Better Know a B: !nspiraFarms
!nspiraFarms™ is a trademark of Enterprise Projects Ventures (EPV), who develop, manufacture and sell small scale food safety certifiable cold chain and post harvest technology into developing country markets. Paula Rodriguez shared her B Corp story with us.
Tell us a bit about the history of your company?
We are a private UK-Italian company, started by a Zimbabwean and Italian co-founders and currently with US and EU shareholders. EPV is 4-stars GIIRS rated for social impact & is certified as a B corporation.
For years EPV has developed, manufactured and sold small scale food safety certifiable cold chain and post harvest technology into developing country markets, targeting smallholder cooperatives and agribusiness SMEs in topical countries. The !nspiraFarms™ team is comprised of business, agriculture and engineering specialists with decades of experience in the agribusiness sector.
Why did you become a B Corp?
We became aware of B Corp through other great organizations working in our field (agriculture and technology) that were becoming B Corp certified. We realized the certification allowed us to demonstrate our triple bottom line approach to businesses, and show how profitable business can at the same time generate social and environmental gains. We wanted to show that our growing business was doing exactly that and B Corp was the right place to do that.
What excites you about being part of the global B Corporation movement?
B Corp is a movement that recognizes and gives value to companies who have a triple bottom line approach, being profitable while also generating social and environmental impacts. B Corp is globally recognized so can give us high exposure, demonstrates to others what we do and the impact of our business, and is a great network to engage with other B Corp organizations so we can learn from others.
Can you tell us about the impact that your company is having in the world?
EPV's technology, !nspiraFarms provides food processing and cold-chain solutions for value-addition and loss reductions in horticulture and dairy. Our solutions generates significant opportunities for rural economic diversification, income growth enhanced economic self-reliance for rural farming communities from increased food quality and value-added from processing, that gives the opportunity for increasing their revenues. The technology integrates solar-powered solutions, that allows reducing non-environmental friendly means of energy such LPG and coal while at the same time reduces the operative costs of small farmers.
What benefits have you seen since certification?
We have had exposure of our company and our brand, and we have had opportunities to engage in an entrepreneurial ecosystem in the UK
How did your other staff react to the certification?
They are aware of it and of its importance. Saying the company is a B Corp certified company has become part of our corporate speech.
What has changed in your organisation as a result of taking the B Impact Assessment?
We are more aware of our business model, what parts of it are critical for generating the impact we desire. We are a small company still (about 15 employees located in 4 different countries/locations) but employees' happiness and wellbeing has become a critical piece in our company mission, and for this we have implemented weekly meetings between the directors and the staff where we have open discussions about how we can improve performance to reach our targets and how we can help continue to improve employees' experience at work. Also the company has acquired health insurance that covers any emergency when the staff is abroad in missions.
What does the year ahead hold in store for your company?
2016-17 is a key and exciting period for EPV/!nspiraFarms. We are about to close two equity investments from international impact investors. This will allow us to expand our business by investing in research & development and in marketing/commercial efforts. Also this year we are entering new territories, including Tanzania, Colombia & Mexico where we are expanding our network of customers and partners, proving our multi-geography business approach.
Who is your B Corp crush?
Fruandes - they work with numerous smallholder farmers in Colombia, and are a company that place great importance on quality and food safety, with the objective of exporting fresh tropical fruits to the US and Europe. Just the right client/partner for !nspiraFarms!
It’s 2020, 5 years since you certified as a B Corp, what does the movement look like?
A global network that allows members to connect and exchange knowledge, integrating a wider segment of entrepreneurs, such as small & growing agribusinesses located in rural areas and tropical regions, who would be able to learn from other, bigger entrepreneurs from our regions.
What is inspiring you at the moment?
Knowing that over the last year food waste has become a hot topic in public and private spheres. There is a real focus on better practices in post-harvest management and the importance of transformation and value add of produce. That's especially important for smallholder farmers and is an opportunity for increasing their incomes.