by Nikki Hensley, BSC Associate and Ph.D. Candidate, College of Natural Resources, NC State University
This fall, the B Corp Clinic, kicks off its 11th semester, connecting NC State students with local and global companies to work on projects designed to drive social and environmental impact. This semester’s B Corp Clinic is only open to students who are taking MBA 582: Sustainability and Business, a new course taught by BSC director, Jessica Yinka Thomas. As part of the course, MBA and MAC students are working on B Corp Clinic practicum projects with six local purpose-driven companies: Lulu.com, Prota Fiori, 360 Rocks, Young Americans Protest, Ocaquatics Swim School, and Orora.
Last fall, five talented Jenkins MBA students paired up with Haven Ventures as part of the B Corp Clinic in MBA 582 and now, less than a year later, they have become B Corp Certified, joining over 3,500+ companies putting a priority on their social and environmental impact. Haven Ventures is a Triangle-based business out of Durham, NC with a mission to increase affordable housing options in central North Carolina. They are the parent company of Haven Developers, Haven Design, and Haven Build providing vast offerings from single-family homes to multi-family buildings.
The price of housing in the Triangle has increased tremendously as large companies bring high-paying jobs to the area and as more people move into the area every day creating a greater need for affordable housing. Haven is an important part of this movement and has further dedicated itself to sustainability by becoming a B Corp. The residences they develop aim to provide support, promote economic development, and enable easier access to food. Did you know that there are over 170 food deserts in North Carolina? That translated to hundreds of thousands of our neighbors without adequate access to fresh food. Haven decided to become a B Corp to show how much a social enterprise can accomplish and to have greater accountability for stakeholders within and outside of their organization.
B Corp clinic student consultants paired with Haven to develop a handbook that would eventually lay the groundwork for certification. In this three-pronged approach, they first used market research to benchmark where the company stood, then used the resources provided by the B Corp Clinic to gather what already existed, and lastly reached out to companies that had already gone through the certification process to find industry best practices. The handbook was built off the guiding principles Haven’s team already established. The detailed handbook not only benefits Haven but can be used as a framework for other companies aspiring to become B Corps or looking to improve their impact. Some of the practices Haven has in place include components of personal growth, fair recruitment, inclusive benefits.
Upon the close of the clinic, the student team provided Haven with a 12-month roadmap to certification. In their announcement, Haven shared that they are of the “select few Real Estate Developers, Architects, and Contractors in the world that have third-party verified impact built into every aspect of our operations and each one of our projects.” Haven went beyond what most businesses score on their first certification with a score of 90.5. We are excited to see what the future holds for Haven Ventures and the positive impact they have on the community.
Stay tuned for updates on the Fall 2020 B Corp Clinic projects.