Small Giants walk tall in the land of social enterprise

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Melbourne-based investment firm Small Giants has become the first Australian company to be certified as a “B Corporation”, which uses business to solve social and environmental problems.

Founded in 2007, Small Giants aims to create and support social enterprises by way of partnerships and investments.

Its portfolio includes Hub Melbourne, organic tampon brand TOM, ethical consumer group The Herd, community-owned wind farm Hepburn Wind, and non-profit childcare service Goodstart.

Small Giants has become Australia’s first B Corporation, which recognises a new type of corporation that uses “the power of business” to solve social and environmental problems.

Originating in the United States, B Corporations are selected by non-profit organisation B Lab, which certifies them in the same way TransFair certifies Fair Trade coffee.

B Lab was set up by Jay Coen Gilbert, Bart Houlahan and Andrew Kassoy who “share a passion for creating a better world through business”.

Prior to B Lab, Coen Gilbert and Houlahan were co-founder and president of a $250 million basketball footwear and apparel business.

Kassoy, meanwhile, has spent his entire career as a private equity investor, most recently as a partner of MSD Real Estate Capital, a $1 billion real estate fund controlled by MSD Capital.

Globally, there are more than 500 certified B Corporations across 60 industries.

Small Giants chief executive Danny Almagor says his organisation came across the movement about 12 months ago.

“After realising that there was no equivalent movement in our region, [Small Giants] set about becoming accredited… We are now more excited than ever about promoting better business.”

“[Being a certified B Corporation] gives us that kudos in the market… Hopefully it’s kind of an assurance that we’re genuine.”

Almagor says while profit is an important part of business, there are more exciting parts.

“The more exciting parts for us are about the relationship with staff, stewardship of the environment… and a deep respect for our customers, clients and suppliers,” he says.

“There are many remarkable businesses doing inspiring things in Australia that share the values of a B Corporation.”

“We are keen to meet them and look forward to working with them to build a powerful and impactful B Corporation movement in Australia.”

Almagor says while the companies in the Small Giants portfolio cover a broad range of areas, they all share one thing: a passionate, capable entrepreneur at the helm.

“There have been some outstanding business ideas [in the past] but no one who would champion it internally. If you don’t have a champion, you don’t have a business,” he says.

Meanwhile, Dermott Hikisch, head of community development at B Corporation, said the group is “humbled” to have Small Giants become the first B Corporation in Australia.

“Businesses that make the cut and become a certified B Corporation fully embody the type of company our world needs to move towards the new economy,” Hikisch said in a statement.

“We’re excited to have Small Giants as a part of the B Corp movement.”

“Their focus in making social enterprises thrive will amplify this positive impact, and far beyond what one company can typically do alone.”

This article first appeared on StartupSmart.

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