Our Path to Bcorp: Leading the Sustainability Transformation with Purpose

By Isabelle de Wolf, Sustainable Business Officer

When we founded Helloprint, our mission was to disrupt an old-school industry by making ordering print easier for everyone and everywhere. By using technology and data at the heart, we created the leading marketplace for customized print products in Europe.  Now, after almost ten years of leading technological innovation, it is time for us to disrupt again. But this time, in a different way: leading the print industry through a sustainable transformation.

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Let’s be honest: the print industry has fundamental challenges around using natural resources, pollution and waste generation. As a leading platform with almost 300 connected manufacturers and over 600.000 orders a year, we are conscious of that. We believe that change in our market is needed and that with the right intentions, knowledge and technologies, this change can happen. At Helloprint, we’re determined to lead this transition. 

Combined with our ambitions on social and governmental impact, we decided that it’s time to put our money where our mouth is and to have the ambition to become a certified BCorp organization within the next year.

What is a B Corporation, and why are they important?

B Corp is an initiative of B Lab,  a social enterprise that aims to build and steer a global movement for change in economic systems. Born from the belief that the business world needed a drastic change, this association aims to transform businesses into a force for good that addresses social and environmental issues. B Lab also pushes for a different perspective on how companies work; instead of solely evolving around shareholder primacy, it must consider a multi-stakeholder approach

The B Lab organization developed the B Corp certification to create collective action to address today’s most critical challenges by establishing standards, policies, tools, and programs that shift the behavior, culture, and structure. According to B Corp standards, “the certification is a designation that a business is meeting high standards of verified performance, accountability, and transparency on factors from employee benefits and charitable giving to supply chain practices and used materials.” 

The social enterprise measures a company’s performance based on its B Impact Assessment to obtain the B Corp certification. To become certified, companies must 

– Reach at least 80/150 points on the B Impact Assessment;

– Legally commit to changing their corporate governance structure so that all stakeholders are accountable, not just primary shareholders and;

– Make their B Corp profile publicly available on B Lab’s website, where information regarding their performance is shown transparently.

B Corp Certification: What does it mean for HelloPrint?

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On our road to becoming the most sustainable marketplace for customized printed products, we at HelloPrint are delighted to announce that our first step in that direction is becoming a B Corporation. Until now, the framework of B Corp has allowed us to understand where we stand as an organization on a social, environmental, and governance (ESG) level and to identify improvement opportunities within these areas.

HelloPrint’s transition to a sustainable company is not going to happen overnight. However, our journey has allowed us to change our mindset and approach at the company and employee levels, switching our focus to making HelloPrint more sustainable. We believe that taking this next step to obtain the B Corp Certification will bring us closer to our mission and add a higher level of credibility to what we do and why we do it. 

Another aspect to consider in this stage of our journey is the transparency we will convey to our partners and customers. The B Corp Certification will require us to be even more transparent about the different facets of our business. It will force us to improve our social and environmental performance continuously. To achieve these goals successfully, we are collaborating with Rainbow Collection, an impact agency that supports companies on their journey to becoming B Corp certified. 

It has been a joy so far to be working with HelloPrint on their certification journey. Using the guidelines of B Corp, we have been able to transform their motivation for sustainability into practical implementation.  Thijs Hoogenstrijd, Sustainability Strategist at Rainbow Collection.

Our journey to becoming a B Corporation

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Daniel Truran, B Corp Ambassador at B Lab Europe during our INSPIRE 2022 Festival.

Last summer, Helloprint officially changed its corporate structure to ensure and consider all its stakeholders — customers, workers, suppliers, communities, investors, and the environment — when it comes to decision-making. 

Integrating stakeholder governance into our company’s articles of association ensures that we stay legally responsible for a broad purpose and a commitment to consider the interests of all stakeholders. By doing so, we make sure that we, as a company, are committed and accountable to creating lasting value for all stakeholders and credibly using our business as a force for good. 

During the INSPIRE2022 festival last September, Daniel Truran, B Corp Ambassador in Europe, encouraged us to be curious, find our purpose, and understand our role on earth. After years of leading technological innovation in the print industry, we want to take it to the next level and collaborate with our extensive network to drive sustainable development. We believe that it all starts with changing how we do our business to inspire others to do the same. And we think that the B Corp framework allows us to take the initial steps to lead this transformation. 

At HelloPrint’s festival, I witnessed firsthand the spirit and ambition of the people of this company. The culture, the focus, and the business model of the organization all point to an authentic desire motivated by impact.  Daniel Truran, B Corp Ambassador at B Lab Europe

Next Steps at Helloprint

In addition to the transparency and commitment that comes with the B Corp certification, being accredited would allow us to join a wonderful club of purpose-driven companies. Some B Corporations are here to inherently “do good” and benefit the world, whereas some others have used the B Corp framework to positively and proactively change their business model and perspective. 

We know that the print industry has fundamental challenges around using natural resources, pollution, and waste generation. That’s why starting the process for the B Corp certification is even more valuable; we get to challenge both our organization and the industry on how we conduct our business. For us, becoming B Corp certified means finding validation in the processes and frameworks we establish to move ourselves and the print industry further along the road to sustainability. 

The B Corp certification is a crucial step within our journey, but it isn’t our end goal. Instead, we see it as the first step towards sustainable development within our value chain. In the end, with our unique business model, we thrive for an industry that becomes viable on all three levels: socially, environmentally, and economically – and is beneficial to multiple stakeholders. 

So far, the B Corp journey has been eye-opening, rewarding, and challenging. We look forward to busy months of hard work and preparation for our B Corp Audit, which will most likely take place during the first quarter of 2023. 

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