Impact 20

Since 2015, Fortune’s Change the World list has showcased companies that do well while doing good. The companies that make that annual list are generally relatively big, and battle-tested: They’ve proved over time that they can use the profit motive to help the planet, and that their ideas can scale up for maximum impact.   But in the digital era, technology can be a tremendous force multiplier for smaller, newer companies. And that fact has enabled venture- and private-equity-backed startups to make a meaningful difference in tackling society’s most vexing problems.   That’s why this year we’ve created a new list called the Impact 20. It’s dedicated to recognizing young companies that are already making people’s lives better, even as they fine-tune and road-test their ideas in capitalism’s laboratory. Think of the Impact 20 as a preview of the Change the World companies of, say, 2023.   In compiling the Impact 20, we focused on companies that have matured to the point where they have customers and revenue. (For more about how we chose the list, read our methodology.) They range from “unicorns” with multibillion-dollar valuations, long track records, and hundreds of employees (like digital freight network Convoy) to scrappier, smaller businesses such as food-access app Propel and ed-tech startup Upswing—each of which could fit its entire staff on a single bus from electric-vehicle pioneer Proterra. What do they all have in common? They’ve turned the combination of profit and purpose into a foundational principle.