The landscape of business is changing. Rising to the planet’s challenges, businesses are increasingly playing a more active role in helping solve social and environmental problems. Enter the global B Corp certification – A mechanism for businesses to harness the power of private enterprise to create public benefit. A small (but growing) B Corp movement has begun in South Africa, pioneered by founding B Corps such as Ecolution Consulting.
There are currently over 1,900 Certified B Corps globally from more than 130 industries in 50 countries with 1 unifying goal – to redefine success in business. The B Corp certification also helps consumers identify change makers and guides investors to find ethical businesses to invest in. South Africa’s transformation to a stable, equitable country may seem difficult at this stage, but it is underway and B Corps can help inspire others and speed this transformation on its way. Given its challenges and history, there is no place more important in this world for inclusive business to succeed.
B Corps are certified by B Lab, a non-profit organization that certifies companies based on the value they create for stakeholders such as employees, the local community and the environment. Their custom-made assessment tool – the B Impact Assessment – aims to Measure What Matters through its rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, transparency and accountability.
“B Corps are important because they inspire all businesses to compete not only to be the best in the world, but to be the best for the world,” says Beth Richardson, Executive Director of B Lab, South Africa. “Business is one of the most powerful forces in society and only with business’ active participation can we expect that prosperity will become shared in a more equitable and durable manner.”
Ecolution Consulting recently joined the ranks with other global brands such as Ben & Jerry’s, Patagonia and Hootsuite to become B Corp Certified. “B Corp has given us the opportunity to be certified for the good that we do, but also act as a guide and inspiration of further best practices to incorporate into our business”, says André Harms, founder and director of Ecolution Consulting, “we believe that B Corp will give us the leverage and network to create a combined force, alongside our clients, to act as a catalyst for a change towards bettering our world.”
To certify, Ecolution had to assess the impact categories within their business of Environment, Workers, Customers, Community and Governance. The resulting scores are now available in their B Impact Report Online.
Another Certified B Corporation with offices in South Africa and collaborator of Ecolution Consulting is Solarus a private company, founded in 2006 that develops, produces and sells hybrid solar PowerCollectors™ and integrated project solutions.
“In the future all companies will be B Corps,” says Henning Brand, project manager at Solarus Cape Town, “unsustainable business that causes damage to both people and the environment will slowly fade away and B Corps will arise. When business is used as force for good it can completely transform the negative situations we have found ourselves in both on a local and global level. I strongly believe this is a start of a new transformative movement for South Africa.”
More about Ecolution
Ecolution Consulting was established by André Harms in 2011 after he spent over a year in Antarctica from 2009 to 2011 working for the South African National Antarctic Programme at their Antarctic research station as the team leader and mechanical engineer. It was there that his passion for the environment was brought face to face with the critical situation the planet is facing. Living for 14 months in complete isolation with his small team he became acutely aware of mankind’s reliance on energy and other resources, as well as our propensity to produce waste.
A big focus for Ecolution is within the building industry, as currently building’s account for one third of the global greenhouse gas emissions, 40% of the world’s energy consumption and 25% of the world’s water consumption. “This in turn means there is a phenomenal opportunity that exists in the building industry to reduce our global environmental impact and live, work and play in better spaces,” says Harms.
About B Lab South Africa
B Lab South Africa is the local representative of the global non-profit B Lab. B Lab is a non-profit organization that serves a global movement of people using business as a force for good. Its vision is that one day all companies compete not only to be the best in the world, but the Best for the World and as a result society will enjoy a more shared and durable prosperity.
B Lab drives this systemic change by:
- Building a global community of Certified B Corporations who meet the highest standards of verified, overall social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability;
- Promoting Mission Alignment using innovative corporate structures like the benefit corporation to align the interests of business with those of society and to help high impact businesses be built to last;
- Helping tens of thousands of businesses, investors, and institutions Measure What Matters, by using the B Impact Assessment and B Analytics to manage their impact — and the impact of the businesses with whom they work — with as much rigor as their profits;
- Inspiring millions to join the movement through compelling storytelling by B the Change Media.
B Lab South Africa is currently being incubated at the Bertha Centre for Social Innovation. Further information can be found at www.bcorporation.co.za