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B Corp benefit corporation could put Whanganui on the map

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Patrick Brookman from Whanganui, director of business consultancy Taikaka Consulting, Tim Jones, CEO and founder of Grow Good Company, with Helen Garner, chief executive of Business Whanganui (Chamber of Commerce).

Business Whanganui hosted a networking event on November 21, and a series of one-to-one meetings for local businesses interested in exploring B Corp and the concept of business for good.

“B Corp or Certified B Corporation (benefit corporation), is a third-party independent verification of a company’s social and environmental performance as a for-profit company,” said Tim Jones, the chief executive and founder of Grow Good, based in Christchurch.

He was invited to speak about B Corp at an event hosted by Helen Garner, the chief executive of Business Whanganui, on Tuesday night.

New Zealand has about 130 B Corps and there are 8000 globally. The first B Corp business in Whanganui was Black Pine Architects, owned by Duncan Sinclair, which was certified earlier this year.

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The B Corp framework looks at five main areas of business performance.

Governance: Can people find out who owns the business easily? Is the business doing more than just financial reporting – is it doing an impact report to say what good it does?

Workers: How are staff treated, are they paid well, are there opportunities for career development and training?

Community: Is the company supporting charities and not-for-profits? Does it hire locally? Look at supply chains – is it buying locally for products and services?

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Environment: How much energy is being used? Where does it come from? What is its wastewater and carbon footprint?

Customers: What does your business sell and how does it sell? Do you have quality assurance in place, with guarantees, warranties, and customer service?

“B Corp covers a broad range of topics. It’s a useful framework to think about your business and understand how you are performing in all ways, not just financially,” said Jones.

Patrick Brookman from Whanganui-based Taikaka Consulting spoke at the event too.

“Tim and I met about five years ago. I’d spent a number of years in the USA and other overseas markets involved with commercial mergers and business acquisitions in the food and agricultural space mainly,” he said.

“I hadn’t heard of B Corp until I came back to New Zealand. I became fascinated because my background was in quality management and continuous improvement.

“In corporate life, there was a fundamental focus on profits, above anything else. I intuitively thought there should be a better way of doing things like this, being more holistic in an approach to business and growing communities.

“I relocated my family to Whanganui five months ago from Auckland for a change of lifestyle. I met Helen Garner, chief executive of Business Whanganui (Chamber of Commerce), and we talked about how I might use my skills and experience to make a positive contribution to the local business community.

“Overseas, there is a real fascination for New Zealand businesses – the ‘Provenance Story’ in the USA in particular. I was there last month with some clients, they just love the provenance of any product coming out of New Zealand, period. Whanganui has an opportunity to take a position in that.

“People overseas see New Zealand as being clean green, there’s something to be said for that. They are seeking to do business with more integrity – profit-only is less acceptable now. People in the USA love our style, the way we come across, the way we focus on a project and get things done.

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“It’s nice being able to sleep better at night, having done due diligence on the supply chain and the way you conduct business,” said Brookman.

“There is increasing pressure locally, nationally, and overseas for better transparency and accountability when it comes to how business operates. The great news though is that businesses that do good also tend to do better financially.

“B Corp businesses are outperforming on staff attraction and retention, customer acquisition, getting investment and managing supply chain pressures – proof you can have your cake and eat it too,” said Jones.

Helen Garner said: “We’re committed to championing the Business for Good concept in our region because of its benefits for people and place, as well as profits. Our vision is for a vibrant, healthy, prosperous business community that supports Whanganui as a great place to live, work, learn, play, and do business. Business for Good offers proven a framework to help us with this.”

Business Whanganui is running a series of Business for Good short workshops facilitated by Brookman early in 2024. Find out more www.businesswhanganui.nz and www.growgood.co



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