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There is an urgent need in the world, and particularly in countries like South Africa, for a new approach to business. An approach that moves from “profit for me” to “value for collective growth”.

In the USA, certified B Corporations are a new type of corporation which uses the power of business to solve social and environmental problems B Corps, unlike traditional businesses:

  • Meet comprehensive and transparent social and environmental performance standards
  • Meet higher legal accountability standards
  • Build business constituency for public policies that support sustainable business.

In the US, there are now over 500 Certified B Corporations across 60 different industries. From food and apparel to attorneys and office supplies, B Corporations are a diverse community with one unifying goal: to redefine success in business. Through a company’s public B Impact Report, anyone can access performance data about the social and environmental practices that stand behind their products.

Governments and nonprofits are necessary but insufficient to solve today’s most pressing problems. Business is the most powerful force on the planet and can be a positive instrument for change. The vision is simple yet ambitious: to create a new sector of the economy which uses the power of business to solve social and environmental problems. This sector will be comprised of a new type of corporation – the B Corporation – that meets rigorous and independent standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency. As a result, individuals have greater economic opportunity, society will move closer to achieving a positive environmental footprint, more people will be employed in great places to work, and we will have built stronger communities at home and across the world.

B Corporations address two critical problems: Current corporate law makes it difficult for businesses to take employee, community, and environmental interests into consideration when making decisions The lack of transparent standards makes it difficult to tell the difference between a ‘good company’ and just good marketing To address these issues, B Corporations’ legal structure expands corporate accountability so they are required to make decisions that are good for society, not just their shareholders. B Corporations’ performance standards enable consumers to support businesses that align with their values, investors to drive capital to higher impact investments, and governments and multinational corporations to implement sustainable procurement policies. And that’s the change South Africa needs.

See http://bcorporation.net for more.

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Comment by sylvia hammond on September 12, 2012 at 23:03

for suggestions the contact email is: contactus@thedti.gov.za - don't forget to add the skills-universe link to your article when you email them :)


Contributor
Comment by Tim Malone on September 12, 2012 at 21:39

Agreed, BCorps really doesn't sound very appealing! How does one go about discussing this with the dti?

Comment by sylvia hammond on September 12, 2012 at 21:18

Yes, that makes sense - I agree absolutely with you on the possible contribution.  Maybe you should suggest to dti that they create a uniquely SA categorisation - rather than copying the USA terminology.


Contributor
Comment by Tim Malone on September 12, 2012 at 18:54

Hi Sylvia,

I think that the main difference between BCorps and Social Entrepreneurs is that BCorps are structurally the same as listed corporations and are not necessarily entrepreneurial. While Social Entrepreneurs are leading the way, they generally don't allow for much outside investment until the business becomes large enough - and many don't. I believe the BCorps have a real role to play as an alternative to traditional listed companies.

Comment by sylvia hammond on September 12, 2012 at 14:34

Thank you for raising this discussion Tim.  I fully agree with you on the contribution that can be made potentially by responsible business - as opposed to business that pursues maximum profit at all costs - and is prepared to engage in dubious practices to advance their business.  I believe that there is an enormous potential power in the support of constructive business - or avoidance of the others.  Do you see a difference between the "bcorporation" concept and social entrepreneurs? 

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