Startups unite technology and citizen participation to promote social impact

In times of political crisis and social disbelief, two Brazilian startups awarded by Google launched strategies for citizen participation through technological tools: an application for signing bills and a method of rounding up a market account for change to go to NGOs.

Both initiatives won the second edition of the Challenge of Social Impact, conducted in 2016 by Google in Brazil to support non-profit organizations that use technology to generate social impact, in which each project received R $ 1.5 million.

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One of them, Arredondar, is a São Paulo startup of philanthropic donations that allows consumers to round off payments in physical stores and donate change to NGOs.

The project has partnered with over 530 stores and, since winning the Social Impact Challenge, has already raised more than $ 300,000 for organizations.

“Arredondar selects and accredits NGOs from diverse causes, including health, education, citizenship and diversity, with the differential of transparency in online accountability to the consumer that contributed,” Efe told startup operations director Maria Berer .

The project came from a group of people who sought different ways to raise money for philanthropy six years ago and is not yet self-sufficient, with Google’s award as their main source of funding and having the collections published in real time on the site (www.arredondar.com). .org.br).

The São Paulo startup raised about R $ 7 million in donations to 40 NGOs with approximately 70 thousand people impacted.

The outlook towards the end of the year is to expand the portfolio of benefited organizations to 70, be included in new means of payment, and reach out to more market networks that offer visibility to action.

The model is designed for retailers, where customers decide freely whether or not to donate, and so the focus is to train attendants so they are “drivers” of this type of donation.

“Companies contribute to transform how people see the act of donating in Brazil, because NGOs are not in everyone’s daily life, and this highlight of their work is to show an invisible Brazil being brought into a buying and donation relationship,” Berer said.

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With the same perspective of social impact through technology, ITS Rio startup in March launched the “Mudamos”, application of signing of bills of popular initiative that had more than 500 thousand downloads in less than two months without any advertisement .

“We live a deep crisis of confidence and one of the ways to solve it is to use technology to propagate democracy,” Ronaldo Lemos, director of ITS Rio, told Efe.

“We were number one in the online application stores and we were surprised, because this shows interest in civic participation. The result was the sending of seven thousand bills to the Congress,” he argued.

Users can also suggest bills by the platform created with the aim of changing the current situation, in which Brazil has no popular initiative bill effectively dealt with as such, due to the difficulty of verifying paper signatures.

“The app is voluntary and the key point is that there is a sense of detachment from the society of its representatives, so any way to have their voices heard or participation in the decisions make people want to participate,” said Lemos.

“We believe technology is a way to restore confidence with our representatives,” he added.

For the winners, Google announced on August 14 that it will make a new investment of R $ 1 million to be distributed in media for development of the actions.

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