MAZE was created by the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation in 2013 with the mission to improve the lives of people and the planet. We work with the public sector and the private sector, with startups and large corporates and all our activities have a common denominator which is, and will always be, our lookout for a positive change Different activities and projects were put in place since our inception to fulfil our mission: such as the launch of the first Social Impact Bond in Portugal or the establishment of the first impact venture capital fund in Portugal. Our company’s DNA is deeply rooted into the notion of social and environmental impact and cannot be separated from it.
The B Corp movement was born in 2006 and, like MAZE, it was created to contribute to a positive change in the world. The B Corp Certification is a way for like-minded companies to connect through a thorough third-party assessment which verifies their impact in 5 dimensions: Governance, Workers, Community, Clients, and the Environment. If a minimum score is reached, you can officially become a B Corp and join the community. Today, there +4,000 B Corp companies from 77 different countries around the world, which consider their business as a force for good with the numbers growing every year. Some of the most notable companies that have received the B Corp certificate include Danone, Patagonia and Ben & Jerry’s.
For a company like MAZE, whose purpose is to create a positive change, there is a very close link to the B Corp movement but at the same time it may seem a redundant effort to apply for a lengthy certification which validates the very reason why exist. After a lengthy and meaningful internal discussion on whether we should invest the resources to apply for the certificate, we decided to go for it for three reasons:
- First, going beyond the impact of our ventures:
At MAZE, we accelerate and invest in solutions that deliver impactful outcomes. Our work and impact are closely linked to the impact of the startups and companies we support. Their impact is also our impact, and their success is our success.
Throughout the years, we have been focused on structuring how we manage our impact through the companies we support. We have developed a coherent structure to better collect data to validate our companies impact thesis and support our ventures to understand and manage their own impact. We developed our own framework, based on the Impact Management Project, and we applied it to every project within MAZE, which translated into MAZE’s first impact report.
However, the B Corp certification made us look to our impact from a different angle. Our impact goes beyond our ventures, as it is also the impact of our company and workers in the community, governance, and the environment. The assessment made us have a critical look into how we are serving our employees’ wellbeing, how MAZE is governed, how we are giving back to the community, for example through volunteering or donations, and our environmental footprint.
B-corp was an excellent way to complement our impact management strategy that is primarily focused on the tracking the direct and indirect impact we have in our portfolio of companies.
- Second, network of B Corp companies:
Another added value from the B Corp certification is a direct access to this valuable network of companies which have similar mindsets to MAZE. The B Corp movement is strong in connecting its members and belonging to an active and diverse community like this, fosters networking effects that can enhance the joint sustainable growth of the members the movement serves
- Third, support the movement:
Finally, MAZE has become a central player in the impact ecosystem in Portugal and in Europe. By becoming a B Corp, we are signalling partners and their audiences on the benefits of taking impact measurement seriously. We are already experiencing the effects on our community and partners, as some of them have approached us for counselling and advice on the certification. Today there are only 15 B Corp companies in Portugal, and we expect that this networking effects may contribute to the exponential growth of this number.
A look into the future
The B Corp movement is a great example of where companies should aim to go and develop towards. For us, the B Corp certification means a different look into the future of MAZE and strengthen the way we manage our impact. We intend to take the certification as a way to acknowledge our internal improvements areas and reinforce what we are already strong at.
We are very happy to be part of the B Corp movement and continue our path of being able improve the lives of people and the planet. We are looking forward to connecting with like-minded companies and be a force for good.