Sister duo Frances Atkins and Naomi Vowel co-founded givvable, a platform that helps companies discover and source sustainable suppliers has won the inaugural Xccelerate2020 venture program introduced by the Commonwealth Bank of Australis’s X15 Ventures in July 2020, securing prize money worth US$ 300K from CBA and Microsoft. Apart from the US$ 150K in funding from CBA and US$ 150K worth in technology, equipment, and software from Microsoft, they’ll also join Microsoft’s Social Entrepreneurship Program.

givvable is a tech platform for sustainability professionals, procurement managers and employees making buying decisions. It helps users find suppliers quickly, while also judging and tracking the impact of their spending. The startup lifts the never-ending burden on SMEs(small & medium enterprises) by mapping their impact to environmental, social & governance (ESG) indicators and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Companies can contact suppliers via message, request quotes, create shortlists, receive smart recommendations and get a dashboard view of the impact of their spend.

The idea for givvable came out of the sisters’ desire for promoting sustainable practices. CEO Frances Atkins said many sustainable suppliers are mainly small and micro businesses who often struggle to form contact with corporate buyers due to lack of access, resources, and knowledge of corporate due diligence processes. givvable is on a mission to remove these obstacles. Atkins was quoted to say, “With changing investor and consumer expectations, companies are looking to procure in an environmentally sustainable and socially impactful way. There are a growing number of wonderful small businesses out there going to great lengths to embed sustainable and ethical practices into their business. Now with the coronavirus pandemic, they are faced with a whole range of other challenges.”

The CEO further said that the support from X15 and CBA will assist givvable in developing its sustainability-tech and make it easier for businesses to source more sustainably, and follow the impact of that spending.

X15 Ventures is Australia’s leading technology venture building entity that was launched by the Commonwealth Bank of Australia on 3rd February 2020. The bank partnered with Microsoft and KPMG High Growth Ventures to set forth X15 Ventures. Microsoft brought its platform and engineering competence to the initiative, while KPMG provides advisory services. X15 Ventures’ aim is to launch 25+ businesses by 2024.

Xccelerate is a fast-tracked program for Australia’s experienced entrepreneurs and startup teams that receives support, guidance and access to X15 Ventures’ consumer base and distribution channel through X15 Ventures. The program invites candidates to put forward ideas that would improve the financial welfare of small businesses. Nine ideas were selected out of which four were invited to pitch in front of a board of judges, with X15 Ventures and Microsoft autonomously choosing a winner for their respective grants.

The topic of this year’s Xccelerate program was bettering the financial wellbeing of small businesses. Innovation Bay, Microsoft and KPMG High Growth Ventures were also part of the four-week program, organized remotely in the current pandemic situation. X15 Ventures Managing Director Toby Norton-Smith said the sister duo enthralled him with the quality of their thinking, the progressive mindset of their business and their passion for the same.

Smith said, “We think Xccelerate is a unique program – above the cash contribution, we want the bigger benefit for givvable to be the experimentation, learning and ultimately the commercial benefit of accessing CBA as both a customer and potential distribution channel to 800,000-plus small business customers. When we kicked off Xccelerate we wanted to make some contribution to allow small businesses like givvable to bounce back, and I think givvable will help do that.”

Such venture programs are the need of the hour and highly essential for the upliftment of small businesses. X15 Ventures is proving to be a boon for SMEs and we need more such initiatives that help budding entrepreneurs while also making a social change.

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