Talking about B Corp

When I first started working at the Centre this past September, all the WECMers raved about the monthly Business Breakfasts and I was excited to attend one myself. After the October Business Breakfast with BDC’s Carla Heim was announced, I was puzzled by the topic on Beneficial Corporations (B Corps). ‘What is a B Corp?’ I thought to myself.

As a student finishing my Bachelor of Commerce degree, I wondered why I had not previously heard about B Corps in my classes. I was glad to learn so much from Carla, Senior Advisor for Social Entrepreneurship at BDC, who is a B Corp expert. Keep reading to find out the knowledge I gained from this Business Breakfast.

What is a Beneficial Corporation?

Beneficial Corporations are not just any corporation providing benefits to society. According to B Lab, the non-profit behind B Corp Certification, “Certified B Corporations are businesses that meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose” (B Lab, 2019).

In Carla’s presentation, she emphasized the growing trend of consumers who are increasingly concerned about the social and environmental impact of the businesses from which they are buying. There is a shift from the traditional shareholder return to an all stakeholder return.

How does my business become B Corp certified?

Carla outlined 3 steps to B Corp Certification:

  1. Commitment
  2. Performance
  3. Legal

There is a rigorous certification process an aspiring B Corp must undergo. First, the company must be committed to the B Corp standards, exemplifying them in daily operations. Then, the company must complete and achieve a minimum score on an assessment—the B Impact Assessment—which verifies that they are performing at a B Corp level. There are also legal requirements a company must meet before becoming a B Corp. All this criteria must be met prior to becoming a certified B Corp. Learn more about the certification process here.

Which companies are certified?

  • The Business Development Bank of Canada

BDC is Canada’s first certified B Corp financial institution. BDC is committed to helping entrepreneurs see which stage their business is at in becoming B Corp certified by offering a free quick assessment. There are also a variety of resources BDC has created surrounding B Corps, such as blog posts, videos, and my favourite, the B Corp Effect podcast. Listen to the podcast today here.

  • Manoverboard

A Winnipeg-based design studio, Manoverboard is one of four certified B Corps in Manitoba. I had the pleasure of hearing the founder of the company Andrew Boardman speak at the Business Breakfast along with Carla Heim. Andrew outlined reasons business owners should think about becoming a B Corp. Among his motivations for becoming certified is that it creates a sustainable purpose in your business operations which in turn can increase your sales.

Andrew also highlighted that his business is a member organization of 1% for the Planet, which is a network striving towards a healthier planet. Manoverboard is committed to donating one percent of their revenues to nonprofits that are bettering the environment.

Final Thoughts

I think the B Corp Certification will become a crucial element for consumers’ buying decisions in the future. The social and environmental landscape is changing and businesses need to be on top of this change, enacting strategies to better the world that we live in.

I learned all this from attending ONE Business Breakfast, and you can too! Not only is there a knowledgeable speaker at each breakfast speaking on a specific topic, but there is a whole room full of eager learners that you can connect with. It also gives you the chance to connect with many of our staff members face-to-face, all while enjoying a delicious breakfast.

Attend our next Business Breakfast on Wednesday December 11th where Brian Denysuik, President and CEO of Creditaid, will help guide us through some ideas on how to better prepare our financial life for 2020 with his presentation Financial Wellness: Yours and Your Business. Register online today through this link.


Written by Sarah Holtmann, Project Associate and University of Manitoba Asper School of Business Co-op Student, Women’s Enterprise Centre of Manitoba