The Triple Bottom Line Revolution
As of Accepted Student’s Day, I’ve heard Babson’s emphasis on the triple bottom line—that businesses not only have to make a profit, but it is just as critical that they’re good for the people and the planet as well. When I was applying to Forager this summer, I was excited at the prospect of working for such a company. Forager is a for-profit startup, but its mission of making local food more accessible is just as important. These kinds of businesses are literally what gives me faith in humanity. The United States’ capitalist economy provides all motivation and encouragement to ignore the concept of enough and make as much money as possible at the expense of your neighbor. Yet, businesses with a triple bottom line (also known as mission-based) prove that there’s compassion and awareness in business leaders.
Before my internship, I learned of B-Corporations, which are companies that have been certified as having a balance of purpose and profit (e.g. Patagonia). And in my first-year entrepreneurship class, a professor brought in the founder of UncommonGoods, an online marketplace, and he provides his employees a living wage on principle (one of their many social and environmental initiatives). While I was extremely impressed and excited for these companies, I knew they were far and few. It isn’t the standard for a founder to exercise moral principles into their business plan and hold onto them through all the pivots and obstacles of launching a business.
During my internship, I have done a lot of research on angel-investors and venture capitalist firms. What I found, astounded me–there are hundreds, if not thousands, of impact investors, which are investors (or firms) that fund with the intention of beneficial social and environmental impacts in addition to a financial return. I have scanned a lot of VC websites in the past few months and they care that a founder wants to do good, they care that there are measurable social and environmental effects, and they know that the best returns come from such businesses.
With the criteria of being funded changing, businesses will have to follow suit—I’m excited for this generation of businesses.