Duo of Drexel Entrepreneurs Hope to Start B-Corp Revolution in Philadelphia
Maria Allison and Nicole Koedyker, co-founders of Forsei Consulting, are helping to create a new class of socially conscious entrepreneurs.
August 21, 2014
What do a skateboard company, a Web design firm and a skin care line have in common?
According to Maria Allison and Nicole Koedyker ’13, each of these organizations can become part of the B-Corp movement by committing their bottom lines to more than just profit.
It’s about people and planet, too, they say. And it’s only a matter of time before the movement catches on.
Allison and Koedyker, co-founders of Forsei (read: For Social Economic Impact) — a consulting firm that helps businesses become more socially responsible — recently completed a six-month Close School Entrepreneurship Co-op and are passing on what they learned to students as teaching assistants in the Close School’s Social Entrepreneurship course. During the class, students are consulting with local businesses to help them become more socially conscious and environmentally friendly.
“The goal of class is that if the students go off and start their own startups, they have all of these tools and they know what to implement in their own businesses,” Koedyker says.
Along with Professor Damian Salas, Allison and Koedyker show students the ins and outs of the B-Corp assessment, which measures a company’s social good. The students then impart that knowledge to their partner companies, offering advice on how they can adhere to the B-Corp standards in five primary areas: governance, employees, community, environment and impact business models.
Enacted by Pennsylvania-based nonprofit B-Lab, the B-Corp certification process — which does for businesses what LEED certification does for buildings — was designed to measure the public benefit of a company’s social and environmental impact. A company can secure B-Corp certification by scoring 80 out of 200 on a rigorous evaluation.
“As we teach the students in class and answer any questions, behind the scenes they’re meeting with their client once a week to go through that section of the impact assessment with them,” Koedyker says,
The students in the Social Entrepreneurship class are as diverse as the companies they’re working with.
“There are engineers, marketing majors, computer science. It’s a pretty good spread,” she says.
A Campaign for New B’s.
As for Allison and Koedyker, they are already at the forefront of Philly’s burgeoning frontier of companies committed to social good. To that end, they have assembled a group of local businesses and likeminded thought leaders into a group that meets regularly to raise awareness for the B-Corp cause.
They call their cabal “The Collective.”
“We get people together, encourage cross-pollination of services, increase consumer education and awareness, and provide support for the community in general,” Allison says.
Held on the third Wednesday of each month, the fast-growing gatherings of Philadelphia-based businesses are already making a name for themselves.
“They’re going really well,” Koedyker says. “They get traction, and we hear about it. The parties just get bigger and bigger.”
The Forsei co-founders are already lined up to help teach another section of Social Entrepreneurship during the fall term. In fact, they recruited their fellow Baiada Institute company, Spor, to participate.
Allison and Koedyker aren’t stopping any time soon. Their “Campaign for New B’s” is dedicated to raising awareness of the benefits of being a B-Corp. In fact, they have their sights set on making Philadelphia an unparalleled hub of social entrepreneurship.
“We want to be better than San Francisco,” says Koedyker.