20th Oct 2020

Balancing profit and purpose: why MMC became a certified B Corp

When Bruce Macfarlane and Alan Morgan founded MMC Ventures 20 years ago it was because they believed in the power of venture capital as a force for good.

That strong sense of purpose and the virtuous circle created by responsible investment remains as true now as ever. So to crown our 20th anniversary year, we are delighted to announce that we have been awarded our certification as a B Corporation (or B Corp).

Certified B Corps are businesses that meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose.

A virtuous circle

There's another time to tell the tale of MMC's 20 years, but it is fair to say that MMC has been a responsible investor throughout its history, and long before the structures like B Corp existed to benchmark ourselves. The foundations of B Corp echo with our long-held view that investment can form a virtuous circle when good decisions are made with a focus on maximising good outcomes for as many as possible.

Our commitment to companies looking to create sustainable choices for customers has led us over the years to back companies like Gousto, Senseye, Breathing Buildings, Pact Coffee, Wool and the Gang and Love Home Swap. As part of our current Seed fund (the MMC Greater London Fund) we have capital set aside specifically to invest in sustainable technology and the Circular Economy, which involves maximising value from resources and minimising waste. Through that fund we have already backed sustainable businesses Qflow, Recycleye, Pesky, Unmade and SLAMcore.

Our long-standing approach to responsible investing and good corporate behaviour meant that many of the things required to become B Corp certified were things that we were already doing, or wanted to do. We recently shared this post on our commitments to everyone we work with, our team, our community and of course the entrepreneurs we back - to go deeper, be more knowledgeable, and to be here for the long-term. We take our commitments to sustainability and fair business seriously, so challenging ourselves to passing the rigorous B Corp assessment was appealing.

Measuring our impact

Going deeper is what B Corp does. The certification process dug into our practices on pay, recruitment, eco-friendliness, governance, our relationships with our stakeholders - you name it, we've probably had to provide evidence of it. This is a full company exercise and a great chance to really evaluate what your company is and wants to be. The outward accreditation of our efforts and stance on many aspects of business practice is hugely gratifying.

We’re also excited to be part of a global community of over 3,500 B Corps in 70 countries and 150 industries that includes Ben & Jerry’s, Etsy, Warby Parker and Hootsuite. We’re particularly proud to join a small but growing number of firms in our own ecosystem publicly making a commitment to responsible business practices including Techstars, Bethnal Green Ventures and Mustard Seed.

“Certifying as a B Corporation goes beyond a product or service certification. It is the only certification that measures a company’s entire social and environmental performance. From your supply chain and input materials to your charitable giving and employee benefits, B Corp Certification proves your business is meeting the highest standards of verified performance.” B Corp website

This is just the beginning

Simply by going through the B Corp process, you find inspiration to improve and build on what you do. As a small company, we have formed many good habits but can now formalise and cultivate those into permanent, cross-team practices. In turn, this leads to better habits, and a desire to further challenge ourselves.

We already were partnered with educational charity IntoUniversity to mentor young people from disadvantaged backgrounds and provide work experience but the recent global discussion on diversity brought that commitment sharply into focus. Meanwhile, findings that companies with robust ESG practices seem to have weathered the pandemic better supports our long-held view on the importance of good governance, responsibility and taking a long-term approach to value creation.

We hope that by becoming B Corp certified, we can better encourage other companies (whether through the B Corp process or not) to run their businesses ethically and responsibly. We're already helping several MMC portfolio companies on their own B Corp journey, and hope to support many more in the future.

You can read more about MMC's sustainability and fair business goals here.

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