Latin American businesses are demonstrating a hybrid approach to sustainability, with a genuinely distinctive “Latin” model increasingly likely

B Corporation is creating something of a storm in North America. That’s no great surprise. The holistic “good business” certification scheme taps into the zeitgeist. Customers and employees are increasingly looking for companies with a “purpose” that lies beyond mere profit. And, in the US especially, there’s an ever-expanding coterie of dynamic, mostly young social entrepreneurs to give them what they want.

What is surprising is how fast the same scheme is taking off in Latin America. Launched in early 2012 under the brand “Sistema B”, the movement already counts 64 certified firms. An additional 160 or so are undergoing evaluation. In a continent where employment problems (around half the labour force is employed informally) and poverty remain big issues, the drivers for sustainable business might seem weak.

So why the success, and what does it reveal about the field of sustainable business practices in Latin America?

Multiple players

First and foremost, sustainable business is not new. It may not have been branded as “sustainability” until recently, but the notion of businesses having a broader social mandate has a long heritage. Even without consumer or labour market pressure, therefore, ideas of business ethics and philanthropy chime with regional business leaders.

So the shift to...

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Latin America  Oliver Balch  South America corporate responsibility  sustainability  sustainable business 

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