Caregivers caring for children, the elderly, and the sick or disabled operate in an archaic system that is ripe for innovation, experts say, and worth an estimated $648 billion.
A new study published by Pivotal Ventures attempts to better understand this market. A national survey found that carers spend an average of 45 hours a week on unpaid care responsibilities, and almost half also work full time.
Pivotal Ventures, a company founded by Melinda French Gates and based in Kirkland, Wash., is launching its Move Care Forward campaign on Tuesday to share caregiver data and promote innovation and policy in the space.
“We have a really outdated healthcare system. She is broken. Tools and resources for caregivers have been out of date for a very long time,” Dr. Renee Wittemyer, Pivotal’s director of program strategy and investment, said in a GeekWire interview.
Pivotal works with partners to support entrepreneurs in the “care economy”. He helped back venture capital firm Magnify Ventures’ inaugural $52 million fund announced in May. Magnify invests in technology to help families, household operations, the future of work and aging. In 2020, Pivotal partnered with Techstars to launch the annual Future of Longevity Accelerator which focuses on startups focused on aging adults.
This spring, Pivotal commissioned a survey of 1,500 Americans who provide unpaid care. About two-thirds of respondents said they sacrifice their own professional and educational ambitions and well-being to provide care. There are approximately 50 million caregivers in the United States.
Women disproportionately take on unpaid care work, which can hinder their career success and diminish their power in the workplace and in politics, advocates say.
“Entrepreneurs, employers and governments all have a role to play in building a system that allows people to do good with their families while meeting their own needs,” French Gates said in a prepared statement. .
French Gates, who is also co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, in 2019 committed $1 billion to improve gender equity. Also that year, she published her book, “The Moment of Lift: How Empowering Women Changes the World“.
The efforts of entrepreneurs in the care economy are gaining momentum.
Pacific Northwest startups in the industry include LegUp, which helps parents find daycare and other programs; Weekdays, a support platform for families looking for microschools; and Nanny Parent Connection, a local community of parents, nannies and babysitters. Notable businesses outside the region include Papa, a service providing ‘on-demand grandkids’ to older people, and Kinside, a childcare matchmaking site.
“We see more innovation in this space,” Wittemyer said. “We’re just seeing more and more growth over the last couple of years, especially [and] it was amazing.