Redefining Business ‘Success’ in Manitoba

Social Finance - Fri, 06/21/2013 - 14:05

By Aaron Emery

The exciting thing about being on board in the early-dawn hours of a movement is that there is a consistent flow of ‘firsts’ to celebrate and keep everyone excited for “another day at the office”. And while it is important to remember to celebrate all of these little things, this week’s ‘first’ is an especially big one. This week, the Canadian B Corp movement has headed out into new territory.

On Wednesday, June 19, we were proud to announce the first two businesses in the province of Manitoba to be certified by B Lab based on the positive impact that they’ve had on their community, on employees, and on the environment.

One company, Winnipeg-based Manoverboard is a web and print design studio, which engineers web experiences for a number of very well-established companies in North America including, the Acumen Fund and Barneys New York. 

The other company, Prairie Pulp & Paper has developed a revolutionary kind of paper made up of 80% wheat-straw with the dual objectives of preserving forests and aiding farmers. Their product, Step Forward Paper™ is currently distributed throughout North America. Such revolutionary development begs the question: could this be the kind of disruptive technology that changes the paper industry for the next century? 

While the former is producing websites for innovators in finance, retail and philanthropy, the latter is taking waste product from one industry and turning it into a solution for another. Though the differences between the two couldn’t be much greater, both share two central features in common: they’ve each undergone the B Corporation Impact Assessment and have each been certified as B Corps based on their exceptional scores. 

For those unfamiliar with the B Corp brand, Certified B Corporations are a new type of company that use the power of business for good and meet rigorous standards of overall social and environmental performance. Other ‘conscious capitalists’ that have earned B Corp Certification include Ben & Jerry’s, Patagonia, and Etsy—but in total there are currently more than 780 Certified B Corporations globally (74 in Canada) across 60 industries and 25 countries, unified by the common goal of redefining business success. 

For me, this is what it is all about—measuring and then honouring those leaders that are walking the talk. 

B Corp believes that setting these higher standards in a clear and measurable way matters because, as B Corp co-founder Jay Cohen Gilbert says, “With so many companies marketing themselves as ‘good’ and ‘green’, it’s important to honour those walking the talk.”

The sort of diversity of business exemplified by these two Manitoba-based operations is representative of the overall B Corp movement; and in my opinion, is one of the movement’s greatest strengths. 

Another example of this variety can be found just down the road from my home in Toronto. Head to the old steel town of Hamilton and you’ll find a couple of businesses that make for this same sort of odd couple. One, REfficient, is an online marketplace where you can go shopping in other companies’ surplus telecom/IT inventory. The other,The Green Smoothie Bar, offers healthy, organic nourishment for people in a fast-paced world. 

Almost nothing in common—except great business models that each make their communities better/stronger places live, work, and play. 

This is the power of good business done well. This is the promise (for me, at least) of the B Corp movement.

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Editor's Note: Fore more information about Canadian B Corps, see Aaron Emery's most recent post, Eight Canadian Businesses Honoured as Best For the World