BUSINESS
01/27/2016 01:21 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Pedal Forward: A New B Corp

For those of you who haven't heard, there's a new kind of corporation in town. The B Corp is to business what Fair Trade certification is to coffee or USDA Organic certification is to milk. B Corps are for-profit companies certified by the nonprofit B Lab to meet rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency. Today, there is a growing community of more than 1,400 Certified B Corps from 42 countries and over 120 industries working together toward 1 unifying goal: to redefine success in business.

These for profit, socially conscious business models are gaining traction as younger generations look to their community impact as a more decisive factor in career direction. New generations want to see their contribution in the world. If a company hopes to recruit the best, they need to offer the best work experience. The demand has driven the government to establish a new class of corporation, the Benefit Corporation (B Corp), to encourage this kind of profit structure. "A B Corp is a for profit corporation which is certified by the non-profit B Lab to meet rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency." Other well known B Corps include Patagonia, Ben and Jerry's and Method.

Pedal Forward is one such corporation. It began as the brainchild of 2 college friends, Matt Wilkins and Chris Deschenes. They wanted to build a product that was about the how and why. In thinking about the full life cycle of not just material, but also of the labor and production, they developed a plan to sell bamboo bikes, employ formerly homeless, and support transportation efforts in the global community. Pedal Forward manufactures sleek and sustainable bamboo bikes; they hire resident members of Back on My Feet NYC to build the bikes, then use 10% of the proceeds from each bike sale to distribute bikes in developing nations. Matt and Chris were the winners of the 2012 Clinton Global Initiative University Commitment Challenge for their work, and last May were recognized by The White House as Global Emerging Entrepreneurs.

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"When we look at global communities, we don't just want to be exporting labor and materials, we want to reinvest in local economies, and share our passion for getting around the best way possible - via bike!" said CMO, Chris Deschenes. With over 70% of the world's poor lack basic transportation to get from A to B, they are unable to reach vital services, goods and opportunities. Adding a bike is a means of transportation and acts as a huge stimulus to struggling communities.

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Pedal Forward is currently in the midst of an exciting Kickstarter campaign. Metro NYC, local radio channels, Twitter, and the blogosphere have been following their progress online, where they are moving steadily towards their $40k goal, with every small and large donation. So, join the movement and 'enjoy the ride!'

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