When it comes to making a difference, I’m interested in levers…as in which ones can I pull to make the most positive impact in the shortest amount of time. Business is one such metaphorical lever. Companies have tremendous flexibility and influence over what we buy, what we value and even how we vote.
That’s why the B Corp movement gives me hope for a better world through business. Certified B Corps, like ours, are companies that seek to use business as a force for good. As of this month, more than 2000 B Corps around the world are working hard to do social and environmental good. And a lot of them broaden and deepen their impact by working with others. Here is just a handful of examples:
Patagonia Provisions and Hopworks: Well known for its outdoor gear, Patagonia entered the food business to find “solutions to repair the [food] chain.” In 2016, they partnered with Portland-based craft brewer Hopworks to launch Long Root Ale, the first beer using the Kernza grain. An agriculturally “regenerative” grain, Kernza is a perennial, unlike most grains which are planted annually. This reduces soil erosion and the need for watering and pesticides. Its long, dense roots also sequester carbon dioxide. Now that’s a hard-working beer.
Nossa Familia Coffee: Meaning “Our Family” in Portuguese, Portland-based Nossa Familia embraces an extended family of nonprofit partners. In addition to donating coffee, volunteer hours and funding to numerous causes, Nossa Familia provides ongoing support to p:ear and Central City Concern in more unexpected ways. Nossa Familia facilitates p:ear’s barista training program, offering homeless and transitional youth opportunities to develop job skills and improve their lives. To generate income and job skills for formerly homeless clients, Central City Concern produces Central City Coffee. Nossa Familia provides Central City Coffee staff with consultation services and access to their production facility and even showcases Central City Coffee in its own stores. Now that’s friendly competition.
Koopman Ostbo: In 2016 we partnered with Zenger Farm, a Portland working farm that teaches sustainable farming and promotes good food for all. We’ve offered pro bono marketing services and financial support to bring greater awareness and funds to their programs. We also partner with Linfield College and Portland State University’s School of Business to teach high school and college students how to develop purpose-driven businesses. Helping catalyze future leaders creates ripple effects that go far beyond what we can do ourselves.
What partnerships fascinate and inspire you? Maybe they are your own? We’d love to hear from you.