The B Corp Certification movement, started in the US and known for redefining the role of businesses in society, is gaining momentum in Central and Eastern Europe. More regional firms are becoming B Corps as a testament to their commitment to not just profit, but to a broader spectrum of stakeholders, including the environment and local communities.
“I believe that we are on the verge of an actual “B-Corp” movement in CEE. Companies in the region are recognizing the vast, distributed added-value of adhering to ethical principles as part of a sustainable supply-chain. The adoption of these principles and the relevant certifications is a slow process, because almost by definition, businesses starting up in the region are attempting to disrupt their niche and make their own way into a competitive commercial landscape. In this situation, important topics such as sustainability, fair-work conditions and the ethical application of their own product or service can take a back seat. Now we are seeing companies starting to recognize initiatives such as B Corp for what they really are – a competitive advantage and an attestation to an organization’s culture, values and vision for the market,” says Hester Gartrell, Chief Impact Officer and Director of the Humans in the Loop Foundation, which recently got its B Corp Certification.
According to the B Corp website, there were 21 B Corps headquartered in CEE member countries, with more than half (14 or 66%) sprung to life in the past two years. We talked to two of these companies – Humans in the Loop and Ampeco – to uncover what drove them to make this step and how it helps the growth of their businesses.
Scroll to the very end for a list of all B Corps from Central and Eastern Europe as of
What is the B Corp Certification?
Born in the US, B Corp, or Benefit Corporation, is a certification provided by the non-profit B Lab to companies that meet rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, transparency, and accountability. Unlike traditional corporations, which are driven primarily by profit, B Corp certified companies are also committed to generating a positive impact on society and the environment. As of October 10, 2023, there were 7,277 B Corps throughout the world.
Countries like the UK (1601), the Netherlands (246), and France (359) lead the way, with the number of certified companies doubling or even tripling in just a few short years. This growing popularity can be attributed to increased consumer demand for responsible products, the broader push towards sustainable practices, and the benefits the certification brings to the businesses themselves.
B Corps in Central and Eastern Europe
The benefits of B Corp Certification have caught the attention of Central and Eastern European companies that are striving to create a positive impact on society and the environment.
Humans in the Loop, a company with social impact embedded in their business model, is the fourth company headquartered in Bulgaria to receive the certification.
“The movement demonstrates that doing good business does not have to sit in opposition to social impact and brings together a global and European wide network of organizations which value purpose as much as profit. Taking action on issues such as climate change, workers rights or corruption is not only the role of NGOs and governments but must include the whole ecosystem in order to really make long term impact and change,” tells us Hester Gartrell, Chief Impact Officer and Director of the Humans in the Loop Foundation.
She adds that B Corp recognises that business must be part of any conversations or solutions to these challenges, and it helps create a community of companies, which together can lobby for good business practices.
Meanwhile, Ampeco, a producer of white label EV charging infrastructure software solutions, is the third certified B Corp in Bulgaria. While the company recognizes that the CEE region is well behind the rest of Europe when it comes to the spread of the certification, they see a positive trend at the moment:
“This trend is in line with the perception of the importance of the sustainability aspect among businesses in the region and the consumer demand for it. However, we at AMPECO see this already changing – even if not at the pace we’d like it to be – and this is great news for all. The B Corp movement catalyzes change regarding sustainable development and social impact, especially for small and medium enterprises,” says Orlin Radev, the company’s CEO.
Benefits for companies
To become B Corp-certified, companies must undergo a rigorous assessment by B Lab, which evaluates their impact on employees, customers, community, and the environment. Companies need to score at least 80 out of 200 points in the assessment to qualify. Furthermore, to maintain the certification, companies must re-certify every three years. In addition to the assessment, companies need to make legal amendments to incorporate stakeholder considerations into their decision-making processes.
So, why are more and more companies aspiring to get a B Corp Certificate, despite the challenges posed by a rigorous assessment process? B Corp certification offers a multitude of advantages in today’s eco-competitive landscape.
Establishing credibility and trust with customers
A B Corp certification offers companies a badge of honor, indicating their genuine commitment to positive social and environmental impact.
“The opportunities for HITL from a B Corp certification are extremely practical. We are seeing more and more of our customers become aware of the unfair labor practices rampant across the AI industry, particularly when dealing with the data annotation and collection processes. This immediately distinguishes HITL, as we have been committed to fair-work conditions and compensation from the company’s inception,” says Hester Gartrell, Chief Impact Officer and Director of the Humans in the Loop Foundation.
Talent attraction and retention
Many modern employees, especially millennials and Gen Z, prioritize working for companies that align with their values, which includes concern for the environment and society. The certification helps companies attract and retain such talent.
The certification process involves a thorough assessment of a company’s operations, often highlighting areas of improvement that can lead to increased efficiency and sustainability.
For AMPECO, the certification is an opportunity to measure and report on ESG-related business and customer outcomes.
Investor interest and confidence
With an increasing number of financiers looking to align their investments with sustainability principles, as shown through the ESG investing trend, the B Corp certificate can be a great way to signal this type of commitments and performance.
“Having a B Corp certification greatly alleviates the process of presenting evidence of our adherence to these principles of ethics and sustainability and serves as an recognizable signal for our potential clients and partners that yes, indeed, Humans in the Loop is an organization worthy of engaging with,” notes Hester Gartrell, Chief Impact Officer and Director of the Humans in the Loop Foundation.
AMPECO further underlines the importance of getting the certification to provide investors with a boost of confidence in the company’s value proposition.
There’s no question that B Corp commitments set the bar high. We’re looking forward to seeing how companies deliver on their pledges and what they can teach others in terms of practices.
A list of B Corps from Central and Eastern Europe
The list is presented in the order that companies received the certification, from the newest to the oldest.
Certified: September 2023
Description: An innovation and design studio.
Humans in the Loop
Certified: August 2023
Description: A social enterprise which provides human insights to AI systems.
Country: Czech Republic
Certified: August 2023
Description: A specialized sustainability consultancy operating in the Central and Eastern European region, providing full-service expertise on corporate ESG and sustainability strategy, implementation, and communication.
Certified: July 2023
Description: AMPECO enables large-scale EV charging providers to launch and scale their business operations under their own brand. The company offers a white-label and hardware-agnostic EV charging management platform to cover all business cases.
Certified: May 2023
Description: Polypan Group provides functional ingredients for the food industry, solutions for agriculture, technical textiles, and industrial products.
Certified: March 2023
Description: TerGo supports businesses and organizations with comprehensive carbon emission evaluation, reduction, and offsetting solutions.
Certified: October 2022
Description: GoodPlace is a boutique cycling and outdoor tourist agency, committed to improving the environmental impact of the travel industry.
Certified: September 2022
Description: Admind is a global branding agency serving high-profile clients set on growth.
Certified: September 2022
Description: BioBulgaria is the company behind Harmonica, an organic food pioneer in Bulgaria.
Certified: July 2022
Description: Neri Karra is a sustainable luxury leather goods label that aims to deliver exceptional high craftsmanship and quality.
Yellow Octopus Group
Certified: June 2022
Description: Yellow Octopus Group is an European provider of commercial sustainability solutions for the fashion industry.
Certified: May 2022
Description: wilderoben is a family-owned outdoor store that serves as a platform for brands that care for the planet.
Certified: April 2022
Description: Better (Goodbrand & Company) is a team of consultants in the field of ethical business, sustainability and regenerative economy.
Certified: January 2022
Description: The Poland branch of the multinational company producing dairy and plant-based products.
Certified: August 2020
Description: RAZ Finance aims to enable impact-financial data origin and authenticity verification across unalterable timelines, using blockchain technology.
Certified: June 2020
Description: Grupa ANG is a financial intermediary organization that aims to provide people with the financial services they need, understand and can afford at a fair price.
Certified: February 2020
Description: Netguru is a consultancy, product design, and software development company.
Certified: July 2018
Description: Benefit Systems is an international company with a Polish lineage which was established to support employers in creating friendly and motivational work environments by providing employees with perks and fringe benefits.
Certified: October 2017
Description: APIVITA was founded in 1979 by two young pharmacists who created the first natural products in their pharmacy in the heart of Athens.
Scale Impact Public Benefit
Certified: February 2017
Description: They offer a partnership and a marketplace to companies and professionals in order to achieve a joint and independent social impact.
Country: Czech Republic
Certified: February 2016
Description: Frank Bold is a purpose-driven law firm operating in the fields of science, research, and innovation and specializing in energy law, promoting renewable sources of energy. The company provides legal protection for companies and citizens from unauthorized interventions by the state.