Weekly Roundup: B Corps in California and India’s New Rickshaw

CA Companies Wait in Line to Become B- Corps

B-Corp law went into effect in California this week and a “a band of smiling millionaires, papers in hand, waiting to sign on the dotted line” stood outside the office of the CA Secretary of State, reports Alex Goodmark of GOOD.

Ventura-based Patagonia was the first of twelve companies to sign itself up as a B-Corp.  Considering that they played a critical role in lobbying for the bill, this move didn’t come as a surprise.  The other companies included DopeHut, Dharma Merchant Services, Give Something Back Office Supplies, Green Retirement Plans, Opticos Designs, Rimon Law, Scientific Certification Systems, Solar Works, Sun Light & Power, Terrassure Sustainable Land & Resource Development, and Thinkshift Communications.

Here’s what Yvon Chouinard, CEO of Patagonia had to say about B-Corps:

“Patagonia is trying to build a company that could last 100 years,” Chouinard said. “Benefit corporation legislation creates the legal framework to enable mission-driven companies like Patagonia to stay mission-driven through succession, capital raises and even changes in ownership.  – LA Times

The Economist described the executive of this “slow company” as such:

He likes to do things differently. Yvon Chouinard changed his favourite sport, mountaineering, by introducing reusable pitons (the metal spikes you bang into the rock face and attach a rope to). Climbers often used to leave pitons in the cliff, which is environmentally messy, another of Mr Chouinard’s peeves.

Patagonia is thus far the most high-profile company to sign onto this new piece of legislation.

Bloomberg reports though that there is another legal framework, The Flexible Purpose Corporation, which is providing some contrast and competition to B-Corp, arguing that it could offer the better solution.

A conversation with Jay Gilbert, co-founder of B Lab fillsi n the gaps on what distinguishes b corps from other businesses.  Here the radio interview here.


Delhi Auto Expo – The New Rickshaw Comes with Doors

This week Delhi held its annual auto expo and while SUVs were on display as well as high end luxury cars to entice an affluent middle class, there was also a different type of “car” that made it’s debut.  Actually, it’s not a car and nor is it vying for the competitive car market in India. Instead, it’s vying for the approximately five million auto-rickshaws that grace India’s roads. The price of the RE60 by Bajaj Auto is $2,750, about 20 percent higher than the cost of a traditional auto-rickshaw ($2,200).

So, what does it look and what is intended for?  NYTimes India Ink blog reports (click for image):

Executives say they have no plans to market it to average consumers. Instead, they are aiming for drivers of rickshaws, which are powered by motorcycle engines and operate as short-distance taxis in India. The RE60 offers features not found on current rickshaw models, including seat belts, doors and a hard top. It will have windows, although ones that fold out rather than roll down. Plus, it’ll get 82 miles per gallon — a necessity for rickshaw drivers crisscross widespread cities like Delhi everyday.

But a few complaints from the rickshaw drivers include, not just the higher price point, but also how hot cars tend to become in the summer months in Delhi.  One rickshaw driver told the NYTimes:

Suran Singh, 40, who has been driving a rickshaw for 26 years, said doors and a hard top would help keep out the cold during the winter, but would make him too hot in the scorching New Delhi summers.

“This is better to drive in hot weather because it’s cloth,” he said, pointing to the top of his green and yellow rickshaw. “In Delhi, it gets hot in the summer, and we’ll be sweating it out in a car.”

Coming months will tell if the RE60 can help rickshaw drivers escape the dust or not…

Weekend Reads:

Americans are more giving than we give ourselves credit for, according to TIME.

Think we don’t make anything anymore?  NYTimes suggests that in fact American manufacturing is back on the rise.

Social mobility in the US is not as easy as it seems, reports NYTimes.

BBC looks at the “warts and all” of the Gates Foundation.   Hear this 40 minute conversation/ essay on BBC iPlayer.

Fast Company profiles Kenyan company that is selling kilns to farmers that produce biochar – a sustainable fuel source and a key component of rich agricultural soil. #

SSIR looks at why are we an entrepreneurial generation and what made us choose this path.


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