B Corps movement eyeing expansion in Asia

Thursday, March 5, 2015

The next time you’re deciding whether to buy a service or product from a company, you may want to check if it’s a B Corp.

Among the B Corps that you may already know and whose products you use are Ben & Jerry’s, Patagonia, Couchsurfing International and Etsy. In fact, more than 1,200 firms from 38 countries and 121 industries are now certified B Corps, with more being added every week.

A B Corp is essentially a sustainable business or social enterprise that voluntarily meets higher standards of transparency, accountability and performance. It has earnings in mind – unlike a non-profit – but considers stakeholders other than just investors and shareholders. So its aim is to make money, but in a long-term sustainable way.

While the idea of a sustainable, “non-evil” manner of running a business is not new – business leaders have been talking about the idea since the 1990s – B Lab, the non-profit organization behind the B Corp idea, or certification, wants to institutionalize the concept.

It wants make it globally recognized, to become the business world’s equivalent of the Fair Trade label.

There seems to be some momentum behind this movement. In November, Brazil’s top cosmetics, fragrance and toiletries maker Natura became the largest – and first publicly traded – company to attain B Corp sustainability certification.

Consumer giant Unilever – whose products are used by 2 billion people daily – is also considering becoming a B Corp, chief executive Paul Polman told The Guardian at Davos last month.

Having made some headway in the US – B Lab’s home ground – and Europe, the time may be right to bring the B Corp concept to Asia, B Lab founder Bart Houlahan says.

Source: Eco-Business (link opens in a new window)