With a constant influx of creative ideas emerging from business, education and independent sectors in society, Chile has been no exception to the global trend of environmental and social awakening in the past years.
Most recently, Chile joined other Latin American countries in importing an idea first conceived in the United States, which seeks to adjust the profit-driven model of businesses.
The B corporation, or “Empresa B” in Spanish, proposes an alternative to the donation-based non-profit model and to the profit-driven business. The proponents of this idea instead argue that a hybrid between these two models could potentially fuel social change through an economically stable platform.
One of the first Chilean organizations to receive the B corporation certificate was Triciclos, an organization that houses a number of recycling points across Santiago and provides educational campaigns to teach people about the effects of this practice.
In order to become certified, the business needs to meet certain standards – including a minimum of 80 points (out of 200) on the B Impact Assessment, which establishes a benchmark for social and environmental impact. Once awarded, the B corporation certificate is similar to a Fair Trade or a TransFair label – as a signal to consumers that the business meets internationally-agreed upon terms.
Businesses must also adapt a legal framework in accordance with the company’s social mission–which acts as a contract that cannot be changed throughout the company’s existence.
Once certified, the companies have random periodic visits from the B lab to monitor the compliance of standards. The standards are high, but this works to attract companies that are committed to serious social and environmental change.
There is now a Sistema B, which operates in Latin America and seeks to build alliances with businesses that are already acting under these principles.
Juan Pablo Larenas, one of the founders of Sistema B in Latin America, spoke of a change of paradigm.
“What Sistema B aims to do is build a community of businesses that share the same values of sustainability, a system of alliances as well as enforcers of these values.”
At the present moment there are more than 450 businesses that are B certified, which amount to over $2,200 million dollars in total income.
Today, more than 90 percent are from the United States, but Sistema B seeks to expand this model into Latin America and begin a local network of social entrepreneurs who seek to redefine the meaning of success in business.