Seedstars, a pioneer on positive impact measurement in emerging markets

July 9, 2018

5 years of impact at Seedstars

As is now customary, Seedstars recently published its annual booklet for the year 2018. This year had a particular ring to it however as the Swiss company celebrated its 5th anniversary, a good opportunity to take an in-depth look at its impact so far.

Seedstars has expanded its influence to far -reaching markets, brought many more remote ecosystems closer to one another and the number of participants at the events has seen a 300% growth! Still, Seedstars has more to show than its global reach. Its impact is multidimensional and assessing it is not a simple endeavour. Though, it is the metric that concretely drives all Seedstars operations and activities throughout the world.

SDG Seedstars

The Sustainable Development Goals by the United Nations

A first impact report has been released in 2018

The Seedstars 2018 entrepreneurship report includes their first impact report with key metrics, designed to provide the reader with a concise yet comprehensive view of the work achieved so far in the last 5 years.

Underlying those metrics is the DNA of Seedstars’ approach to a global impact. Its wide range of programs impact entrepreneurs in different degrees.

Some are targeted directly, such as the bursary students of the Seedstars’ Academy program, or the recipients of microloans from QuickCheck, a company built jointly by Seedstars and its Academy.

Seedstars also contributes to impacting people’s lives by accelerating companies that the group identifies as potential high-impact changemakers. These companies benefit from Seedstars’ investments and mentorship, which reflects in their positive survival rates.

Finally a large part of what Seedstars does is aimed at improving the entrepreneurial ecosystems in which they operate: through events, thousands of changemakers can connect and think together about innovative solutions for positive impact in emerging markets; through programs, they train entrepreneurs and corporates to make these solutions happen.

Impact measurement as a built-in component of Seedstars’ activities

The 2018 impact report is only the beginning of Seedstars’ impact measurement project.

Some of Seedstars’ portfolio companies, such as this year’s global winner of Seedstars World Competition Agrocenta, are already well-advanced in the measurement of their impact. Agrocenta for instance tracks and communicates the number of farmers reached by their solution and how much income they have helped them generate. Others, although fully dedicated to progress in important sectors, such as CMED in Health Tech or SolarFreeze in Energy Tech, are only starting to measure it.

Huge efforts are being put in place internally to quantify this impact better. In the near future Seedstars hopes to be able to track and communicate this impact in real-time. The company remains committed to the SDGs, but these are now being brandished everywhere and the extent of the commitment is not always clear.

Seedstars is thus currently working on developing its own metric and label of what it really means to make ‘positive impact’ in an emerging market.

"Even though the SDGs are very popular and give the right way to take actions, we observed that the SDGs are overused, not very specific and give an expiration date to very important objectives everybody should be concerned about. By creating proper metrics that really apply to the emerging markets specificities, hopefully we can better measure and iterate on the efforts." says Pierre-Alain Masson, co-founder and senior partner at Seedstars.

The Seedstars Index as a way to measure the entrepreneurial maturity of an ecosystem in emerging markets

This approach has already been applied successfully in the Seedstars Index, published and updated every year. The Index relies on data gathered during the world tour that happens every year during which more than 15 associates from Seedstars travel to 65+ countries and meet 2000+ entrepreneurs, investors, government officials and corporates from all over the world. The Seedstars index is a weighted average of several criteria designed to give a comprehensive measurement of the entrepreneurship culture, the suitability of the entrepreneurial environment and of the number of opportunities to start new entrepreneurial projects in the country. Each country visited gets a grade that represent the maturity of the entrepreneurial ecosystem.

Seedstars Index

Source: Seedstars Index report 2018

After five years, Seedstars has much to show in terms of analysis of the different ecosystems, and aims at always improving the measurement of both the positive impact and the entrepreneurial maturity of an ecosystem. Being at the centre of a vast network, the company has an affinity towards transparency, and will continue its activities following their internal motto “you can’t manage what you can’t measure”.

Seedstars Index GDP

Source: Seedstars Index report 2018

About the author: François Lafont has been studying the impact measurement of Seedstars as a consultant for several months.