A conversation with B Lab which began in 2009 with my introduction to the paper for Bill Clinton.
From: Jeff Mowatt <email@example.com>
Date: Fri, 10 Jul 2009 18:00:48 +0000 (GMT)
Subject: B Corps membership
I was interested enough to register on your site a while ago, but there’s little more that I can do now, it seems.
In 2004, I created a business with a profit for social purpose business model which has a mission in Eastern Europe.
It’s named after the model proposed in a 1996 white paper for President Clinton re-election committee. Terry Hallman the author deployed it in Russia in 1999 to source the Tomsk initiative and microfinance bank.
We set focus on Ukraine since launching in the UK and in 2006 published a microeconomic ‘Marshall Plan’ which has since influenced several areas of government policy
There are many items in your survey which I really can’t respond to although I believe we are working toward the same ends. I don’t know if it’s a question of our limited visibility, but in the field of social enterprise I’ve often felt there’s competion where there should be collaboration, such that one organisation fails to endorse the efforts and achievement of others.
We’re a very small organisation, not in any way a corporation but I believe we’re creating impact that as yet hasn’t come up on radar.
The response at the time from Hardik Savalai was to say::
“Unfortunately we are not at a point yet where we are able to certify companies outside the US. But many foreign companies are still using the B Ratings System to benchmark their own performance and help start similar conversations in their countries. “
So B Corporations can’t be established in the United Kingdom, nor would they engage with peers.
In the Guardian recently I read an article which asked – Are B Corporations redefining business for the 21st century?:
Individuals have ideas. The good ones attract followers. The right followers generate a movement. The transition from one to another is not always easy to identify, and harder still to explain.
Has the B Corp idea arrived? It’s impossible to say for sure, but Andrew Kassoy must be quietly confident. More than 620 companies have signed up. Some, such as the clothing retailer Patagonia, are seriously big players. Even global statesmen are singing B Corp’s praises.
“We don’t know him or anything”, says Kassoy, in reference to former US president Bill Clinton, who recently waxed lyrical about the B Corp concept during a speech at Oxford University. “I guess someone must have been talking to him about us.”
The relationship has clearly developed since then because last week Kassoy found himself on stage at the annual meeting of the 2012 Clinton Global Initiative.
“There’s a generation of entrepreneurs and stakeholders who want business to be about more than just money,” says Kassoy. “They want business to have some kind of purpose. We like to say that has turned into a global movement of entrepreneurs who are trying to redefine success in business.”
P-CED was unique in its challenge to traditional capitalism and shareholder primacy. It began with a paper on an alternative to capitalism for Bill Clinton as US President in 1996 and was then published online, with the intention of spreading this new way of doing business.
In February 2008, The US Senate Committee on Foriegn Relations were reminded of the paper in a letter which said:
“There is increasing congruence and synchronicity in play now, to the point of attunement. What Ms. Fore is describing has been central to P-CED’s main message, advocacy and activity for a decade. That, and helping establish an alternative form of capitalism, where profits and/or aid money are put to use in investment vehicles with the singular purpose of helping the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people. The paper on which that is based is in Clinton’s library, dated September 16, 1996, author yours’ truly. “
Last summer, I offered Guardian editors Jo Confino and David Mills, my article on Changing Capitalism for People and Planet. It was disregarded. It descibed how we began in Russia with the Tomsk Regional Iniatiative and introduced our profit-for-purpose model to the UK in 2004.
With the ongoing saga of social investment intermediaries and ‘investment readiness’ which David Floyd has recently drawn much attention to, it beggars belief that we’re pushing each other out of the way in the name of social value.
As I noted a few days ago Clinton was a prominent figure at the Davos Ukrainian Lunch in 2009, where Sir Richard Branson first spoke of business tackling social problems.
Perhaps readers will ask themselves, as I do - what’s going on here?
Clinton’s new book Back to Work explains how we go into the economic crisis and how we need to shift toward a ‘we’re all in this together’ mentality, as Terry Hallman had done for the 2009 Economics for Ecology conference and elsewhere:
“Growing numbers of people are coming to understand that “them” might equal “me.” Call it compassion, or call it enlightened and increasingly impassioned self-interest. Either way, we are all in this together, and we will each have to decide for ourselves what it means to ignore someone to death, or not.”