Balancing revenue, impact remains the top challenges faced by social impact startups


The theme of social impact is taking over the centre stage in the Southeast Asian (SEA) tech startup ecosystem this year, with social enterprises being in the spotlight, but challenges remain for companies that are working in the sector.

Quest Ventures shares its insights on the biggest challenges faced by startups in the social impact sector.

“Startups will face the challenge of balancing impact creation and business growth, aligning expectations of stakeholders and business partners, and getting their investors to better understand how impact can translate into enterprise value,” says James Tan, Managing Partner at Quest Ventures.

“With sustainability coming into focus in these few years, the challenge may be slowly mitigating, but investors should put teeth in their commitment to sustainability and impact by actually investing in and supporting the growth of impact-driven startups … Together with our local and international partners in the startup investment ecosystems and social sectors, we are able to support the startups in expanding beyond the local market and pulling together resources to replicate and scale.”

Alfie Othman, CEO of Singapore Centre for Social Enterprise, raiSE, explains the challenges that social impact companies are facing: “According to a study on The State of Social Enterprise in Singapore that raiSE conducted in partnership with the British Council in 2021, the top three challenges faced by social enterprises are customer acquisition and market development, access to financial support, and building internal capabilities.”

“We continue to partner with Quest Ventures to provide promising, socially impactful startups with the support they need to improve their competencies and access regional and global markets for the second cohort of the accelerator this year. The Sustainable Impact Accelerator’s first cohort has proven successful – with companies pitching to over 2,000 investors, corporates, and government organisations within the programme’s first three months. We are always heartened to see participants benefit from the programme, whether it be scaling their business, growing their impact, or gaining footholds in new markets,” says Othman.


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