Women Fueling Business As a Force For Good

11/02/2016 01:18 pm ET
B Lab

By: Shamini Dhana

An exciting venture called the Force for Good Accelerator / Fund recently launched this Fall 2016. The project is all about combining the two most understated and undervalued assets in our community to fuel business as a force for good: 1. women-lead businesses, and 2. conscious consumers.

As ​conscious consumers looking to make more of a footprint in the world we live, influencing the way we interact, purchase, decide and being role models for our kids and future leaders of tomorrow, this venture seemed aligned with the values that shape us.

I spoke to Ryan Honeyman, co-founder of Force For Good Accelerator / Fund and learned more about this amazing opportunity for all women looking to close the ​gender investment gap. You’ll be sure to share this opportunity and grateful for a time when the world is looking to business as a force for good, a.k.a “Triple Bottom Line companies honoring and valuing both stakeholders and shareholders.”

Shamini Dhana: What a great time to be a woman led business driving change for the good of the world, don’t you think, Ryan?

Ryan Honeyman: Absolutely. We desperately need more women-led, mission-driven companies that are using the power of business as a force for good.

SD: Why do you think this model is so timely for today’s conscious consumer?

RH: Because having more women and people of color in charge creates a more resilient, dynamic, and mutually beneficial economy. Yvon Chouinard, the Founder of ​Patagonia, once said that “nature loves diversity.” I think the same concept applies to business. An economy led by all white men is not dynamic or resilient. It’s dangerous (as evidenced by the recent financial collapse). Having more women and people of color in charge (who can bring diverse opinions, experiences, and skill sets) is better for the companies they run and the economic system as a whole.

SD: What is the minimum criteria and investment amount for anyone to invest in the Force For Good Fund?

RH: The Force for Good Fund is the first crowdfunded accelerator for women and people of color-owned, high-impact, “Best for the World” B Corporations (i.e., companies that score in the top 10% of B Corps worldwide).

Since it is crowdfunded, anyone can invest for as little as $1,000. We have already raised ~$225k from 75 investors over the last few weeks. More details can be found on our crowdfunding page: www.wefunder.com/forceforgood.

SD: How will you determine the right fit for investing in a company using this fund?

RH: At a minimum, at least 51% of all companies accepted into our program must be owned/managed by women. Similarly, at least 51% of all companies accelerated must be owned/managed by people of color. Note that these are both minimum requirements, not the maximum.

In addition, preference will be given to companies that meet the following characteristics:

  • Companies whose business model is specifically designed to mitigate and reduce the effects of climate change (e.g., regenerative agriculture, carbon sequestration, alternative energy, eco-literacy, etc.)
  • Companies that can become models for the development of local living economies supporting regional self reliance. Models, in this context, means companies that provide needed goods and/or services whose practices and methods could be regionally replicated and adapted.
  • Companies that prioritize worker ownership or worker inclusion in decision making.

SD: Is there a an opportunity for investors in the Force For Good Fund to interact with the portfolio companies of this fund, and how?

RH: Yes — we are planning on hosting “meet and greet” days between investors and accelerated companies. We also will be looking for advisors and ​mentors for investees. Folks can stay up to date on our progress by signing up to our monthly newsletter.

SD: Do you see any synergy between ​Ellevate Network Members and your project?

RH: Definitely. First, ​Ellevate is a Certified B Corporation. We both seek to be the change we wish to see in the world. Second, ​the mission of Ellevate and the Force for Good Fund are very similar. For example, Ellevate believes in helping women advance in the workplace, both for themselves and the greater good. The Force for Good Fund focuses on the same thing: we need more women in leadership positions, not just for their own benefit, but because society desperately needs women to fix our broken economic system.

SD: What advice would you give to folks looking to “invest” in women and the future of business as it relates to this unique opportunity?

RH: We would love to have Ellevate members participate in this exciting project. Since the project is crowdfunded, anyone can invest for as little as $1,000. You’ll need to act quickly — our crowdfunding campaign expires on November 7. Check out www.wefunder.com/forceforgood to learn more.

In addition, anyone can email me at ryan@lifteconomy.com with any questions, comments, or concerns.

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Ryan Honeyman is a Partner at LIFT Economy and author of The B Corp Handbook: How to Use Business as a Force for Good (Berrett-Koehler Publishers). LIFT Economy is an impact consulting firm whose mission is to create, model, and share a locally self-reliant economy that works for the benefit of all life. You can follow Ryan on Twitter @honeymanconsult or email him ryan@lifteconomy.com.

Shamini Dhana is founder and CEO of Dhana, Inc., a Certified B Corporation and ethical fashion brand committed to connect people and our planet through the medium of fashion. Shamini is a leader in sustainable apparel, and Dhana, Inc. adopts fair trade, ethical, and sustainable principles throughout its supply chain. She brings to the eco-fashion world over 20 years of corporate executive experience, and is a Climate Ride Ambassador and an Associate Producer of The True Cost movie.

Ellevate Network is a global women’s network: the essential resource for professional women who create, inspire and lead. Together, we #InvestInWomen.

Photo: B Lab

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