Businesses ‘doing good’? Prove it
Wednesday, March 13, 2019
By Sarah Shearman
Social businesses trying to solve a diverse range of problems, from homelessness to gender inequality, the refugee crisis to plastic pollution often share the same conundrum – how to measure success.
In an era of greater transparency, consumers and investors increasingly expect companies to look beyond profits and report their environmental and social impact.
For social enterprises, which are businesses that aim to do good as well as make profit, measuring impact is often an non-negotiable requirement from their funders.
Unlike reporting financial results, there is no universal standard for impact. The outcomes for a business that tackles food waste, for example, will look very different to those for a business working to reduce knife crime.
“It is a bit of a dark art, measuring impact,” Jessi Baker, founder and chief executive of Provenance, a British social enterprise that uses blockchain technology to make supply chains more transparent, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
Large companies like Unilever and smaller social enterprises such as Canada-based African food brand Farafena are among businesses using Provenance’s software to show consumers how, when and where their products were made.
Photo courtesy of Dean Hochman.