Ten years ago, I joined Making Cents International inspired not only by the company’s innovative services, but also by its for-profit structure. Why? Until then, I had worked for not-for-profits supporting financial inclusion and enterprise development. While proud of my work, I always felt a disconnect promoting a “business mindset” among our clients when I operated from a non-profit structure immune to some of the pressures facing typical business owners. Making Cents, a small scrappy business with a social mission, felt more like a natural fit: we could support our clients using both our business training methodology and our lived experience! After I joined Making Cents, I found that this mentality also reinforced our efforts in other domains—encouraging us to innovate as we grew and expanded our services further into youth development, social inclusion, and learning. However, the business mantle also had its disadvantages—in particular, the perception that the bottom line solely drove decisions and that companies like ours were not committed to sustainability or to the communities we serve.
To bridge these two worlds, we had traditionally referred to ourselves and tried to act as a social enterprise—a business that achieves both impact and income. But, we lacked some of the metrics and process to measure both.
Until now. After undertaking a rigorous assessment by the B Lab, I am thrilled that our efforts have become recognized in our certification as a B Corp! This designation verifies our commitment to promoting the economic, social, and environmental well-being of the communities we serve and work in. We join a growing movement of organizations globally committed to changing how business is done and promoting a triple bottom line of profit, people, and planet.
But as important as the certification was the process we went through to get there. To become a B Corp, companies must complete an assessment that examines and scores their policies and practices according to the highest standards in five core areas: governance, treatment of employees, community engagement, environmental stewardship, and final impact on customers. Undertaking this assessment helped us to understand where we were already strong and where we can do better. In response, we are now in the process of measuring our carbon footprint and considering how we can reduce it, doubling down on our efforts to be inclusive, and focusing on measuring the social impact of our services, even when our clients aren’t requiring it.
After our next assessment in three years, we plan to have improved our practices in at least four of the five core areas. We invite you to follow our progress—our assessment results are public! We also invite you to consider further how your company and the business community in general can further improve economic systems by still meeting customer demand while protecting the environment and our staff.