What is an impactful business model?

5 min read

StrategyAll Sectors

Every business has stakeholders – those groups that are affected by or affect the company’s operations, and considering the impact you have on these your stakeholders is an important piece in the sustainability puzzle.

What’s the importance of purpose and culture and how can it improve results?

Increasingly businesses aiming to become more sustainable are putting in place policies and practices that help to minimise the negative effects of their operations on stakeholders as well as maximise the positive effects.

However, some are going even further. There are for profit companies deliberating designing their entire business models to create positive impact for a certain stakeholder group: their employees, their suppliers, society or the environment. These are referred to as impactful business models. 

An example of this type of company is one that operates a ‘buy one give one model’ in which their whole business model is based on driving significant cash or product donations to communities in need. Another could be a company making its products from recycled materials, so their business model is based on taking what would otherwise be waste products and turning them into inputs in their manufacturing process. Therefore, when the company is successful, the environment also benefits from more waste products being recycled rather than going to landfill.

Many of our B Corp community have chosen to develop their companies with an impactful business model. To hear the benefits of such an approach listen to our webinar.

  • Bird Sunglasses – A sustainable eyewear company, Bird not only use sustainable materials in their sunglasses and packaging, but they also have a purposeful partnership with SolarAid. As part of this partnership, a family in Africa benefits from a solar lamp every time a customer purchases a pair of Bird sunglasses. These solar lamps replace dirty kerosene lamps and create a safer environment in which families can learn and earn for longer as well as giving off less carbon dioxide.
  • Wholegrain Digital – A green web design company committed to building websites that start to reduce the carbon emissions of the internet. The internet is responsible for roughly the same amount of global carbon emissions as the aviation industry and Wholegrain Digital have taken on this challenge by optimising their web design and development process to focus on energy efficiency. They have also created an innovative Website Carbon Calculator to analyse the effect your website has on the environment.
  • Fluid IT – A IT services company created to bring transparent, trustworthy and reliable IT services to charities and social impact organisations. Fluid IT intentionally hires people with traditional barriers to employment. Individuals coming from homelessness, prison, rehab or youth engagement schemes can not only find work with the business but also on the job training and opportunities to advance.
  • Ecobooth – A sustainable events company that adopt a circular approach when creating experiences within the events industry. While traditional products created for events are either incinerated or end up in landfill, Ecobooth divert used plastic away from these outcomes by using this waste product to create products that would otherwise be made from virgin plastic. For example, they recently created an exhibition booth used from 250,000 old drinks straws.

James Ghaffari is a Director at B Lab UK. B Lab UK is home to the B Corp movement a global community of people using business as a force for good.

For more information, view our Sustainability & Business - Impactful business models webinar

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