Nuevva Visits DC, Thinks Benefit

Nuevva Director Matthew Bader was present for last week’s International Aid and Development Forum (AIDF) in Washington, D.C.

“Nuevva is focused on business in Africa, but our roots are in humanitarian activity.  Everyone internally involved with Nuevva has that personal and professional linkage back to the humanitarian aid field, and we like to keep abreast of trends.  Besides – and this is very important – humanitarian organizations have started to realize that development is actually about business, and that without business humanitarian trends will not take root.”

Key to this thought transition is the concept of the B-Corporation.  A recent Financial Times article outlined B, or “Benefit” Corporations, describing them as a “wave that leads to a new type of business model”.  The basic concept is that a B-Corporation is not only about profit.  Profit is still recognized as important, but a B-Corporation also believes that a profitable business should give back and benefit those around it.

In a recent comment, Bader noted that “the Benefit Corporation debate is a debate about Corporate Social Responsibility. Patagonia has understood. Cascade Engineering has understood, and multinationals arriving in Africa understand. When will multinationals everywhere get it?  If all companies could try to be as responsible as those that are new arrivals on the African scene, the world would surely benefit.  A major advantage to the B-Corporation is that your legal statutes formally enshrine this commitment to broader good, rather than allowing lip-service without action.”

And how do we know that the benefit is real?  A young non-profit called B-Lab exists exactly for this purpose.  On its website B-Lab states its support for “entrepreneurs who use business as a force for good.” and says it’s “dedicated to using the power of business to address the world’s most pressing challenges”  In part, B-Lab does this by certifying the quality of B-corporations based on fixed environmental and social criteria.

B-Lab uses five key evaluative steps to verify the benefit of a B-Corporation, and occasionally uses site visits to confirm things are as the company reports.  “Indeed, many non-B-corporations are taking the same steps on a voluntary basis.  It’s only a small extra step to enshrine these principles, and one that can make a new kind of shareholder more confident about your company”, says Bader.  So if you want to have an impact in your investment, the B-Corporation may well be the wave of the future.

Nuevva is a B-Corporation Registered as an L3C in Vermont and based in Northampton, Massachusetts, USA.



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