We caught up with Brands on a Mission, who are changing the world – one brand and one public health issue at a time.
In an interview by email, B Lab Africa spoke with Brands on a Mission whose B Corp mission is to to help people really understand how purpose can help their brands grow.
Please tell us about your journey to becoming a B Corp. What motivated you to get certified?
Brands on a Mission (BOAM): We knew from the beginning of founding Brands on a Mission that we wanted to pursue our B Corp certification. Because when it comes to driving real benefits for communities, it’s not only what you say that matters, but also what you do. It took us an extensive one year of auditing to get our certification; the process was smooth but thorough, pushing us to reflect a lot on what needed to be set up or improved. During this time, we explored the impact that we were creating throughout our business – from our suppliers to our customers, and from our people to our planet. The hurdle for us was not only that we were at the start-up stage of our business but also that the type of organization we are is very different to the types that typically get B Corp certified. Brands on a Mission doesn’t offer a specific product or service to communities – rather, our impact is through brands (on a mission) or organizations. We remain more committed than ever to creating sustainable social impact through the power of brands.
What is your ambition as a B Corp and what are your future commitments?
BOAM: We recognize that our B Corp certification is just one step of our journey to transparently and responsibly change the world – one brand and one public health issue at a time. We are eagerly preparing the launch of our latest proprietary tool called “Purpose to Impact” to reach more brands and their stakeholders. The goal of our company and this tool especially is to help people really understand how purpose can help their brands grow. Purpose to Impact will provide a framework for a brand’s purpose deployment at scale and will then link this to the brand’s business plan. As a B Corp ourselves, we recognize and firmly believe that it is not good enough to just have a purpose – there needs to be action behind the intent. We have set a goal to unlock 1 Billion USD of additional resources towards the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030, and to improve the lives of 100 million people – we are looking forward to tracking that progress regularly. In the longer term, we are excited to keep growing our global team, help more brand clients deploy their social mission and purpose, and keep spreading knowledge about B Corps!
What advice would you give to other companies that want to achieve B Corp certification?
BOAM: Don’t go in blindly. Really think about your company’s entire framework because there are specific impact areas – Governance, Workers, Community, Customers, and Environment – in which a company is evaluated. It is important to actively work on those areas and then apply. Another note is that the B Corp certification is not an end to itself; it’s actually the start of the journey. As our company’s mission is to help other brands deploy their purpose, we believe the B Corp certification serves as a foundation for all companies to achieve their goals of doing good in our world today.
Brands on a Mission’s current B Impact Score is 82.4 out of 200. What do you think are the major contributing factors to these improvements since becoming certified?
BOAM: Of the five impact areas, we are proud that we scored highest for Workers (our employees) and Community. We are leaning into these strengths as we continue to grow. For our Employees, we prioritize developing their personal purpose as a business benefit. We believe that following one’s passion helps in delivering better programmes. It’s as necessary to help brands to deploy their purpose as it is for each of us individually to deploy our own, and the ideal fit is when a brand’s purpose is aligned to a person’s passion point too.
For our local community, we’re supporting and raising awareness for the Endometriosis Foundation of Kenya – founded by one of our own employees – by hosting their website free of cost. It’s a start, and we are continuing to develop Brands on a Mission’s charity support this year. We’ve also recently managed to raise funds for the National Business Compact on Coronavirus and we will be hosting the secretariat. In terms of Governance as our third highest score, we are actively creating an independent board this year and working towards different ownership systems which can be shared by employees as well.
What plans does Brands on a Mission have in place to improve the B Impact Score even further, and how do you think this will impact business, employees, customers, and the planet?
BOAM: We have great ambitions to improve our B Impact Score as we dive into our second year of full operation. The next steps for us are to implement a comprehensive plan for our full-time employees’ health insurance and wellness benefits in the next three months (not an easy feat as we have team members globally across Kenya, India, Egypt, France, to name a few!). This is important for us to get right, because we recognize that our employees take care of our business and customers. Our employees’ well-being is of paramount importance to Brands on a Mission. As to date we have been working mainly with big multinationals, one of our plans is to make sure that we start working with regional African businesses and infuse a mission locally as much as possible. We are also exploring ways to reduce our company’s impact on the environment. While we operate online as a fully remote company and have thus reduced each employee’s carbon footprint from saved commutes, this is a key area that Brands on a Mission is thinking a lot more about. We know we have a lot to learn, and this motivates us to keep striving to be a better and more socially responsible company as we grow. To this end, we will be prioritizing our company’s monthly review of key actions of our B Corp certification and (improvement) areas to work on.