April 19, 2018
By Iman Usmani, BSC Associate
NC State University and Elon University teamed up for the second year in a row to present B the Change: Benefit Corporations as a Force for Good in the World. The event started last year at Elon University as a way for students to engage with local benefit corporations in North Carolina. The networking event was hosted by the NC State University Poole College Business Sustainability Collaborative, the Elon University Doherty Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership, and Elon University’s Student Professional Development Center.
Poole College Dean Annette Ranft kicked off the event, saying in her opening remarks that "at Poole College, we approach complex challenges by bringing together and harnessing the power of the varied skills, talents and experiences found through academic and industry partnerships. The work that the Business Sustainability Collaborative does with B Corps is a strong example of that approach. It’s because of the possibilities these partnerships offer that we are together here today – providing students with meaningful experiences and organizations with valuable insights."
According to John Feasel from The Redwoods Group, “B The Change means creating the most good for the most people. It’s less about insignificant changes and more about making changes throughout the whole world. That’s why B The Change is so great and why I’m so enticed by those involved.”
The companies each did a quick pitch of what they do along with how they perform as B Corps.
HQ Raleigh, a collaborative for entrepreneurs and innovators, emphasized their belief in being a place for problem-solving. They embody the B Corp mission by having a strong presence in community by encouraging diversity.
Inspiring Capital is a growth consulting firm that wants to develop leaders who aspire to do well. The company does this in a variety of ways including having a fellowship for students and women. Likewise, they focus on social and environmental consulting with businesses as well as ensuring that their employees have a good work-life balance.
Lulu is an online publishing platform that allows anyone to publish content online for free. There are currently 1.1 million authors. Once a book is published online, authors can set their own price and get paid 80% when it sells. It can be printed on demand and is paid by order which reduces waste.
Participate is a B Corp based in Chapel Hill which focuses on bringing international teachers to the US. the teachers work in global or bilingual schools as well as an online learning platform. Participate is a top tier B Corp.
Protopia is a start-up consulting firm in Raleigh that started with the intention of being a B Corp. The company focuses on connecting students to alumni. Protopia worked with students in the B Corp Clinic to achieve their goals as a B Corp. Their main goal is to work and increase their already large alumni network.
The Redwoods Group is an insurance company that is socially minded. They generate data in order to develop best business practices. Their focus is to keep kids and adults safe while generating sustainable and manageable growth.
South Energy Management is a solar energy company which is focused on changing how people make and use energy. The company does this by creating energy efficiency and renewable energy programs. They received the “Best for the Environment” B Corp award.
TS Designs is a T-shirt design company which was the first benefit corporation in North Carolina. They are an apparel business with a focus on a transparent supply chain as well as support to the community.
The B the Change networking event allowed for students to engage with these B Corps by doing 5 speed-networking table rounds. According to Keith Jenkerson, the best part of the event was “The 10 minute meet and greet by far” because he connected “with individuals [to] see what they’re all about.” Likewise, Malik McCray, a junior studying at Poole College, is interested in B Corps because he sees himself “inspiring those around me to take a different perspective in how they view life and business.”
The networking event brought purpose to the students and companies alike because sustainability and innovation are becoming intertwined within business. According to Jessica Porta from HQ Raleigh, “These days you can’t separate sustainability and entrepreneurship. In the next generation people will be looking for companies with a purpose. It’s not ‘what you do’ but ‘why are you doing it?’”
There is a shift in the way business is being done - consumers are being more conscious of where their products are coming from and how business is being done. B Corps embody the values of the good businesses that consumers want to engage with and students want to work for.