After supporting its portfolio companies through this journey for more than four years, Astanor ventures is proud to join the B Corp community.
From our inception, we have been on a purpose-driven journey as an impact investor, advocating for a world where profitability and sustainable practices are linked. Astanor Ventures was ‘born’ with the vision that businesses must be a force for good, and this conviction has shaped our trajectory.
Our commitment to sustainability and responsible business practices has been validated through achieving a strong B Corp score of 121.3, serving a testament to our unwavering dedication. This score is a source of pride and a recognition of our genuine commitment to fostering positive change through investments that prioritize both the people and the planet.
From the early days of Astanor, we had in mind to become a B Corp. It was just a question of time. We first had to build solid foundations. Over the last five years, we have been exploring what it means to be an impact investor, how to implement best practices and more importantly to identify ways to be an even more impactful investor. The work was not only on how to be an impact investor but also on how to be an impact employer and how to create a sustainable place to work.
Our theory of change as an impact investor is to invest in mission driven entrepreneurs that have identified a disruptive and innovative way to regenerate soil & human health. As an impact investor, our additionality is one of the key ingredients we bring to our portfolio companies: we are their sustainability partners. We support them on both their impact creation — their external impact on the people and/or the planet — and their ESG practices — their internal health. B Corp is an important ingredient of the latter and this is one of the milestones we help our portfolio companies to reach.
How do we embark our portfolio companies in their own B Corp journey?
We invest in start-ups, from series Seed to Series B. So early-stage companies which are focused on validating and getting their product or service out of the ground and then door. Often thinking about becoming B Corp is far from being a priority for our young portfolio companies. By building their ESG roadmap, we are gradually embarking them on bringing the right process and culture that will allow them to grow with the right framework which will allow them in turn to attract and retain talent. Slowly but surely, we are taking them through the path of becoming certified.
In my view, here are some of the key learnings of our portfolio companies’ B Corp journeys:
- It is never too early to start the B Corp journey. Although you might not want to go through the certification in your early days, I strongly recommend leveraging the framework as your roadmap. It will allow you to build best practice from the start and to organically grow with the right foundations. In case the company management is not yet fully aligned, keep it in the background. They will at some point realize the importance of such certification and you will have gained months of work by having the right mindset from the beginning.
- Sooner than later. Don’t wait too long. Even if there are many other urgent things to do in the early days of a company, try to do it when you are still small and agile. I have witnessed companies with more than 100 FTEs going through the certification and it is definitely a much more difficult, time-consuming and resource-intensive exercise for larger companies.
- Align to the B Corp legal framework (i.e. the update to the company’s Articles of Incorporation or equivalent governing document) at time of fund raising. This will allow you to save time and money.
- In case you still have some doubt — I have never heard a portfolio company complaining or regretting to be B Corp certified. I know it sounds cliché, but it is impressive to see the level of engagement the B Corp framework provides to teams.
Back to our journey at Astanor. Our B Corp achievement does not mark the end of our journey; rather, it serves as a milestone that propels us forward. We believe that sustainability is an ongoing journey, and there is always room for improvement. We are committed to leveraging our high B Corp score as a catalyst to drive further positive change and enhance our impact. We are actively exploring opportunities to innovate and integrate sustainable practices within Astanor and across our portfolio companies, advocating for responsible business practices, and driving positive change within our industry.
The B Corp working group we formed will, without a doubt, be busy in the next couple of years. In parallel, we have already embarked on our next B Corp ‘challenge’. After supporting Astanor’s portfolio companies in becoming B Corp over the last five years, we have now decided to embark our investors in this journey. Today we have only a couple of our investors that are B Corp certified. How great will it be to say in one year that 10, 20 or even more of our investors are on their way to join the B Corp community. Stay tuned!
We are dedicated to fostering a culture of collaboration and knowledge sharing within our community. Together, we can accomplish so much more.
Written by Leslie Kapin, Director of Impact at Astanor