Richmond resonates with a new energy emerging from a growing number of businesses and organizations dedicated to building a social enterprise culture. B Lab Co-Founder Bart Houlahan added to that buzz on May 8 as he spoke before 50 people gathered to participate in the first Social Enterprise networking event held at LaDifference on 14th Street in the capital city.
B Lab is a nonprofit organization dedicated to using the power of business to solve social and environmental problems. B Lab certifies and quantifies sustainable businesses and social enterprises across the country while also working to expand Benefit Corporation legislation.
The community of B Corps represents a new class of corporation that benefits society as well as shareholders. Unlike traditional corporations, B Corps must create a positive impact on society and the environment; considering how decisions affect workers, community, and the environment, and publicly report their social and environmental performance according to third party standards.
Richmond’s Social Enterprise networking event was sponsored by VCC working with i.e.*, an initiative of the Greater Richmond Chamber, New Richmond Ventures, Impact Makers, and TMI Consulting. VCC received B Certification from B Labs in 2011 and was approved as a GIIRS (Global Impact Investing Rating System) Impact-Rated organization a year later. While speaking at the event, Houlahan offered the following insight: “We are on the verge of movement, both nationally and internationally, where government and nonprofits are necessary but insufficient. We must harness the power of private enterprise to create public benefit.”
“Bart’s presentation was inspirational to everyone gathered last night,” said Teri Lovelace, Vice President, Community Investments & Impact for VCC. “We couldn’t be happier to see such a bold start to building a local network of like-minded organizations and businesses. In the spirit of B Corps across the country, our collaboration will contribute to redefining success.”
Houlahan also spoke at the Financial Planning Association and to a lunch gathering which included the evening event sponsors, social impact investors, and prospective B Corps.