Born B: Startups Take On CSR with the Help of the B Team

Taking a fledgling company from startup to viable business isn't easy. In fact, 90 percent of all startups fail, according to Forbes. And although many entrepreneurs may be focused on getting by with the bare minimum until the business gets off the ground – a new school of thought is being championed by some of the world's most successful business leaders, advocating for CSR to be built into the business model from day one.

The B Team, founded by Sir Richard Branson and Jochen Zeitz, with members of the likes of Paul Polman, Ariana Huffington and Blake Mycoskie, is on a mission to catalyze a better way of doing business, focused on the wellbeing of people and the planet. And although most of the B Team's initiatives focus on helping big business turn the tide of "business as usual," the group is now setting its sights on "the little guy." Sir Richard Branson and Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff took to the stage at the Salesforce headquarters in San Francisco to announce Born B, a new effort to help the startup community "embrace and integrate social and environmental purpose into its core business model from inception." The Team believes startups have the ability to be "disruptive innovation, creativity and change" makers within the business world as well as powerful conduits to address global challenges. The Born B philosophy also notes it's easier to infuse social and environmental purpose into a company from the beginning rather than re-engineer the business after it becomes a massive corporation. To that end, the B Team provides a Born B toolkit to help startups on their journey, including a Born B Impact Assessment and guidelines on how to pledge 1 percent to creating community impact in addition to guidance on aligning the corporate governance model with the business' mission. The Team also has plans to engage venture capital and legal communities to ensure Born B businesses are given access to capital and support.

When Branson and Benioff made their announcement in San Francisco last month, 100 technology entrepreneurs came to listen. Even though most of the B Team members lead major companies or organizations, the group understands that holistic change must come from companies of all shapes and sizes and entrepreneurs are a major source of change and innovation. By engaging the startup community, the Team is building the next generation of businesses with social and environmental missions at their core.

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