B corporations: Fostering opportunities for women and youth in Latin America
During the 2000s, economic growth coupled with increased social investment reduced poverty and increased labour market opportunities in Latin America. However, some groups, in particular women and youth, were left behind — and the small gains they have made are in danger of being reversed by the current slowdown in growth.
The emergence of inclusive business models, or “purpose enterprises”, through which enterprises advance business objectives and development goals simultaneously, provide an opportunity to sustain the progress in Latin America. One example is the Certified B Corporation, a new type of enterprise that integrates social, environmental, and economic objectives within the core purpose of its business. In Latin America, almost 300 enterprises are certified as B Corporations, generating more than 20,000 quality jobs. This still represents a small fraction of business activity in the region. However, B corporations are expanding fast, and they may have a broader impact by motivating large companies to promote social and economic inclusion.
For this three-year project IDRC will partner with Fundación Impulsora de un Nuevo Sector en la Economía Sistema B (Sistema B), a regional organization currently present in 10 countries, to help promote a favorable ecosystem for the expansion of inclusive business. Sistema B works with enterprises, trade unions, researchers, foundations, and civil society to create alliances towards sustainable and inclusive development. The project will assess the impact of B corporations on economic opportunities for women and youth. It will support a platform to advance a research agenda on inclusive businesses, on the potential of B Corporations to contribute to social and economic inclusion, and on women’s leadership in B corporations. The project will produce teaching notes to incorporate inclusive business in university courses, as well as research papers, a book synthesizing key research findings, and practical tools targeted to B Corporations to enhance their social impact