As technology continues to advance, our connections with the world have grown stronger. With this stronger global relationship, there is a greater responsibility to react and respond to matters facing the world’s communities. Many people in the tech community have felt this call to action and are striving to make an impact on issues both far away and close to home.
Startups throughout the San Francisco Bay Area are hard at work reinventing the ways in which people interact with each other and live their lives. These socially-minded companies are prompting impactful change, whether it’s through political activism, youth scholarships, food sustainability or crowdfunded healthcare. At these 15 social impact startups in San Francisco, tech has the power to transform lives for good.
Social Impact Startups in San Francisco To Know
- Bayes Impact
Location: Rincon Hill
What they do: IDEO is a design and innovation organization dedicated to solving challenges in poverty and spreading human-centered design through the social sector. The company enables organizations to create and deliver innovative solutions to challenges rooted in the needs of people. Using the human-centered design process, IDEO works with organizations on projects relating to a variety of focus areas such as health, financial services, sanitation and gender equality.
Focus: Financial Services
What they do: Kiva.org runs a global marketplace platform for crowd-funded micro-loans to serve the financially excluded in various sectors. The company crowdfunds loans and unlocks capital for the underserved, improves the quality and cost of financial services and addresses the barriers to global financial access. Operating in 84 countries, the company is committed to driving social impact and enabling opportunity while providing a borrower-to-lender connection.
What they do: Raise.me is a social enterprise dedicated to expanding access to higher education, particularly among low-income and first-generation students. The company enables students to earn scholarships throughout high school for getting good grades, volunteering in the community or joining an extracurricular activity. Raise.me partners with various universities across the nation including Carnegie Mellon University, Georgia Tech, Syracuse University and Oberlin College.
What they do: Remix offers a platform designed to empower cities to plan the best possible transportation system. Working with more than 325 cities across four continents, the company helps cities plan transit, envision and design streets for the multimodal city and understand the impact of new modes. Using their own platform, Remix helps cities bring relevant transportation data into one place and visualize it in a way that makes it easy to understand and use.
Location: Mission District
Focus: Machine Learning + Data Annotation
What they do: Samasource is dedicated to delivering secure, high-quality training data and validation for tech teams driving humanity forward. The company specializes in video, image and sensor data annotation and validation for machine learning algorithms. Samasource is committed to expanding opportunity for low-income people through the digital economy, using their social business model to lift people out of poverty.
Location: Mountain View, Greater San Francisco Bay Area
Focus: Sustainable Food Production
What they do: Zume aims to create a smarter and more sustainable food system. The company uses real-time food consumption data and predictive analytics to help food companies better predict demand, connect it with production and drive better resource decisions down the food supply chain. In an effort to produce wholesome, affordable food on a global scale, Zume provides an end-to-end scalable platform that reduces the time and distance between clean food sources and dense population centers through the use of automation and transportation logistics.
Location: Design District
Focus: Public Service
What they do: Bayes Impact specializes in building citizen-led public services to make a fairer and more inclusive society. Within citizen-led public services, citizens agree to use transparent governance and allow the project’s impact to be measured, while a government agrees to help citizens gain access to the data they need for a social innovation project in exchange. Bayes Impact also offers a free online platform called Bob, which uses AI to help jobseekers assess and improve their employability with data-driven advice.
Focus: Renewables + Environment
What they do: Revivn is a social enterprise dedicated to repurposing used technology for empowerment and social good. The company collects outdated electronics, such as phones, computers and keyboards, to build out various initiatives to help people gain computer access. Revivn enables companies to integrate sustainability into their strategic planning and reduce the cost of maintaining a technology infrastructure.
Location: South Beach
What they do: Crowdpac is a political crowdfunding platform designed to help candidates, organizations and ordinary citizens fund change. The platform is free without startup or monthly costs, and potential candidates can raise no-risk pledges while declared candidates can collect donations directly to their campaign. Crowdpac also allows people to browse campaigns, which can be explored by popularity, percent to goal, state, issue, election year and more.
Focus: Digital Products
What they do: Countable builds digital products to make it easier for people to meaningfully understand, contribute to, and influence issues they care about. The company works with corporate brands, news media, political candidates and others to build community, grow and retain an audience and drive measurable impact. Countable’s Impact Hub serves as a bespoke platform for companies, organizations and causes, turning their audiences into communities and arming them with tools to meaningfully engage and take action.
Location: Marina District
Focus: Community Involvement
What they do: DiveIn is dedicated to making it easier to give back to the community through a versatile app. The company helps people discover meaningful events and volunteer opportunities, connect with nonprofits and share stories of their experiences to inspire others. DiveIn also offers services to companies who want to improve their volunteering programs, helping them discover opportunities, organize volunteer days, track their team’s activity and prepare a monthly report.
Location: Hayes Valley
What they do: Goodly enables companies to offer student loan debt repayment as an employee benefit, cutting down the time employees would be in debt by an average of 30 percent. By using Goodly’s services, companies have the opportunity to attract and retain top talent, hire faster and support a diverse workplace, while helping employees avoid compounding interest.
Location: Mission District
Focus: Consumer Goods
What they do: Nebia builds products that improve how people use water in their daily lives. The company has created a shower that saves up to 70 percent more water than traditional showers, which has so far saved over 100 million gallons of water. Nebia also sells sustainable shower shelves and a new spa shower, which has been designed for optimal warmth, rinsing and body coverage.
Location: Financial District
What they do: Watsi builds technology to finance universal healthcare by crowdfunding surgeries and providing coverage for primary care. Patients from around the world submit their stories to Watsi, and the company reviews and approves each case before posting a profile to initiate funding. 100 percent of the donations go to funding life-changing surgery.
What they do: Vote.org is dedicated to simplifying political engagement, increasing voter turnout and strengthening American democracy. The organization offers free mobile-optimized civic engagement tools, which include voter registration, absentee ballots, election reminders and pledge-to-register tools.