Shopify wants to make ecommerce better for everyone. The Ottawa, Canada-based company has come a long way since 2004, when it began as an online store selling snowboards. Today, it is a cloud-based multichannel platform and employs more than 11,000 people. More than 2 million small and midsized businesses in 175 countries use the Shopify platform, which provides online retailers with access to services, including marketing, payments, shipping, and customer engagement tools.
The company is committed to reducing barriers to business ownership by making it easier for anyone to start, run, and enlarge their businesses. It offers tools for businesses to expand and educational resources for current and aspiring entrepreneurs. The firm’s efforts focus on groups that have faced systemic barriers to building and maintaining successful businesses.
Shopify is committed to helping more Indigenous entrepreneurs’ businesses move online, hire more Indigenous people, and promote Indigenous businesses globally.1 That support includes offering culturally and locally relevant education on ecommerce, providing free access to the Shopify platform for six months, and making financial contributions to help its partners with these efforts to expand their programs. Some of the partners that Shopify works with in support of this commitment include the following:
- EntrepreNorth empowers Indigenous and community-based entrepreneurs to build sustainable businesses and livelihoods across Northern Canada.
- Raven Indigenous Capital Partners, Canada’s first Indigenous-led and -owned social finance intermediary helps to direct some of the capital from impact investing to support the ongoing revitalization of the Indigenous economy.
- Rise2025, which is a New Zealand-based global coaching and leadership movement, is working to positively affect 100,000 Indigenous women by 2025.
- Te Whare Hukahuka is a group of New Zealand-based social entrepreneurs determined to use innovation as a way to positively affect the lives of Indigenous people.
While the firm’s support of Indigenous people stems from its commitment to helping underserved groups, Shopify also recognizes that it was founded on Algonquin-Anishinaabe Nation territory.
Shopify is working to build the next generation of technology and entrepreneurship by investing in computing education.2 In seeking to achieve this goal, Shopify provides support to a number of initiatives, including the following:
- Technovation Girls brings together teams of girls who spend 12 weeks finding ways to use technology to solve real-world problems. Shopify has already supported more than 4,500 girls across Technovation chapters in Canada, and the program has expanded to Brazil, Ireland, Germany, and the United States.
- Linked> is a hands-on program that teaches young people science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) through activities conducted at Boys and Girls Clubs.
- STEMing Up is a program that, in partnership with hEr Volution, offers a four-week course to teach coding and entrepreneurship to high school girls in at-risk socioeconomic situations.
In 2021, Shopify’s efforts with these initiatives reached 7,730 students.3
Diverse and Underserved Communities
Shopify engages with organizations to support communities that have historically been excluded from significant participation in the tech sector.4 Some of the partners and programs it works with in this effort include:
- The Ladybug Podcast is hosted entirely by women and brings new voices to the tech industry while promoting inclusion in technical careers. Shopify is an ongoing sponsor of the podcast.
- The Black Professionals in Tech Network aims to bridge the talent gap in the tech sector by providing Black professionals with access to executive sponsorship, skill building, and a strong peer network.
- The One Million Black Business Initiative (1MBB) works in partnership with Operation HOPE, a charitable organization dedicated to improving financial dignity and inclusion to support the launch of 1 million Black businesses by 2030.5 Black business owners in the United States can sign up for a free 120-day trial of Shopify and access tailored education programs designed to fast-track their launch and growth. More than 31,000 Black entrepreneurs have signed up for this free trial. In 2021, Shopify also initiated the 1MBB Pitch Competition to further this objective. Grand prize winner Capable Clothing won $250,000 and a complete web redesign and brand refresh.
Committed to Sustainability
Shopify wants to ensure that the entrepreneurs it supports can enjoy a sustainable future, and [it has been generally viewed as a trailblazer in publishing literature on—and promoting the fight against—climate change. It spends $5 million annually on promising, impactful technologies and solutions to fight climate change globally. It launched its Sustainability Fund to contribute to a low-carbon future for the planet.6 The fund is divided into two portfolios: Frontier and Evergreen. The Frontier Portfolio supports groundbreaking technologies and companies—such as Heirloom, Carbon Engineering, and CarbonCure—that remove carbon from the atmosphere and store it for the long term.7 The Evergreen Portfolio focuses on companies, such as Grassroots Carbon and Pachama, that are striving to reduce carbon emissions through the use of renewable power and clean fuels or that are working to temporarily remove carbon by deploying nature-based approaches like soil carbon storage and reforestation.8
Shopify, which has been carbon neutral since its inception, purchases carbon offsets to cover its entire operational footprint. The firm has also purchased renewable energy certificates for its office buildings and employee home-office electricity use around the world. Shopify’s platform runs entirely on Google Cloud, which means merchants’ online stores are powered by renewable energy. The firm has purchased carbon removal for all its corporate travel. In 2021, it also became the largest corporate purchaser of direct air capture carbon removal globally.9
Shopify’s efforts have brought measurable results. As stated in its most recent sustainability report (for 2021), Shopify has committed $17.5 million to innovative carbon removal startups and purchased 300,000 tons of carbon removal and 29,000 tons of long-term carbon removal.10
Sustainable Development Goals
The Sands Capital six investment criteria tend to lead us to businesses that are innovators or vital facilitators of change in industries undergoing significant transformation. Shopify is one of many portfolio businesses that create impact by addressing at least one major social or environmental challenge identified by the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Shopify businesses directly address SDG 8, Decent Work and Economic Growth; and its commitment to entrepreneurship education addresses SDG 4, Quality Education; and SDG 10, Reduced Inequalities. Its environmental impacts fall under SDG 7, Clean Energy; and SDG 12, Responsible Consumption and Production.
1 “Shopify Partners With Indigenous Organizations Reducing Barriers to Entrepreneurship,” Shopify.com.
2 “Technology needs more voices,” (Key Programs & Partnerships for Computing Education Outreach) Shopify.com.
3 “2021 Sustainability Report,” page 14.
4 “Technology needs more voices,” (Example Partnerships for Community Care) Shopify.com.
5 “2021 Sustainability Report,” page 15.
6 “2021 Sustainability Report,” pages 38 and 39.
7 Heirloom, Carbon Engineering, and CarbonCure are not holdings of any Sands Capital strategies.
8 Grassroots Carbon and Pachama are not holdings in any Sands Capital strategies.
9 “2021 Sustainability Report,” page 36.
10 “2021 Sustainability Report,” page 39.
The business profiled was selected based on its reported alignment with one or more U.N. Sustainable Development Goals. The views expressed are the opinion of Sands Capital Management and are not intended as a forecast, a guarantee of future results, investment recommendations, or an offer to buy or sell any securities. The views expressed were current as of the date indicated and are subject to change.
This material may contain forward-looking statements, which are subject to uncertainty and contingencies outside of Sands Capital’s control. Readers should not place undue reliance upon these forward-looking statements. There is no guarantee that Sands Capital will meet its stated goals. Past performance is not indicative of future results. A company’s fundamentals or earnings growth is no guarantee that its share price will increase. Forward earnings projections are not predictors of stock price or investment performance and do not represent past performance. The specific securities identified and described do not represent all of the securities purchased, sold, or recommended for advisory clients. There is no assurance that any security will continue to be owned by Sands Capital Management. You should not assume that any investment is or will be profitable. All company logos and website images are used for illustrative purposes only and were obtained directly from the company websites. Company logos and website images are trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective owners and use of a logo does not imply any connection between Sands Capital and the company.
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