A provocation for mission-led businesses

Illustration of people with hands in the air

In 2021, we’re making “mission-led” business a major focus of our work at the New Citizenship Project. As a proud B Corporation, we’re part of this movement ourselves, and we believe it could be doing so much more.

It’s true that purpose-driven firms are radically rethinking sourcing practices, product design, circular value chains, marketing, employee voice and stakeholder engagement in order to build a more equitable and sustainable economy. But it’s all happening behind the counter.

The products may be game-changing and the services may be disruptive, but when it comes to the customer, too often the imagination falters.

Participation is the next frontier for purpose-driven enterprises

Illustration of people with hands in the air

By Oliver Holtaway, Senior Strategist at New Citizenship Project.

Purpose-led companies, including our fellow B Corps, have made tremendous strides over the past decade in challenging “business as usual”, inventing new social impact business models and delivering tangible change. But fiendishly complex economic, social and environmental problems continue to mount. We’re now facing our own moment of reckoning, a challenge to “good-business-as-usual”. It’s time for the mission-driven business movement to step up and find an extra gear.

We believe that extra gear is participation.

As purposeful brands, we limit our potential impact when we confine ourselves to delivering positive change…

Tony’s Chocolonely is “crazy about chocolate, serious about people”… and about to hit the UK.

photo credit: Tony’s Chocolonely

Has doing the right thing ever tasted so good?

Chocolate has a problem. Despite the best efforts of Fairtrade and other initiatives, unequal supply chains are pushing cocoa farmers into poverty, leading to modern slavery and child labour in the West African farms which supply 60% of the world’s cocoa.

That’s why Dutch confectioner Tony’s Chocolonely is fighting to make 100% slave free chocolate the norm.

A certified B Corp founded by crusading journalists in 2005, the brand has worked tirelessly to reinvent the supply chain and raise awareness of the issue. …

By transforming our relationship to food, smart businesses and savvy citizens can build a food and farming system that works for all

Credit: Riverford Organic Farms

A new trend is emerging in people’s attitudes to food and farming: a movement that the Food Ethics Council calls “food citizenship”.

According to this way of thinking, our connection with the food and farming system goes beyond the simple act of consuming food. This movement is based on the growing realisation that, whether consciously or not, people are naturally collaborative and want to help one another, and that they care deeply about where their food comes from and how it is produced.

This is giving rise to pioneering businesses that are starting to engage with the ‘food citizen’, and…

A case study in customer collaboration, creative thinking and partnership among B Corps — and how to look beyond the obvious solutions.

Adam Huttly, founder of Red-Inc. Photo credit: Red-Inc.

Red-Inc is a multiple-award-winning office products company that puts innovation and sustainability at the heart of everything it does. A certified B Corp, Red-Inc is committed to reducing environmental impact and product costs while delivering a highly customer-centric service.

Sometimes this means balancing complex priorities. In this guest article, Red-Inc founder Adam Huttly takes us through how Red-Inc is wrestling with the issue of low-impact distribution by going back to its purpose and values.

London is a congested city but thankfully the world is slowly opening its eyes to the pollution. Air quality, emissions and traffic are really bad and…

We’re working with Matt Crisp, a leading expert in smart cities and human-centred technology, to help mission-led businesses connect technology and strategy to purpose and commercial advantage.

Matt Crisp, Associate, Strategy and Technology, The House

There is a huge opportunity for purpose-led businesses across a variety of sectors to drive profitability and mission by engaging with the smart city agenda. That means using innovative digital technology such as data sensors, “big data” analytical modelling techniques and AI to enhance wellbeing, make services better and increase communities’ ability to respond to local and global challenges. But where to start?

That’s where Matt comes in. Matt is the former MD of Big Belly UK, a world leader in smart cities, smart waste and recycling. A global smart data business, Big Belly UK uses cloud-based technology to improve…

Scrapping single use coffee cups is just the latest step that the Bristol-born chain has taken to drive social and commercial impact.

Sam Roberts, co-founder and CEO, Boston Tea Party

In June 2018, café chain Boston Tea Party grabbed national headlines through a bold initiative. Under the banner of “No Excuse For Single Use”, the family-owned café chain banned single use coffee cups from its cafes forever. Instead, customers can buy or borrow reusable cups, available in a variety of sizes and designs, at a subsidised rate.

It may seem like a risky move for the fast-growing café chain, which now boasts 22 cafes in cities and towns across the South West and Midlands. But it’s a decision that sits firmly within the company’s stated purpose: to “Make Things Better”.

How housing associations can benefit from fresh thinking about smart sensor tech and changing healthcare needs

“Housing is healthcare.”

It’s a common refrain among leaders working on public health issues, ranging from substance abuse, ageism, community fracture, education inequality, loneliness and safeguarding to obesity and food insecurity.

In fact, we believe that it’s impossible to separate the future of social housing from the wider challenges around how our society will care for emerging healthcare needs. And that’s especially true when it comes to the needs of our ageing population.

The good news is that forward-thinking housing associations are well placed to tackle these problems and deliver more social impact in the process.

In the UK alone…

How RHP has built an innovative culture that leads the social housing sector

David Done, Chief Executive, RHP. Image credit: RHP

Providing safe and sustainable housing for all is one of the world’s biggest challenges. To achieve this goal, housing providers of all kinds need to tap into innovation and fresh thinking.

This is especially true in the social housing sector, made up of companies with social missions who are under increasing pressure to do more with less. By embracing new technologies and rethinking old ways of working, future-focused social landlords are transforming their commercial capabilities and thus enhancing their ability to deliver social good.

RHP is one such organisation. Whether it’s prototyping modular homes or pioneering an all-digital service, RHP’s…

The House is partnering with a new collaborative network of smart tech, innovation and housing experts to create Future Housing Lab

Housing associations are under more pressure than ever to innovate services and find ways to do more with less. At the same time, demographic shifts are changing what people need from their homes, neighbourhoods and communities, while technological advances are changing what a home can be and do.

How can today’s social housing providers make sense of the opportunities and challenges of the present, and build the innovative cultures of the future?

That’s where Future Housing Lab comes in. We’re a group of clever and compassionate thinkers and doers who ask the right questions and help you to create forward-thinking…

Oliver Holtaway

Senior Strategist, New Citizenship Project

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