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Are B Corps Relevant Outside of the U.S.?

Words by Ryan Honeyman
Leadership & Transparency

This is the ninth in a weekly series of excerpts from the upcoming book The B Corp Handbook: How to Use Business as a Force for Good (Berrett-Koehler Publishers, October 13, 2014). Click here to read the rest of the series.

By Ryan Honeyman

The B Corp movement has amplified the voice of a global community of entrepreneurs, investors, and consumers behind the power of a unifying brand that stands for a better way to do business.

Since B Lab (the nonprofit behind the B Corporation) was founded in 2007, the B Corp movement has become increasingly attractive and exciting to entrepreneurs outside of the United States.

For example, more than 1,100 Certified B Corps from 120 industries and 35 countries (including Afghanistan, Australia, Brazil, Germany, Kenya, and Mongolia) can now speak with one voice when they invite their millions of friends, family, and colleagues to join them in using business as a force for good.

This platform enables the B Corp community to build a collective voice that transcends international boundaries, helps galvanize more people, and creates a positive effect on society and the environment that is more powerful than any individual company.

B Corp certification helps raise awareness around what is being done well in Afghanistan. It sets an example that an Afghan company can achieve international standards for ethical operations and transparency. It also benefits other Afghan companies by opening up more mentoring opportunities and demonstrating the path to apply for B Corp certification. --Luisa Walmsley, CSR Program Manager, Roshan (Afghanistan)

Whether you are a sole proprietor, a national brand, or global business with billions in sales, and whether your focus is on strengthening local communities, reducing global poverty, or addressing climate change, being part of a larger movement can help build collective voice, accelerate the adoption of standards, drive capital, pass supportive public policies, and inspire consumers to change their behavior.

B Lab  has partnered with several organizations to help drive the movement globally. At the 2012 Clinton Global Initiative, for example, B Lab formally launched a partnership with Sistema B to serve and support the community of Certified B Corporations (Empresas B) in South America. The initial focus of this partnership will be on developing a community of Empresas B in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, and Colombia. As a sign of the rising popularity of the movement, the Certified B Corporation was named the number one idea on a list of one hundred ideas that could change the world, compiled by Semana Sostenible, a popular magazine based in Colombia.

People keep saying, “Oh, you are a B Corp? That’s amazing! How do you do it?” This happens at least twice a week. --Sebastian Salinas Claro, CEO, Emprediem (Chile)

Other exciting partnerships include the recent launches of B Corp Europe and B Corp Australia, and B Lab’s collaboration with MaRS Discovery District to support the B Corp community in Canada. In fact, the total number of Canadian B Corps grew by 65 percent in 2013.

Indeed, during interviews conducted for this book, representatives of Certified B Corps from all over the world—Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Italy, Mexico, and Turkey, as well as Canada and the United States—repeatedly described participation in a global movement to redefine success in business as an incredibly invigorating and profound experience.

For Net Balance, becoming a B Corporation was simply an extension of our vision and values. We believe that, for business to succeed into the future, it must be led by purpose as much as profit. --Terence Jeyaretnam, Executive Director, Net Balance (Australia)
Ryan Honeyman is a sustainability consultant, executive coach, keynote speaker, and author of The B Corp Handbook: How to Use Business as a Force for Good. Ryan helps businesses save money, improve employee satisfaction, and increase brand value by helping them maximize the value of their sustainability efforts, including helping companies certify and thrive as B Corps. His clients include Ben & Jerry’s, Klean Kanteen, Nutiva, McEvoy Ranch, Opticos Design, CleanWell, Exygy, and the Filene Research Institute.

To get exclusive updates and free resources about the B Corp movement, sign up for Ryan’s monthly newsletter. You can also visit honeymanconsulting.com or follow Ryan on Twitter:@honeymanconsult.