B corp and Benefit corporation: are they the same?
Why was the legal form of Benefit Corporation / Benefit Company created?
Any private company, without exception, works to increase its profits. But there are also very particular companies, which do not give up profits but give themselves one more mission: to do something good for society and the planet. These companies are called benefit corporations.
One of the first challenges that led to the birth of the B Corp movement is the difficulty faced by many entrepreneurs in raising capital, growing or selling their business without losing the founding, social and environmental values that originate from the company.
Thanks to the leadership of the certified B Corp community, in 33 USA States and since 2016 also in Italy laws have been issued aimed at establishing a new type of company – the Benefit Corporation – which meets the needs of entrepreneurs and investors oriented towards a model a company that solves social and environmental problems, while aiming at the same time for solid financial results.
What is the difference between B-Corp and Benefit Corporation?
The term “B-Corp” refers to companies that have obtained certification from the person in charge (B Lab in the United States, Nativa in Italy). The expression “benefit company” (in English Benefit Corporation) refers to a specific legal status, introduced by the 2016 Stability Law, referring to commercial companies that aim to have a positive impact on the community and intend to operate in a sustainable and transparent way.
Where were the Benefit companies born?
Benefit companies were introduced in 2010 as a Benefit Corporation in the USA. The Benefit Corporation paradigm is now being spread in various countries and has been active as a new legal form of business in Italy, the first country in the world outside the USA, since January 2016.
Reputation, continuity of mission and values
Why become a B-corp?
The growing phenomenon of companies interested in the B-Corp certification translates into an investment in reputational capital. The B-Corp Warby Parker in 2015 was chosen in 2015 as the Most Innovative Company taking over from giants such as Apple, Samsung and Google. “Benefit corporations serve a dual purpose and will have better economic results than any other company,” said Nobel laureate in economics Robert Shiller.
Perchè diventare Benefit?
At present, the Benefit Companies do not enjoy economic or fiscal incentives. The transformation into a benefit company allows, thanks to the change of statute, to give continuity to the mission of common benefit, binding directors and any new properties to the pursuit of the statutory objectives.
B Corp is a company that has obtained the certification issued by B Lab; a Benefit Company (or “Benefit Corporation”) is a company which, assuming this legal form, provides by statute for certain elements in accordance with national legislation.
So a company can be:
- B Corp certified and to be a Benefit Company (or “Benefit Corporation”)
- B Corp certified, but not a Benefit Company (or “Benefit Corporation”)
- be a Benefit Company (or “Benefit Corporation”) but do not have B Corp certification
A fast growing community
In June 2018, however, almost 2,600 companies in BCorp certification were present in more than 50 countries and 130 sectors; the Italian ones are about 80. We mention some of them: Banca Prossima (banking sector), DLM Partners (occupational psychology), Emmerre (asbestos roofing and remediation), Easy Help (corporate welfare), Fratelli Carli (oil production and food specialties), Fratelli Damiano (industrial transformation of organic almonds), Nativa (design company; since 2012 has introduced BCorp and Benefit companies in our country), NWG Energia (marketing of electricity exclusively from 100% renewable sources; it is the first company BCorp certified benefit in the energy sector in Italy), NWG SpA (leading company in the photovoltaic market) and Perlage DOCG (organic cellar).