% of respondents indicated that they consider sustainability when making purchases, most lacked awareness of the actual environmental or social consequences related to everyday products. But it's wrong to place the blame squarely on well-intentioned consumers, given a 2021 report by the International Consumer Protection Enforcement Network (ICPEN) that indicates up to 40% of brands' sustainability claims may be misleading. For many, social impact is simply the latest buzzy marketing trend.

Mission-driven founders should not throw in the towel just yet, however, as there is widespread and growing demand for business-to-business (B2B) solutions that drive sustainability goals. Responding to regulatory pressure and burgeoning interest for environmental, social and governance (ESG)-focused investing strategies, leading companies like Apple and Amazon are making bold commitments toward specific and measurable sustainability targets on issues from modern slavery to greenhouse gas emissions.

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