In 2021, B Lab Australia & Aotearoa New Zealand (AANZ) launched a partnership with New Zealand Trade and Enterprise (NZTE) to pilot a new impact management programme called Business for Good: Good for Business.
The programme, designed to inspire and guide Kiwi businesses to measure, improve and report on their impact, provides companies with an action plan and range of tools to help them measure and improve their impact, using the B Impact Assessment as a framework.
Over a year later, and there is a lot to celebrate! On the eve of welcoming its fourth cohort of businesses — this time focused on businesses in the technology and services sector — Business for Good has recently celebrated the B Corp certification of several alumni, including Heilala Vanilla and Food Nation, with more to come shortly.
Adding to a growing list of things to get excited about in the Aotearoa purpose-led business movement right now, it seems that this pilot is no longer a pilot — and indeed, the Business for Good programme has fast become an integral pillar of creating more ‘future-fit’ Kiwi businesses according to NZTE’s first Sustainability Report. Here, we take a moment to celebrate the programme’s initial successes, reflect on the learnings and get excited about the next chapter: national expansion.
Helping Kiwi businesses measure and improve their impact
At its core, the Business for Good programme is designed to equip Kiwi businesses to increase their resilience and make positive changes that enable them to bring their best to the global marketplace.
Through a series of facilitated workshops, participants navigate the B Impact Assessment, a world-renowned and standardised tool for measuring and improving social and environmental impact. This framework and process, which is also used to certify B Corps, is supported by one-to-one consulting with a trained B Consultant who works alongside the business to create a bespoke Impact Improvement Report for them to take away and implement.
While B Corp certification isn’t a requirement for businesses going through the programme, it has been a driver for many, with over half of participants citing their aspirations to become a B Corp as a reason for signing up.
So, why should we be so excited to see so many Kiwi businesses wanting to join the growing global movement of businesses transforming the economy? Business for Good graduate and Project and Product Manager for newly certified Heilala Vanilla, Bex McQueen, sums it up:
“B Corp certification can be a shorthand for international buyers looking for businesses that demonstrate a commitment to people and the planet, so it’s extremely valuable for Kiwi businesses to be able to show that to get a foot in the door. The ability to clearly articulate your business’ impact, even without certification, is such a valuable outcome of the programme for participants.”
‘Be like a B Corp’ even before you certify
For Heilala Vanilla, participating in the Business for Good programme gave their business the chance to solidify their understanding of where and how they could best improve their social and environmental impact, even before they became B Corp certified.
Having already embarked upon the B Corp journey by using the B Impact Assessment in house, the business relished the opportunity to deepen their knowledge and engagement with the movement’s principles and practices alongside like-minded businesses.
Seeing the programme as a stepping stone to learn from others and share solutions to common challenges like packaging and waste, this growth mindset embodies the approach to interdependence and continuous improvement that characterise the B Corp movement:
“We were able to speak to already Certified B Corporations like Fix & Fogg and Raglan Food Co about their B Corp journey and learn how they overcame challenges similar to what we’re facing. We’d love to pay this forward to other businesses now that we’re certified.”
A shift in focus
After having welcomed and graduated businesses from the consumer goods sector for its first three iterations, there has been a shift in focus for this cohort to the tech and services sector, which has opened up the programme to a whole new group of companies that have the potential to create vast positive impacts for people and the planet.
“The key theme that comes through again from the finalists and winners of the Hi-Tech Awards is that New Zealand makes technology with purpose – caring for people, and the planet… helping create a better tomorrow through technology.”
Batting well above their weight, some of the innovative tech businesses taking part in this cohort include: Evnex, a leading manufacturer of intelligent EV chargers; Envico Technologies, specialists in using drone technology for conservation; and Parkable, providing smart parking solutions for employers and building owners.
Alongside this new cohort, the programme also welcomed a handful of recently trained Kiwi B Consultants to walk the purpose path alongside them. These consultants have been trained to become experts in the B Impact Assessment and its ability to drive impact, and it’s fantastic to see them already supporting Kiwi businesses to walk the purpose path.
Further embedding Indigenous wisdom
From the get go, the Business for Good programme has been cognisant of the opportunity to deeply integrate matauranga Māori (Māori knowledge), as an integral part of Aotearoa’s identity and culture and as a belief system that has always embraced the concept of business for ‘good’.
With each new cohort, there has been an increasing focus on incorporating Te Ao Māori (the Māori world view), leaning into the interest shown by businesses to develop a better understanding of how tikanga (values) enables more impactful business operations.
“We’re fortunate to be working with Te Aroha Grace of Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei on this, a tech entrepreneur himself who brings enormous value to the B Lab kaupapa (purpose) of creating a more regenerative, inclusive and equitable economy, a ‘mana economy’ as he calls it.”— Qiulae Wong, Aotearoa New Zealand Manager at B Lab AANZ
Throughout the programme, participants are challenged to think about the value Indigenous thinking brings to their organisation and, in turn, how they can contribute to thriving Māori and Pasifika communities in Aotearoa.
“For Māori, the overarching goal of any investment is to create sustainable prosperity and intergenerational wellbeing. Their purposeful approach to building local economies and proactive job creation is aligned with the global need to increase the health and vitality of communities and ecosystems in a post-pandemic world.”— NZTE, Building Investment from Māori World View
The sky’s the limit
Having already supported 80+ businesses through the Business for Good programme, in addition to the 75+ Certified B Corporations in Aotearoa (and growing every day), it’s brilliant to see the bar being set for robust impact measurement and improvement across the country.
Naturally, this gets us thinking: what impact could be achieved if all 570,000+ Kiwi businesses were measuring and improving their impact in this way?
We’re incredibly grateful to NZTE for working with us to bring this programme to life and continuing to support us as we develop the scaled up ‘Business for Good 2.0’ – along with other partners like DNA (also a newly Certified B Corporation!). This nationwide version of Business for Good is being designed so that all New Zealand businesses, regardless of size or sector, can participate and embark on their journey towards greater social and environmental impact.
With a consistent impact measurement framework to benchmark our progress, and support for all businesses to be kaitiaki (guardians) of their people and the environment — Aotearoa could lead the way in demonstrating that a thriving economy is driven by purpose-led business.
We will continue to bring you exciting insights and developments as the Business for Good programme undergoes its national expansion and becomes more widely accessible across the country. If you have any questions about this or would like to get involved, please get in touch with Qiulae Wong, our Aotearoa Manager.
Until then, you can search for and support the growing number of B Corps and purpose-driven businesses throughout Aotearoa New Zealand in our free B Corp Directory, and learn more about the process of becoming a B Corp with this comprehensive How-to Guide. And if you would like more tailored one-on-one support, start a conversation with a trained B Consultant.