The Better Business Bureau

Five Philadelphia benefit corporations you should know

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By Grid Staff

Benefit corporations, which incorporate in a way that requires owners to consider community and environmental impact as well as their bottom line, are still relatively rare. But of the approximately 50 benefit corporations in Pennsylvania, half are located in Philadelphia, and they all go through a rigorous third-party certification with the nonprofit that started the certification, B Lab, via it’s B Impact Assessment tool. So when you’re about to look for goods or services, check out the list of companies at bcorporation.net to support enterprises that are committed to supporting you back. We wish we had room to list them all, but here are a few to get you started.

MIO

What They Do:
Provide design services and U.S.-made furnishings and lifestyle products with an eye on environmentally friendly materials, life-cycle analysis and end-of-life considerations for the products—even on a budget.

Why They Do It:
“As designers and entrepreneurs, we learnt early on that our moral grounding is an asset in business. Sustainability and social responsibility are a commonsense approach to business. Products are about people and experiences, so our focus is on our customers, how our products are made, used and those who make them.

“Back when we started MIO, making products in the U.S. seemed counterintuitive to most. To this day our material choices and our creative designs cause surprise. We strive to shift paradigms and bring sustainable products and stories to life.

“Our model is far from perfect! Staying true to our moral compass in business is a delicate art that even the most successful companies struggle with (just read or listen to Yvon Chouinard talk about Patagonia). These challenges make us a better company, but more importantly they make us better humans.”

Jaime Salm, creative director, MIO

mioculture.com

Vault + Vine

What They Do:
This full-service florist is a design studio, retail space and community center wrapped into one. The staff specializes in using seasonal, locally grown flowers and ethically sourced materials and products.

Why They Do It:
“Being a B corp is important because it provides us with a way to measure accountability in our actions as a business. Without this type of accountability, there’s no real way for consumers to know what and how we’re making a difference with our business. I also choose to certify as a B corp because a lot of people still hear sustainability and think ‘100% organic’ and ‘100% local’—both of which are important, but still just part of the equation. When it comes to ‘people, planet and profit,’ what we do best as a business is support our people: giving back to our community with time and money, hiring locally, buying locally and providing as many benefits to our employees as possible. From there, we use the B Impact Assessment to determine next steps for continuing to grow and improve ourselves as a business. Is it hard? Yes. Is it worthwhile? Absolutely!”

Peicha Chang, owner, Vault + Vine

vaultandvine.co

Organic Planet LLC

What They Do:
Organic Planet LLC offers personal chef services for people with unique dietary needs, with a focus on organic and healthful meals. It also offers value-chain coordination to benefit small farmers, as well as food safety education.

Why They Do It:
“The way I choose to do business really comes down to self-interest and common  sense. If I treat my colleagues, customers and suppliers with kindness and respect, I am more likely to receive the same in return. If I source from local food producers who are passionate and responsible in their methods, I get incredible food that inspires me to be a better cook, which helps my clients to be happy and healthy,  and keeps me in business. If I pay farmers fair prices and support them in their efforts to sell to the wholesale marketplace, they are more likely to stay in business. This means more agricultural land in sustainable production and a diverse and regenerative foodshed. I feel privileged to do this work and provide these services. I would be a fool to poison the living web that sustains me. Bottom line: It’s much more fun this way!”

Lindsay Gilmour, owner, Organic Planet LLC

lindsaygilmour@comcast.net

Houwzer

What They Do:
Houwzer is a full-service, tech--enabled residential real estate brokerage. It is the industry’s first commission-free listing model for home -sellers, and it pays realtors a salary rather than
through commission. 

Why They Do It:
“Houwzer was created to reimagine the home-buying and -selling experience for members in our communities. Our vision is to be the best real estate company in the world—enriching the lives of our clients and agents, while supporting our communities. Saving sellers half the cost on the sale of their home and providing buyers with trusted, salaried realtors was vital work toward our vision. Yet we wanted to take our commitment to the community a step further by ensuring our company values were carried out. Thus, Houwzer became the country’s first B corp residential real estate brokerage. Like our business model, Houwzer has approached social entrepreneurship uniquely. We like to call it the Rule of 10: giving back 2.5 percent of profits to charitable partners, spending 2.5 percent of our time volunteering, and allowing for at least 5 percent employee ownership. As we work to change the broken residential real estate industry, the B Impact Assessment will continue to ensure we are using business as a force for good.”

Mike Maher, co-founder & CEO

houwzer.com

EcoInnovate

What They Do:
This B corporation offers management solutions to companies that will create environmentally friendly workplaces. By instituting simple in-house changes to organizational behavior practices, EcoInnovate helps clients reduce waste, conserve energy and save money.

Why They Do It:
“Unfortunately, we cannot rely on political leadership and regulatory standards to drive the needed changes to protect our environment in our communities, states or country. A market-driven approach to change is important. We are proud to be a member of the growing B corp movement that supports and promotes environmental sustainability, social justice, transparency and accountability, while advancing its mission to help businesses implement positive changes in its processes.”

Allen Hall, director & partner

ecoinnovate.co