Capitalism Reimagined | April 17, 2024

Impact CEOs are navigating macro uncertainty with purpose

Dennis Price
ImpactAlpha Editor

Dennis Price

Purpose, it turns out, is durable. 

CEOs of Seventh Generation, Vital Farms and other purpose-driven companies who gathered at Big Path Capital’s annual MO Summit in Austin agreed that building solutions that do right by people and planet has helped them weather recent economic disruptions.

The tailwinds: The durability of big macro trends toward sustainability, health and wellness, and inclusion continue to drive demand. The headwinds: Higher interest rates and a backlash to progress on climate and inequality have investors and consumers on edge.

“We’re in this moment of real transition and uncertainty,” said Jorge Fontanez who heads B Lab US and Canada. Registered B Corps have doubled over the last three years to more than 8,500.

“Embrace the ambiguity of the moment,” Fontanez said, counseling CEOs and investors to find energy in the movement’s “culture of building businesses where everyone benefits.”

Impact CEOs

with the top ‘Force for Good’ score, Scott Jacobs of green infrastructure financier Generate Capital led this year’s MO100 Impact Rankings, celebrated in Austin on Tuesday. Big Path ranks companies that apply by the product of their most recent year’s revenues multiplied by their one-year growth rate times their B Impact Assessment. 

Jacobs swapped spots this year with Steve McDougal of carbon-offset company 3Degrees, which fell to second place. Russell Diez-Canseco of Austin-based Vital Farms landed at third for the second year in a row. 

Also on the list: Melanie Dulbecco of San Leandro-based Torani Syrups & Flavors, Tom Matzzie of Washington DC-based CleanChoice Energy and Kristin Carroll of Rescue agency in San Diego. 

Doubling down

In Canada, Mike Rowlands said the The Purpose Economy Project is working with legislation, business schools curricula and boards of directors to nudge a quarter of all Canadian business to embed a social purpose by 2030. 

By disrupting the extractive payday loan market, Impact America Fund-backed fintech Solo Funds is profitable and doing twice the revenue than the capital it has raised. After Covid-era disruptions, more mature B Corps Seventh Generation and Dyper are stabilizing. 

“We’re at a critical junction,” said UT McCombs’s Meeta Kothare, who warned impact investors and CEOs against complacency. “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win,” Kothare said, citing the quote often misattributed to Mahatma Gandhi.

“We’re in that fight stage,” said Kothare. Progress is still fragile, she said, and “becoming more fragile as we get more recognition.”