January 2nd marked one year since we started setting up B Lab East Africa, the first African regional hub to support the B Corp movement in Africa. B Lab East Africa was set up with funding from DFID to support East African enterprises using business as a force for good. This involves certifying high impact businesses as B Corps, supporting different organizations to measure their impact using the B Impact Assessment and educating the next generation of business leaders how business can be a force for good.
Though a relatively new organization in the market, the concept behind B Lab East Africa resonates with a lot of business leaders. The need for companies to be good holistically, instead of through CSR only, is something we are seeing emerging due to pressure from investors, governments, civil society, workers and even consumers. Which is why a year on, we have 20+ B Corps in the region, 3 partners using our tool to measure what matters, and ongoing work with 3 universities.
The shift in conversation is not new in the East African market, especially for SMEs. Speaking to founders and senior teams on what impact means to them, we would get varied answers from staff empowerment to good governance to impact bottom of the pyramid. What is key here is impact was not equated to just one stakeholder group but to all stakeholders the companies interact with, and is seen as vital for long term success.
If we lift our heads up and look all over the world, the same conversation is happening. Consumers and investors are more and more shifting to put their money in companies that are holistically driving positive change, workers are willing to work for values aligned organization and even traditional institutions are looking at their impact. Our partners in Latin America, Sistema B worked with the Pope’s office to measure the Pope’s carbon footprint during his recent trip in Chile and Peru. All service providers were asked to measure their impact through the B Impact assessment to enable the team to aggregate data and provide a report to the Pope’s office .
“…we measured all impacts of the visit to create a manual that now can also be used in other countries – including for presidential visits and other major events. We not only considered the carbon footprint, the waste and water usage by the Pope and his delegation, but also the impacts generated by the providers – people selling food, electricity or souvenirs, car rental companies, etc….We invited all the providers to measure their impact through the B Impact assessment… This way, we could aggregate it and demonstrate that this kind of assessment can be replicated.”
At B Lab East Africa, we are excited to be kicking off our second year with these amazing conversations happening. We have over 400 companies in the region using the BIA to measure impact, 25% of which are using it to improve on performance, a growing pipeline of B Corps and partners looking to use BIA to measure and manage their impact. Let us make 2018 the year impact as a measure of success becomes the gold standard of excellence in East Africa.
Want to learn more about measuring and managing impact?
If you are interested in learning more about how to measure and manage your impact using the B Impact Assessment, reach out to Olivia@b-labeastafrica.net.
Want to become a B Corp? We are currently recruiting our founding Kenyan B Corp Community. You can find out more about the programme by reaching out to Amos Mutiga at Amos@b-labeastafrica.net.
About B Lab East Africa:
B Lab is a nonprofit organization that serves a global movement of people using business as a force for goodTM. Its vision is that one day all companies compete not only to be the best in the world, but the Best for the World® and as a result society will enjoy a more shared and durable prosperity. B Lab drives this systemic change by:
1) Building a global community of Certified B CorporationsTM who meet the highest standards of verified, overall social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability;
2) Promoting Mission Alignment using innovative corporate structures like the benefit corporation to align the interests of business with those of society and to help high impact businesses be built to last;
3) Helping tens of thousands of businesses, investors, and institutions Measure What Matters, by using the B Impact Assessment and B Analytics to manage their impact—and the impact of the businesses with whom they work—with as much rigor as their profits;
4) Inspiring millions to join the movement through story-telling on bthechange.com.