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MAN lends a helping hand to social startups

-First MAN Impact Accelerator completed successfully
-MAN employees and experts from other companies coach seven startups
-Second batch of the program in the pipeline

The CEO of MAN Joachim Drees is discussing with participants of the MAN Accelerator program
The CEO of MAN Joachim Drees is discussing with participants of the MAN Accelerator program

MAN Truck & Bus has successfully completed the first MAN Impact Accelerator. The main idea behind the program? MAN employees support social startups with their specialist knowledge as these develop their business models. The program aimed to identify new approaches to alleviate poverty with the help of innovative transportation and logistics solutions and to provide targeted support to these social entrepreneurs and their projects.

What were originally 80 applicants became teams of entrepreneurs working in the fields of mobility, logistics, and supply chain management in Europe, India, and South Africa. At the heart of the Accelerator initiative is the six-month mentor program run by MAN employees and developed in cooperation with Yunus Social Business. Experts from companies like Google, Salesforce, Uber, and Amazon were there to support the MAN mentors.

What all these startups have in common is their aim to use needs-driven business models to provide sustainable solutions to problems faced by society. Three entrepreneurs from India, for example, are developing a software platform with their own fleet of ambulances to make the provision of first aid a simpler and faster process in the future, while their South African counterparts are working on ultralight electric vehicles for a zero-emission service in urban areas.

Joachim Drees, Chief Executive Officer of MAN Truck & Bus AG, describes the program as a complete success: “We take our social responsibility seriously, so we want to pass on our transportation and logistics expertise to those it can benefit. By creating the MAN Impact Accelerator initiative we help selected startups in their quest to solve acute societal problems.”

The fact that the entrepreneurs managed to increase their revenue by 127% on average, raise funds of around $2.2 million in total, and double their customer base are all testament to the Accelerator’s success. The startups’ success stories show that the MAN Impact Accelerator model works. In light of this, MAN will be continuing the program in cooperation with Yunus Social Business and opening applications for the second round of the Accelerator in fall 2018.

Participants in the MAN Impact Accelerator:

  • 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.
  • 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 million 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.

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