Who’s Saving America? The Promise of the B-Corp

We’ve had enough of cheaters for a while. Today let’s look at someone (or something) with the potential for saving America, or at least one corner of it.

Ladies and Gentlemen, the B Corporation!

What’s a B Corporation (or “B Corp”), you ask? It’s a new type of business that aims to benefit the community and turn a profit. These entities have a much broader mission than traditional companies and as such are rebooting the idea of business success. But they’re only one aspect of what I consider to be a trend among intrepid millennials – a new economic movement I’ll call Indie Capitalism.

The quote comes from an article by Kathleen Sharp, who (probably at her editors’ request) frames this in terms of Baby Boomers vs. Millennials, a sideshow that she herself winds up contradicting. Put that aside. This is a story worth reading!

While some may argue that B Corporations run counter to the free market system, I don’t see it that way. Rather, they look to me like an attempt to fill a hole. Most corporations are required by law to maximize profits. If you, as the head of the corporation, want the freedom to pursue other goals as well (such as doing good for the community or helping the environment), you are out of luck.

Well, that’s not exactly true. You can own the business yourself and do whatever you want. But if you want access to capital, you will probably need to buy into the profit-maximization plan.(Let’s leave not-for-profits for another day.)

That’s all fine. Investing stockholders, for the most part, like the system of maximizing profits. The last thing you’d want is to invest in some company that fritters away money on some pet cause. But what if investors also want to help the environment or do good for the community? Can’t they invest in responsible companies with a well-defined broader mission? Probably not, at least in the traditional model. The law doesn’t really allow companies that freedom.

Enter the B Corporation. A legal entity, available in some states, that embraces the concept of broader-mission corporations—and in so doing increases the freedom of corporations and investors who want to see their time and money spent in advancing these goals.

Here we go, America! Long live the B Corporation! Let’s start saving America from the cheaters!

And…onward and upward!

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