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B Corps: how the future of business is profit with a purpose

It is possible for a business to make money without exploiting resources or destroying the planet. Here's how B Corps are changing the way we consume

B Corps

Illustration by Francesco Poroli

B Corp logo

B Corps are changing the way we do business. They’re still the new kids on the block, but their numbers are growing fast. They are driven by the desire to make things better through commerce and replace the focus on individualism with an ethos of interdependence. Because business cannot prosper where people do not thrive. These companies acknowledge that business can be a problem, but show that they can also be part of a solution. It’s still about profit – but it’s profit with a purpose. 

The Big Issue Group has been a B Corp since the early days of the UK movement in 2015. Like all of the other nearly 600 UK-based B Corps, it had its social and environmental mettle tested rigorously during the accreditation process. As part of the B Corp family, companies can share best practice and work together to find solutions to specific problems. Any type of business, from banks to baby food manufacturers, can become a B Corp. 

Recipe box firm Gousto became a B Corp in August last year. Their business model looks at the problems the food industry can solve, as well as the ones it creates, and the firm has acted on both. They work with anti-hunger charity FareShare to get their surplus food to the people who need it, as well as cutting the impact of the packaging and freight of their own product lines and measuring portions meticulously to avoid waste. 

They reached out socially too. When Covid was devastating hospitality, their Food Finder and Cookstarter campaigns helped struggling businesses stay connected with consumers. And, for their own staff, they’ve recently become a Real Living Wage employer. Gousto’s head of proposition strategy Hugh Lewis says becoming a B Corp will help the business grow in the right way. 

“A key part of Gousto’s vision is to offer a more sustainable meal, from reducing the nation’s food waste to cutting plastic in recipe boxes,” he says. “By removing waste and emissions via our business model, we are able to scale more responsibly.” 

B Corps take the hard work out of finding a business that’s doing the right thing, and Lewis says consumers are becoming more aware of what the logo stands for. Gousto’s accreditation will help them attract custom, he believes, as we begin to take more responsibility for what and how we eat. 

“One of the main developments in food and drink is around making packaging more sustainable,” he says. “Something we’re really proud to have achieved last year was our trial of the world’s first edible stock cube packaging made from pea protein, in partnership with Xampla. Another emerging trend we’re seeing is a move to eating better for the planet, considering not just food waste but the overall environmental footprint of the meals we’re eating. Gousto customers are contributing to saving tonnes of food waste and can even customise recipe choices to cater to a more climatarian diet, by switching their protein to a vegetarian option.” 

Away from the food frontline there are hundreds of other B Corps using their business brains to trade profitably while having a positive impact well beyond their customer base. When consumers see the B Corp logo, they know that they’re buying from a company that’s proved it doesn’t sacrifice ethics in the pursuit of a strong bottom line.  

But being welcomed into the B Corp fold is about more than that; it’s about promising to be a better business every year and with every innovation. That’s why buying from a B Corp is genuinely an investment in a more prosperous future for all of us. 

bcorporation.uk

This article is taken from The Big Issue magazine. If you cannot reach local your vendor, you can still click HERE to subscribe to The Big Issue today or give a gift subscription to a friend or family member. You can also purchase one-off issues from The Big Issue Shop or The Big Issue app, available now from the App Store or Google Play.

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