How is the B Corp movement growing across the UK?

How is the B Corp movement growing across the UK?

Daisy Lavington, Business Sustainability Specialist runs through how the B Corp movement is growing in the UK

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B Lab growth priorities

Made up of over 1,700 businesses, the UK B Corp movement is a growing community of people using business as a force for good. By working with businesses of all sizes and sectors across the country, B Lab UK is making progress on its mission to create regulatory and cultural change towards a more equitable economic system.

While the movement has grown across the country, there are still significantly more B Corps based in London, the South East, and the South West. To ensure our movement is representative of the UK business population, we have set out to increase awareness of certification and provide support for companies in areas of the country with fewer B Corps.

Growing the movement across the country

B Lab UK activity in Wales and the North West of England

At the start of 2023, there were 26 Welsh B Corps. Now, there are 36, making it the biggest year for the growth of the B Corp movement in Wales. The Wales B Local launched in March and will be holding events in North and South Wales to connect like-minded businesses, create impact at a local level, and help raise awareness of the B Corp movement.

The number of B Corps has also been growing in the North West of England, with 55 companies certified before 2023, and 40 more joining the community last year. The launch of a Liverpool B Local, alongside the existing Greater Manchester group, will increase opportunities for engagement across the region. Finally, B Lab UK held a B Corp discovery event in Manchester in partnership with x+why and local B Leaders to raise awareness of the movement in the city. 

In addition to B Lab UK’s direct work in Wales and the North West of England, others across our network are working hard to raise awareness of B Corp Certification and the B Impact Assessment, while bringing purposeful businesses together to create systemic change at a local level. Some examples include Scotland CAN B, Cornwall B|23 cohort programme, and the Angel BID programme. 

Scotland CAN B

The idea for Scotland CAN B was sparked when B Lab co-founder Bart Houlahan visited Scotland to speak at an event in 2016, and asked “how might an entire nation of businesses learn to think like a B Corp?”. In 2018, this unique partnership between the Scottish Government and B Lab UK was launched by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon as the ‘first nationwide programme to measure what matters’. The team at Scotland CAN B has since engaged businesses, educators, investors, policymakers and others on the journey towards creating social and environmental impact through business. At the heart of Scotland CAN B’s work is the Impact Journey, which draws on B Corp tools and best practices, to support any Scottish business to comprehensively understand, measure, and manage their impact.

In 2022 we saw the launch of the world’s first Business Purpose Commission and in 2023 the appointment of a Cabinet Secretary for a Wellbeing Economy. Scotland’s ambitions of providing bold leadership towards a wellbeing economy have led to Scotland CAN B receiving more attention both from across the Scottish ecosystem and further afield from peers in Cornwall, New Zealand, and Wales who have been inspired to replicate this place-based approach.

Cornwall B|23

Wildanet’s B|23 programme brought together more than 40 Cornish businesses to use the B Impact Assessment to transform their companies and ultimately benefit the local community. Curated by Leap, the sessions took participants on a guided journey to complete the B Impact Assessment with inspirational keynote speakers and venues keeping the companies engaged. More than 10 businesses from the first B|23 cohort have submitted their B Impact Assessment to be reviewed for B Corp Certification. 

Amanda Pennington, Positive Impact and Community Liaison Manager at Wildanet shared that, “Wildanet’s motivation for B|23 was to have a collaborative approach to undertaking the B Impact Assessment. Things are always more enjoyable when they are shared with others and leading 23 other businesses through the programme made a difficult process enjoyable.” Following their participation in the programme, Wildanet gained B Corp Certification in December 2023. Leap and Wildanet will continue working together in 2024 to run another cohort programme for businesses in Devon. 

Matt Hocking, Founder, CSO, Leap Certified B Corp; 

“It’s been a huge success; so far, we’ve taken 40+ companies through the programme, leading us to start exploring with our friends at Scotland Can B what Cornwall Can B for the future equity for all in the region. If we used the same B Corp principles, what would a whole region approach (as if it was a business) look like.” 

Its been a huge success...leading us to start exploring...the future equity for all in the region. 

Angel Business Improvement District

A group of companies within the Angel Business Improvement District were supported through the B Corp certification process by group video calls led by B Leader Andy Hawkins. Ben Stephenson, Chief Executive of the Angel BID shared his motivation for launching a B Corp cohort programme in their neighbourhood: “As a Business Improvement District, which gathers businesses together in a single location to manage the local economy, Angel Islington BID was interested in thinking with B Lab UK about the potential in the creation of a cluster of B Corps in our neighbourhood, and what this could do to tackle place-based challenges.”

UK-based entrepreneurs facing systemic barriers to business ownership can receive a 40% discount on certification fees. To find out more about certification fees and the equity discount read here, and please note that you must apply for the equity discount before the Verification stage is completed. 

Future growth of the UK B Corp movement
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What does growth look like?

Future growth of the B Corp movement in the UK will prioritise growth across the country to create a community that is more representative of UK business. 2023 was a year of learning from our network and testing out new approaches. 2024 will be focused on working in partnership to scale what has worked well and to maximise our impact.