Client Case Study

Specialist Research

B-Corp and Benefit Corporation research for Stewart Investors

 

Client profile

Stewart Investors manages long-term investment portfolios, founded on the principle of responsible stewardship (including sustainability). Many of their investments are in developing economies and their funds span a range of key focus areas, including a Latin America Fund and an Indian Sustainability Fund. As such, Stewart Investors is well positioned to make lasting change for society, in addition to providing favorable returns.

The challenge

Stewart Investors sought guidance on the process of becoming a certified B Corporation. A certified B Corporation, or ‘B Corp’ is a company which has been accredited for “meeting rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency” by the non-profit organisation B Lab. Not much was known about this emerging business movement, especially from an investor perspective.

Stewart Investors sought to understand why companies are motivated to join the movement, and what they can expect to gain and lose from the shift. Moreover, they wanted a research partner to help identify barriers and solutions to more publicly listed companies being B Corps and/or Benefit Corporations

Our solution

We conducted research on the B Corp movement from an investor perspective, gathering key data and trends. Our team also interviewed CEOs of B Corps and Benefit corporations to better understand their motivations and ask for their views.

Our analysis centered around three key themes:

  1. Motivation, costs, and benefits of becoming B Certified

  2. Identifying barriers and solutions for publicly listed companies

  3. Incorporation outside of the US

Outcomes

This work resulted in a paper titled “B Corps and Benefit Corporations: Understanding the implications for companies and investors.” It provided rigorous analysis not just for Stewart Investors but for all private sector actors who wished to explore the concept of mutually beneficial business models. 

KKS was invited to present the findings of the report to B Lab (founders of the B Corp movement) because of the fresh insights it delivers. The report was promoted by the Social Enterprise Alliance (a catalyst for growing the social enterprise movement in the US) and a shorter version of the article called 'Why aren't there more publicly-listed B Corps" was featured in Impact Alpha's sustainability news brief.  The report was highly valuable to the team’s ability to build internal knowledge and their engagement efforts.


 
We have been keen observers of this trend and commissioned KKS Advisors – who had recently run a forum at Harvard University on the topic – to help us understand the latest developments… The team benefited hugely from improving our understanding of the hurdles faced by our portfolio companies in approaching the possibility of adopting B Corp or Benefit Corporation status.
— Stewart Investors Sustainable Funds Group, Quarterly Client Updates