Mighty Ally is a Certified B Corp!
What this means, why we did it, and how we stack up
For nearly a decade, we’ve personally supported brands with the little black circle emblazoned on their packaging. For the better part of our careers, we’ve admired companies boldly living out their felt responsibility to do good while doing well. For the past year, we’ve worked consciously to build our own model and practices in alignment with these trailblazers.
And today, we proudly announce our membership in the inner circle – we’re officially B CorpTM certified!
Our hybrid nonprofit/for-profit agency model is pioneering and a bit complex, but the decision to seek certification was easy. Read on to see what this means for us, why we chose to go for it, how we measure against our peers, and what it took to make the cut.
What is a B Corp?
Certified B Corporations® are for-profit companies that set and pursue social and environmental impact goals in lockstep with financial objectives. Put simply, they balance purpose and profit.
Unlike conventional for-profit entities that are beholden only to shareholders, B Corps are driven by and duty-bound to the greater good. We’re required to generate social benefits through our activities, consider all stakeholders in our decision-making processes, and be fully transparent about our performance.
B Corp is a business certification, much like Fair Trade is to coffee or USDA Organic is to milk. It’s a community, working together toward collective impact. An approach, breaking the norm of shareholder primacy. A movement, modeling a more ethical, responsible, and inclusive way of doing business.
And we’re super proud to join the ranks.
Who else is a B Corp?
The exclusive community is growing, but still quite small. There are 2,655 Certified B Corps across 150 industries in 60 countries with 1 unifying goal – to redefine success in business.
To put this in perspective, the most recent World Bank data (2007) shows roughly 20 million registered businesses around the globe. But Datapo speculates the truer reflection today is approaching 200 million. Either way, we’re in the company of less than 0.01% (that’s point-zero-one) of businesses operating with a formal commitment to balancing purpose and profit and seeking third-party verification of it.
Since its founding in 2006, the B Corp movement has gained solid momentum in the Western world, boasting greats like Patagonia and Ben & Jerry’s, giants like Seventh Generation and Danone, and visionaries like (pardon the pun) Warby Parker and Greyston Bakery. But it’s just now taking hold in Africa.
Mighty Ally is the 22nd B Corp in all of Africa and only the 2nd here in Uganda – though we’re certain it will become a wildfire movement among the current swell of young social entrepreneurs emerging from the continent.
Why did we seek certification?
We founded Mighty Ally on the premise that no organization can go it alone when tackling complex and systemic social issues like poverty, inequality, hunger, and public health. This holds true with nonprofits and for-profits alike.
We think cross-sector collaboration among organizations that share a common audience or vision is the best path to the greatest social change. And sometimes – as in our case – the strength of both sectors is needed to make a singular business model work. So we structured Mighty Ally as a hybrid nonprofit/for-profit, knowing upfront we wanted the latter to fully emulate the principles of the former.
Our client sweet spot is underserved NGOs and social enterprises with a $1MM – 5MM annual operating budget, sufficient human capacity, a focus on basic human needs, and the ability to pay a sliding-scale rate that maintains our sustainability as we help them achieve theirs. Due to service fee limitations established by the IRS for nonprofits, we need a for-profit arm to serve these changemakers.
Then there are times we believe strongly in a cause, approach, or the potential of a leadership team at the helm of a much smaller organization hustling on more like $500k/year. While we’re providing six figures in service value, they simply can’t afford an engagement in the neighborhood of market rate without external financial support.
For these clients, we use our nonprofit arm to raise funds, seek grants, and involve individual donors to supplement the organization’s own humble skin-in-the-game investment.
Plus, this is where the all-hands-on-deck aspect of our model does its heavy lifting. By engaging allies from marketing agencies and mission-aligned for-profit brands, we can turn a $1 investment into $4 of services so these high-potential changemakers get the full breadth and caliber of services they need and deserve.
Being a for-profit increases our earning potential to ensure our long-term sustainability. Being a nonprofit enables us to serve the under-underserved and include allies on the impact journey. And being a certified B Corp holds us accountable for operating in a manner congruent with our founding values. Win-win-win.
How do we measure up?
The B Corp certification process doesn’t just evaluate a product or service. It also assesses the inner workings and overall positive impact of the company itself.
Most companies that undergo the assessment score between 40 and 100 out of a possible 200 points. Obviously not all who make the attempt reach the summit. To validate a significant threshold of impact and qualify for certification, a company must garner more than 80 points – the current established average score.
Mighty Ally clocked in at a solid 113.5 – high enough to surpass “good” and “great”, landing us firmly in “outstanding” territory!
B Corp publishes all certified scores, and you can see the breakdown of ours here. In the spirit of transparency, we earned the most points (in descending order) on Community, Customers, and Governance, leaving Environment to bring up the rear.
Given our virtual office setup and the fact that we’re a services-based business, it was no surprise we didn’t earn many points for environmental impact. But now we have a compass in hand (the living B Impact Assessment – see below) and role models in our network (the B Corp community – see above), so we’ll know exactly how to be good environmental stewards down the road.
What’s the certification process?
The first step is navigating the strenuous B Impact Assessment – a globally-recognized standard that examines a company’s social and environmental performance, how it treats employees, the impact it has on customers and the broader community, as well as its accountability, governance, and transparency practices.
B Corps must meet (and maintain) a minimum performance benchmark that’s aggregated across multiple categories. The assessment requires extensive documentation, includes a thorough interview, and comes with a high probability of on-site review. In other words, B Corps have to clearly, comprehensively, and consistently walk their talk.
The assessment is lengthy but free, and anyone can (no, should!) take it. Certification was our end goal, but the process itself proved invaluable. It’s a well-researched and -supported starting point, and a living framework for evolving practices in a positive direction as a company grows. Plus it keeps said practices in check by continually raising the bar – every three years to be exact. While we’re certainly proud of our initial certification score, we look forward to elevating our own standards too as we seek re-certification in a couple years.
The second step is embedding the purpose commitment into the DNA (governing documents) of the company to uphold its responsibility even through a capital raise, change in hands, or shift in product/service focus.
The third step is penning a signature on the B Corp Declaration of Interdependence, formally binding us to the greater community.
And the final step is a cross-continental virtual toast, and a blog announcement to you fine readers of course.