By Yolanda Kakabadse
Former President, World Wildlife Fund International
From poverty to climate change to corruption, the challenges facing the world may sometimes seem daunting. Despite the nature of these issues, I am optimistic in a vision of the future where everyone thrives. A future where communities can protect and harness natural resources. A future ripe with opportunities for people of all backgrounds to go to school and to have decent jobs. A future that business helps build.
The power of the private sector in addressing these challenges is invaluable. Business leaders that operate in the interests of people and the planet contribute to both the health and longevity of their companies and the communities they operate it in.
A long-term and purpose-driven approach is also good for business. Consumers, potential employees, current employees and investors are increasingly drawn to companies that commit to a mission beyond profit. It’s not only beneficial for society, but for the bottom line.
Adopting purpose-driven business models is more than a trend, it is a movement. One that is gaining traction worldwide. Companies are increasingly adopting the B Corp model, recognising their impact on the environment, economy and society. There are more than 2,300 certified B Corps around the world. In Latin America alone, we have more than 300 certified B Corps.
These Latin American B Corps are working toward a sustainable future and transforming lives in the process. From promoting transparency in company ownership to measuring environmental impact, they’re sparking key conversations and actions. Their voice and power is crucial to addressing major global challenges.
Latin American entrepreneurs, in particular, are uniquely positioned in this movement. Through my work with Sistema B, I’ve seen how these disruptive innovators are scaling global impact more quickly than established companies.
This November, I’ll be joining them to help further and shape their vision for positive impact at Sistema B’s Encuentro + B conference. This moment is key for laying and building upon a strong foundation of purpose-driven ventures. Leadership is no longer solely reserved for governments or big businesses.
And while building a purpose-driven startup might seem challenging for entrepreneurs, established businesses, organisations and leaders are making it more and more accessible. The B Team’s Born B movement provides entrepreneurs with essential resources, tools and ideas to embed social and environmental purpose in their company DNA from the start.
Entrepreneurs and business leaders certainly don’t have to negotiate these opportunities alone. The B Team is developing actionable tools like the Born B Impact Assessment, which allows companies to measure their impact on people, planet and the economy and is the first step to becoming a B Corp. We’re also helping bring established business leaders and entrepreneurs together to learn from each other on how to lead with purpose and increase positive impact.
Collaboration with NGOs and governments will also help drive this movement. Governments and civil society groups can help advance policies that allow sustainable and impact-driven business to grow. On a local, national and international level, we are stronger when we work together.
And you can join us. Hundreds of business, civil society and government leaders will be helping shape a sustainable and equitable future in São Paulo in November. Together, we can bring this vision to life.