There is a tangible excitement in the air this week as the international community gathers in New York to usher in the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – the ambitious new vision for ending poverty and protecting our planet.
Beyond the audacious scope of the Goals, something else is happening that is perhaps even more significant: a disruption in the model for how they will be delivered. Rather than being the preserve of governments and the traditional development community, everyone is being invited to take responsibility for their success. The sheer scale of what is needed means that each one of us – whether in government, civil society or business – must play a role.
To be effective, we must each play to our strengths. For business, that means looking to our core business models, products and services and unleashing a new wave of innovation and creativity. As Peter Drucker has famously said, “every single social and global issue of our day is a business opportunity in disguise.”
And here’s the exciting part – more and more businesses and entrepreneurs are turning their sights to helping solve some of the world's greatest challenges – whether that’s access to clean energy, affordable irrigation or financial services.
One sign that a revolution is coming is the rapid growth in the number of Certified B Corporations (also known as “B Corps”) – a new type of company that explicitly uses the power of business to solve social and environmental problems. Already close to 1,500 companies from 130 industries in over 40 countries have met the rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency.
This week B Corp certification is being launched in the UK, and I’m very proud to say that Inspiris – the for-purpose company behind Business Fights Poverty – will be one of the founding B Corps. As a Certified B Corp, Inspiris joins the prestigious ranks of companies like Ben and Jerry’s, Patagonia and ClimateCare.
Social purpose has been at the heart of Inspiris ever since we set it up nearly 10 years ago. Over the years we have focused on building networks and partnerships at the interface of business and development – starting with Business Action for Africa, and more recently creating Business Fights Poverty as the focus for our efforts to strengthen the ecosystem for all those working to harness business for social impact.
The success of the SDGs will rely in very large part on bold, purpose-driven innovators around the world, whether within large companies or small start-ups, who will see the world’s remaining social challenges as the world’s biggest business opportunities, and take massive action to solve them.
At Inspiris, we ultimately want to help build a global movement of these individuals who are using business as a force for good. Becoming a Certified B Corp is a special moment for us in our own journey. Not only does it help us transparently communicate our social mission and core values, but it will help accelerate our own efforts to scale the creative revolution that is already underway.
Business Fights Poverty is involved in a number of events happening this week on business and the SDGs and is launching a report on the topic with the Harvard Kennedy School CSR Initiative. For more information, as well as commentary and analysis, visit the Business Fights Poverty SDG Zone.
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