Better Know a B: Ogunte
Ogunte believe in social impact made by women, and that influential, skilled and connected women with bold solutions to social and environmental issues can create sustainable opportunities to make the world a better place. They kindly spared us a few miutes to tell us more.
SD | Tell us a bit about the history of your company?
It all started in the Netherlands in 2001. I left a job in a large corporation and concentrated on equipping community activists, artists with a cause, to shape their idea, help them have a voice, be more sustainable. I later set up in the UK and grew a network of facilitators and coaches to work specifically with community leaders and aspiring social entrepreneurs. At some point, we realised that most of our customers and network members where women. These women were not attracted by the usual “Women in Business" clubs, and they also wanted something different than charity networks. We had no cup cakes to offer, and no fashion show. With us, they could talk business and purpose, with a gender lens. We designed programmes and events with them, around their needs and injected some fun, rigor and ambition. Our capacity building programmes are now delivered in the UK but also internationally, and mostly on-line. We also collaborate with European entrepreneurship programmes and private foundations to empower women and girls
SD | Why did you become a B Corp?
We wanted to go through a validation process that was not only outward facing or a “stamp” but also something that kept us on our toes, on top of our Community Interest Company status. The certification and its assessment mechanism helped us reflect on our behaviour and principles. As we service social businesses but also intermediaries all around the world, having gone through the process and speaking that language is crucial. We prototype and do what we preach!
I remember hearing about Sistema B in Brazil, as we were collaborating with new economic foundation. We were also supporting activists in Brazil and that was a breath of fresh air seeing the difficult context in the country. One of our Ogunte award winners in Canada, Donna Morton, had also certified her community energy company First Power. It was inspiring.
SD | What excites you about being part of the global B Corporation movement?
Connecting with other women-led organisations, system designers and influencers who work in different economic and political backgrounds. We need to be challenged.
SD | Can you tell us about the impact that your company is having in the world?
We have coached, trained and supported around 5500 women. We have created the first incubator for women social entrepreneurs and 87% of the participants said the programme had helped them grow their business, helped them think out of the box, and find out where and how they could innovate.
We have contributed to map and study women social entrepreneurship in 10 European countries and have a clear understanding of reality on the ground and the changes to bring in to accelerate the movement.
We are currently helping campaigners, social entrepreneurs and NGO’s to prevent violence against women online and off-line globally.
Lastly we have started to build a network of women social entrepreneurs ambassadors all around the world to give a diverse face to the movement. http://map.ogunte.com
SD | How did your other staff react to the certification?
Happy and impressed! As we do a lot of work online and internationally, we make a point of working with other socially conscious business women, and they are very happy with the achievement, they can learn from it!
SD | What has changed in your organisation as a result of taking the B Impact Assessment?
The assessment has contributed to build more structure and strategic thinking into the organisation.
SD | What does the year ahead hold in store for your company?
After our research 2 years ago, we have started to grow our support services to social business intermediaries (consultants, angels, marketeers, advisors, funders and program managers). They wanted group coaching, help with system design, gender lens capacity building, and personal development. So that’s what we gave them. Ultimately, as intermediaries become more diverse, more accountable and more exciting, it will reinforce the women-led social business community.
SD | Who is your B Corp crush?
For products, I love Elvis and Kresse.
For support services, I am smitten with Mandalah. (http://www.mandalah.com/) I think the Mandalah teams all around the world are doing a great job equipping others to be more grounded and conscious.
SD | It’s 2020, 5 years since you certified as a B Corp, what does the movement look like?
The B-corp movement counts a lot of social businesses from the Global South and is a vibrant, colourful and diverse community. It is also a movement that learns from and also mentors the charitable sector. It is a movement that counts as may women as men in a variety of sectors.
SD | What is inspiring you at the moment?
I have kept 3 continuous inspirations in my life: Bjork (http://bjork.com/), Manu Chao (http://www.manuchao.net) and Marcelo Yuka (http://marceloyuka.com.br/), who are 3 productive multi-artists, well traveled activists. They give the primacy to their message, the causes they support, the music, not themselves. They never stop working and learning. Their work is always in progress, they are the anti-heroes on our time and it keeps me on my toes. I don't like the hero-preneur trip.