By Dan Blystone, April 28th 2021
Worldcoo was founded in 2012 by Sergi Figueres Moret and Aureli Bou as a new way to fund social, cooperative and development projects. The Barcelona based company has now grown to facilitate funding of a wide range of non-governmental organization (NGO) projects through e-commerce, banks, restaurants and retailers. Condis, Ticketmaster, Telefónica and Banco Sabadell are among the household names currently working with Worldcoo to help fund a variety of high-impact projects. Through Worldcoo’s ‘social rounding’, businesses can offer their customers the option to round up their ticket and donate the cents to a social cause each time they use their card.
Even if it’s just a few pennies that are donated, through scale these micro-donations really add up to something substantial. To date, Worldcoo has raised €7,428,135 from 23,555,705 donors, directly benefiting 596,004 people. 511 individual projects have been funded.
Initiatives address issues including human rights, disaster relief, water and energy, poverty, education, the environment and health. Emergency relief in the Congo led by Médecins Sans Frontières and Access to Drinking Water in India led by Water For People are two examples of projects that are currently being funded.
Participating companies can choose the project that they would like to sponsor. Worldcoo then provides the API’s (the software intermediary that allows two applications to talk to each other) that allows clients to add donations to help fund the selected charity project.
In 2010, you had founded an NGO to carry out cooperation projects related to engineering. You encountered a common theme of problems relating to funding among NGO’s. Can you talk about that and how it led to the genesis of Worldcoo?
Yes! In 2010 we founded an NGO to carry out cooperation projects in engineering, but we soon realized that, like us, there were many organizations focused on developing projects that could solve large-scale problems in the world, but just a few of them were focused on how could fund all of these projects in an efficient, elegant and sustainable manner.
That’s why we decided to create a new fundraising channel for all of these projects. A different path that doesn’t depend on the government and brings value to all involved. Our idea was to create a new technology that could unite a new fundraising system – crowdfunding – with a sector that was growing around the world, e-commerce.
In early 2014, Banc Sabadell and business angels brought in your first round of funding. Based on your experience, can you share any advice for new startups in the process of securing funding?
We think that for these first steps of funding it’s basic that startups have a clear mission and vision about themselves: a purpose, a clear objective. Then, it’s very important to prepare a clear business plan and anticipate when you could need the funds, when you will need the investment rounds and how many of them you will need. Also, we would say, investigate about the investors and select those who you think will better fit in your project.
Certified B Corporations are a new kind of business that balance purpose and profit. Can you tell us about why Worldcoo decided to be part of the B Corp movement? What commitments does having the B Corp certification represent?
We consider ourselves as a social organization and it is true that sometimes it is quite difficult to describe, not now, but many often in the past. In 2015 we met the B Corp movement and we soon realized that we should be part of this movement. We were one of the first companies in Spain of being part of Bcorp, now there are more than 100 Bcorps in Spain! ☺
Being part of B Corp certifies that you – as a company – have the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose. The B Corp community works toward reduced inequality, lower levels of poverty, a healthier environment, stronger communities, and the creation of more high quality jobs with dignity and purpose. We love to say that “Bcorps are not the best companies in the world; they are the best companies FOR the world.”
In 2015, Unicef signed an alliance with Worldcoo for its online financing strategy, with a specific technological development. Can you tell us more about this landmark in your company history?
When you are starting a new project, it is very important to count on the support of different partners. As you know, our objective is to help NGOs to fund their projects. Being able to count on Unicef’s collaboration from our beginnings has brought us many opportunities. Now Worldcoo has agreements with more than 450 local and international NGOs! ☺
Worldcoo participated in the European Commission Horizon 2020 project. Can you tell us a bit about the program and how it impacted Worldcoo?
Horizon 2020 is the biggest European Commission Research and Innovation program. From 2014 to 2020, this program contributed to addressing key social challenges, promoting industrial leadership in Europe and strengthening excellence in science.
In 2016 Worldcoo was one of the 9 Spanish companies selected among nearly 1.000 organizations candidates to being part of this program! Thanks of this, we have been able to invest in technology, increase our team and, definitely, develop new fundraising, such as the Charity Rounding Up. Also, being part of this program has also helped us to increase our visibility around the world and to be able to close new agreements with international partners.
Worldcoo states that donations go to fund projects, not organizations. Can you describe why you feel it is important to place emphasis on projects rather than organizations?
Transparency is one the main Worldcoo’s values. We consider that is essential that both customers and companies know in total transparency where the funds are going on, and also, are able to track every cent donated. Every time we start a new project, we prepare an online site where everyone who is involved in can have access to information regarding the activities that the project involves, the main objectives, beneficiaries and so on. It’s basic that everyone involved in have access to information about the concrete project that has helped to fund, it guarantees transparency and loyalty. That’s why we always say that Worldcoo helps to fund projects, not organizations.
In 2017, Worldcoo moved into the offline world, with the launch of the ‘Social Round Up’, allowing customers to make micro-donations by card at physical commercial businesses. Can you describe what took place for Worldcoo when you ventured offline?
Well, jumping into the offline world has been a landmark in our history. It has helped us to increase the numbers of donations and, also, our visibility. With the Charity Rounding Up we have closed some of our biggest partnerships.
For example, in 2020, there has been a 91% increase in donations compared to last year, that 5.7 donations had been registered. The increase in donations received during 2020 has to do with the incorporation of new companies that have enabled the Charity Rounding Up on their payment gateways.
Can you share any of your plans and objectives for 2021?
Yes, our main aim for this 2021 is to internationalize our solution in countries such as Italy, Portugal, Ecuador or Andorra, where we have already started. Also, since one year we count on another colleague in Rome, Rosella, who is already working in order to start to implement our Charity Rounding Up system in the country.
Your stated goal is to help people in need and to make a better world together. Worldcoo is one of several socially conscious Barcelona startups. Local innovators such as Heura Foods, Incapto Coffee and TAPP Water are all environmentally focused and pushing for positive change. Have you had a chance to meet any of the founders of these forward thinking local companies?
Well yes! As a part of B Corp, we often participate in different meetings and initiatives together with many more Bcorp companies, with a clear focus on pushing for positive changes. We’re happy to see that Bcorp community is getting every time more bigger and we’re proud to see that new startups aimed at generate a social impact are increasing a lot. And we think it has to do a lot with the fact that consumers and clients are asking for companies with social values.
Thank you very much for participating in this interview and we wish Worldcoo every success.