As written for The Power of Impact Investing: Putting Markets to Work for Profit and Global Good by Judith Rodin and Margot Brandenburg.
“It’s time for a fresh approach to our kids’ nutrition,” say Kristin Richmond and Kirsten Tobey, cofounders of Oakland-based Revolution Foods, a company whose mission is to build lifelong healthy eaters by making “kid-inspired, chef-crafted” food accessible to everyone. The way they do this, they explain, is by “revolutionizing” the food available at stores and schools, particularly in low-income communities. Every day, from local kitchens, the company prepares healthy meals using natural ingredients free of high-fructose corn syrup, artificial colors, flavors and preservatives and delivers those meals to schools, with at times all costs covered by the federal school lunch reimbursement program.
The two founders link the health of children and the health of the nation. “There were a lot of great efforts going on in education reform—but no one was paying attention to what we were feeding kids at school and how that sets them up for success,” says Tobey. Since it started in 2006 as a small operation serving 300 meals a day, the company has expanded rapidly. Revolution Foods now delivers more than a million fresh, healthy meals each week to schools across the United States and distributes convenient, natural “Meal Kits” to retailers across the nation.
The year 2011 marked a milestone for Revolution Foods—that was when B Lab certified it as a B Corporation, demonstrating that it had met rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, legal accountability, and transparency; and providing potential investors with robust evidence that the company was creating impact. In doing so, it joined hundreds of certified B Corps (by 2014 there were more than 900 in 29 countries). Once certified, these companies can tap into B Lab’s portfolio of services and support. A sister organization, Sistema B, is running a similar program in Latin America through which companies can become certified as “Empresa B” organizations. And as discussed in The Power of Impact Investing: Putting Markets to Work for Profit and Global Good, legislation now allows companies in many places to register as a new type of business entity: a benefit corporation.
For impact enterprises such as Revolution Foods, B Corp certification has several advantages. It can have operational benefits. For Revolution Foods, this includes obtaining discounted prices from certain vendors. And by distinguishing the company, it can help build trust, and pride, among staff and customers (stakeholders that are critical to the success of a high-impact business). In addition, because B Corp certification includes a legal requirement that a company expand its fiduciary duty to consider stakeholders, not just shareholders, it puts the founders’ mission into the legal DNA of the business, making it more likely that its values will survive new investors, new owners, and new management as the company grows.
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