From Unicorns to Zebras, to Zebras Unite

Social responsibility

From the left, Mara Zepeda, Aniyia Williams, Astrid Scholz and Jennifer Brandel. (Picture originally appeared in the New York Times article.)

TGS is a leader in responsible business

TGS is directing its strategy at becoming a leader in responsible practices. TGS is fostering worldwide collaboration between all member-firms for ethical and inclusive business.

While searching for similar empowering projects, TGS came across an article: “Zebras fix what unicorns break” co-authored by Astrid Scholz, active member of Zebras Unite and CEO & Cofounder of Sphaera. For further information, please find the article here

Zebras Unite was founded by four female entrepreneurs for entrepreneurs in 2016. Zebras Unite is an advocacy organization that promotes alternative business models based on responsibility and sustainability. According to Zebras Unite, their mission is to bring “together similar companies and develops financing alternatives so they can thrive and succeed”.

Aspiring to be Unicorns

The article “Zebras fix what unicorns break” challenged our perception about the start-up culture and how venture capital businesses dominate the world today.

You and I alike have heard of Unicorns. Facebook is the first one that springs to mind. Uber is another. Unicorns are successful ventures that are privately held start-up companies that are valued at over one billion dollars. Coined by Aileen Lee, the term Unicorn was chosen to highlight the rarity of highly successful startups (and their unprecedented growth). Unicorns have a tendency of disrupting markets, creating institutional havoc, and placing other players in challenging situations: be gobbled up or self-disrupt.

Many entrepreneurs aspire to becoming the next Unicorns. However, hyper-competitive and rapidly evolving environments make it difficult for businesses to prosper and to compete with multinational venture capitalists. Something about how much capital companies need to start and continue growing.

Creating an ethical and sustainable model

Zebras Unite states that our economic model based on venture capital is unsustainable.  It is a moral necessity to create a new system. Zebras Unite is the basis for this new system by:

  1. providing a sustainable infrastructure that fosters alternative business models
  2. supporting inclusive, ethical and responsible businesses
  3. ensuring regenerative growth and positive impact.

A new system calls for a new symbol: The Zebra

So… what does it represent? According to Zebras Unite:

  • To state the obvious: unlike unicorns, zebras are real.
  • Zebra companies are both black and white: they are profitable and improve society. They won’t sacrifice one for the other.
  • Zebras are also mutualistic: by banding together in groups, they protect and preserve one another. Their individual input results in stronger collective output.
  • Zebra companies are built with peerless stamina and capital efficiency, as long as conditions allow them to survive.

How do Zebras compare to Unicorns?

Zebras challenge existing business models. What type of entrepreneur are you? How do you think we should contribute to this ethical and inclusive business movement? What can TGS learn from them?


Learn more about TGS responsible and sustainability practices

Other news


Empowering Professionals: Thematic Breakdown of the Upcoming International TGS Conference in Nice


Unlocking Global Growth: Key Insights from the TGS Regional Conferences 2024


Debunking Climate myths: climate change