Back at the launch of Fairtrade in the UK, I was a young twenty-something (optimistic) naive guy who went to the big smoke (AKA London!) to rub shoulders with “the ethical future of coffee”.I envisioned this as a new movement, making coffee more fair. I had lots of ideas about lowering the cost of coffee that was transparent and making it accessible. I thought this was the beginning of something ethically outstanding. Slowly my eyes opened to the fact that many of the people I was rubbing shoulders with, were looking for a new method, a new vehicle to almost make it compulsory to buy from them because of their ethical channel, which was (questionably) never about ethics or ingredients.
We left the Foundation, many years ago. You may understand my skepticism about B-Corps. I know it’s not exactly the same, however, I feel that under the skin of the shiny exterior lies a type of cosie capitalism that isn’t completely clean. There is an interesting article from The FT from February questioning if Nestle should be allowed in. I say yes if it isn’t a cute club for self-promotion. How can it be bad when a huge player wants to play by the rules? What if business didn’t just have to be bigger as their goal?
Hypocrite alert. In 2016, we decided that our dream was not to have a bigger company. This brings me back to Schumacher. Smaller businesses are often better at almost everything. People, the environment, scale, and purpose. I question the purpose of needing the B-Corp, rather than being against it.