The movement is driven by entrepreneurs and leaders to run businesses that create value for the greater good and not only for stakeholders. To achieve the certification, companies need to account for every decision made, by demonstrating its social impact.
“People want to work for, buy from, and invest in businesses they believe in.” B Corporation
I first heard of the B Corp movement around a year ago. My brother, Octave Zangs, was setting up Tillak, an outdoor travel brand in Portland, Oregon, a Certified B Corporation®. There are currently more than 2,300 B Corporations in 130 industries in over 50 countries. The movement is driven by entrepreneurs and leaders to run businesses that create value for the greater good and not only for stakeholders. To achieve the certification, companies need to account for every decision made, by demonstrating its social impact. It can be a long and tedious process but one that every B Corp I spoke to, does not regret.
“During the process of becoming a B Corp we were enthralled to learn of the multitude of ways that we could improve - it made evident the many avenues we had to grow while maintaining our commitments to social and environmental responsibility. Such is the primary challenge with becoming a B Corp; there is this constant desire to improve upon your baseline certification score…at least that’s the case for us, and it’s a challenge that we appreciate having,” says Jason Fitzgibbon, co-founder of Tillak.
So becoming a B Corp was not a question for Zangs and Fitzgibbon. It was the only way they could build a brand living up to their values, believes and mission – a mission that generated more than $100k for non-profit organizations protecting local wildlife, old growth forests, rivers and much more in Oregon.
Their next big project is to launch a versatile waterproof backpack for anyone traveling and loving outdoor activities. They are raising money on Kickstarter (also part of the B Corp family) to start the production, and 25% of the profits generated by the campaign will be given to the Native Fish Society’s efforts to halt irresponsible timber harvest practices within the Siletz River Watershed and elsewhere.
The Siletz Backpack Giving Back To The Native Fish Society.Tillak
What’s Good For The Planet Wins Over Profit.
Recently, the startup AllPlants raised a series A of £7.5Million to expand their production of plant-based frozen meals. They already delivered more than 350,000 dishes in less than two years. Jonathan Petrides, co-founder of AllPlants, explains the reality of B Corp standards for a startup:
“Being a B Corp is hard because instead of a singular profit-centric model for every decision we make, we put profit last behind doing what’s right for our people and planet. For example, with how we source our ingredients, removing all non-recyclable materials, creating recycling returns programme, and working toward a zero-waste kitchen at Allplants and for people at home. All so hard, and particularly as a startup where we’re always cash-strapped. It’s tough to stand up for our values when its costs so much, but we want to do what’s benefiting our planet first.”
AllPlants Frozen Dish Made Sustainably in London.AllPlants
We could assume that this outlook would scare VCs... on the contrary. I spoke with Teddy Kim, Investment Principal at Mustard Seed, a VC investment fund certified as a B Corp. He told me that the investment landscape plays a huge role in social change and can no longer overlook its responsibility. Having been through the certification process, they understand the measures and requirements. Internally it provides them with a better overview of measuring social impact, and externally they benefit from being part of an extensive network via the B-Labs. Mustard Seed does not require its portfolio to be certified, but they only back ventures solving social issues, under a lock-step system where consumers, employees, and shareholders mutually benefit. Kim explains that companies committed to creating long-term social impacts have a more significant effect on the market as they can outperform profit-driven only businesses.
“Many companies are able to create real, lasting value by aligning their social and environmental activities with rigorous commercial strategy designed to mitigate risks, promote sales and decrease costs. We believe this is at the heart of a sustainable and effective model for social change and presents compelling economic logic.”
Mustard Seed Team.by Eliska Kyselkova
Mustard Seed seeks to profoundly affect the way society allocates capital, for social good. How are they paving the way for Europe? At WebSummit in Lisbon a week ago, they announced that they will be managing a €40 million social impact fund initiated by The European Investment Fund (EIF).
If you are considering pursuing B Corp certification, Fitzgibbon advises to do it as early as possible to build strong foundations. If not, the least you can do, according to Petrides, is to think socially, because it could be a shot at transforming our rapid race to an unliveable +2C warmer planet earth. On the investment front, Mustard Seed is proving that capital allocated for societal and environmental change profits all.
At the bottom line, we are all stakeholders, mainly through the way we consume, but also by working for social impact driven corporations, and by founding businesses which commit to prioritizing social benefits over profits.
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