B Corp Certification: Elevating MENA’s Businesses Social and Environmental Impact

The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region is witnessing a surge in sustainability initiatives.The UAE’s commitment to sustainable development with initiatives like the Net-Zero emissions goal by 2050, COP28 hosting, the innovative 10-year Blue residency visa, and the Dubai Quality of Life Strategy 2033. The ‘We the UAE 2031’ vision fortifies this commitment, aiming to attract global talent and diversify the economy.

Parallelly, Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 is reshaping its economic landscape, reducing oil dependence, diversifying the economy, and nurturing social entrepreneurship. A PwC study suggests these efforts could boost the GDP by 2.5% and create over 250,000 jobs by 2030.

More is happening in the region, yet, integrating social and environmental impact into business models remains a challenge for many companies in the region. This is where B Lab standards and B Corp certification can be transformative, providing frameworks that revolutionize business practices.

The Challenges of Integrating Sustainability in MENA

Despite the progress, challenges remain in fully integrating sustainability in the private sector, notably:

  • SMEs’ slow adoption: SMEs make up to 90% of businesses and contribute 63% to the non-oil GDP in the UAE but often lag behind larger companies in adopting sustainability practices.
  • Lack of standardized recognition: There is a significant gap in the adoption of international sustainability and impact-related standards that provide recognition for local businesses on their environmental and social performance.
  • Regulatory framework: Unlike Europe, which has implemented the CSRD (Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive), the region lacks stringent regulations that mandate compliance with sustainability standards and does not provide a supportive regulatory framework for purpose-driven businesses.
  • Impact ecosystem: Unlike the robust startup ecosystem in the MENA region, there is no developed, structured impact ecosystem to advance discussions on sustainability from a business and investment perspective.

The Power of the B Corp Certification

Various standards are available to assist companies in measuring, improving, and disclosing their impact. B Corp certification is one such powerful tool that can offer numerous benefits for MENA companies on their impact journey.

Certified B Corporations, or B Corps, are businesses that meet high standards of social and environmental performance, transparency, and accountability. They are evaluated across five key areas: governance, workers, community, environment, and customers.

The B Corp Certification process is rigorous and holistic, varying in complexity based on the company’s size and nature. It begins with the B impact assessment and includes the documentation and validation of the company’s business model and operations. The process may also involve reviews of public complaints and site visits. To maintain their certification, companies must undergo verification every three years, ensuring they continue to meet B Lab’s stringent standards.

B Lab is the non-profit network building the B Corp movement to transform the global economy to benefit all people, communities and the planet.

The Impact Uplift of B Corps

The 2023 B Lab Global Annual Report reveals over 200,000 users of the B Impact Assessment tool and more than 8,000 certified B Corps worldwide. These companies are leading the way in:

  • Environmental Leadership, with  B Corps are 2.5 times more likely to adopt low carbon transportation and twice as likely to achieve Carbon Neutral status.
  • Governance and Accountability as they are 2.9 times more likely to publish impact reports and involve their boards in reviewing performance indicators.
  • Inclusive business practices, with managers 4.2 times more likely to have social or environmental responsibilities in their job descriptions.
  • Financially, they outperform ordinary businesses, demonstrating resilience and growth even during challenging times like the pandemic.

The MENA B Corp Movement

Recently we have witnessed a rise in the number of B Corps in the region. We count 9 B Corp certified companies in the UAE for instance, the highest number in the region. With recently the first climate tech startup, The Surpluss, reaching this recognized status. 

Mena Impact has been closely supporting The Surpluss in their certification process. By achieving the B Corp™ certification with an impressive score of 86.7, The Surpluss has demonstrated its commitment to ethical practices and a sustainable business model that not only generates revenue but also significantly benefits the environment and society.

Saudi Arabia has 4 B Corps, and the total in the MENA region is now 23 companies which joined the global community using business as a force for good. 

A Thriving and Sustainable Future

B Corp certification offers a powerful tool for MENA businesses to not only achieve individual sustainability goals but also contribute to a collective transformation of the region’s economic landscape. By embracing B Corp standards, companies can create a ripple effect, inspiring and influencing others to adopt responsible practices. This collective action has the potential to redefine what it means to do business in the MENA region, prioritizing not just profit but also the well-being of the environment and society.

Mena Impact: Your trusted Partner 

Mena Impact is at the forefront of building the B Corp movement in MENA. As a purpose-driven consultancy, academy, and think tank, we are dedicated to empowering organizations and individuals to create a lasting positive impact, aligned with the 17 Sustainable Development Goals.

We offer strategic guidance and expert support throughout the B Corp assessment and certification process, helping businesses balance purpose and profit. By joining the growing B Corp community in the MENA region, businesses can become a driving force for a more sustainable future for all.

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