Offsite 2021: The Ascent of a Mountain
Only ten Quebec businesses can claim to be certified B-Corps. This movement is attracting more and more attention with nearly 2000 certified companies in 50 countries. Prana, a dried fruit and healthy snacks bio certified processing company is among them.
When they started Prana in 2005, Marie-Josée Richer and her husband Alon Farber were guided by a genuine desire to emplement actions in thier company, that were aligned with their values.
Their desire was to embrace sustainability, integrity and transparency while seeking a positive impact on the environment and their community were and are still important priorities.
Prana ultimately wanted to develop a business model as an extension of its food offer. An investor told them about the B-Corp certification and that is when they started being more interested. The certification seemed like a good alternative to grow without altering their values and to excel socially and environmentally.
Prana finally became a certified B-Corp in 2015. Making the jump was for them a way to take concrete measures.
« We already were in this spirit so it wasn’t a big step for us. We made it possible by giving ourselves the resources and budget to do so.
They rapidly created a committee whose mission was to focus on how to add stakeholder value for everyone in their business. From the providers to the consumers and even the producers, the goal was to understand the challenges and make decisions that will have a positive and lasting impact for all. They’re in the process of analyzing the company’s organizational life cycle with a firm called Ellio.
« We want to identify where are the gaps in our environmental practices and where we will have the most impact. We don’t want to make blind decisions.
They also want to develop a wellness program for their employees. For example, a volunteer program will be implemented shortly and after six years, employees may be able to take a year off without jeopardizing their employment.
Transparency is an important value at Prana. They actually practice open book management. They share financial information and different strategies with all employees every quarter. Marie-Josée firmly believes that the best way to operate a business is to make everyone understand how the business works so that they can fully participate and be heard.
A profit sharing program for employees will also be implemented in 2017.
All these changes have been very well received by the 70 employees at Prana.
« We have a progressive mindset, they are attracted by these values and want to excel in order to bring Prana to another level. They feel personally and professionally involved.
These finding gives her confidence in the new generation and those to come. To further empower employees and to involve them in the various decisions of the company, several committees have been set up. This way, everyone feels like Prana is their business.
« We didn’t want the governance to go only by me, my spouse and the C.A. We want to share responsibility.
Marie-Josée Richer makes sure to inject enough money in this B-Corp vision. Without growth in the company, it is difficult to have a significant impact on consumer food choices and how we trade in this world. She firmly believes that there is a way to be a profitable corporate business working for a better world.
Her mission is also to inspire other companies to join this movement even though it can be intimidating.
« I think that's what differentiates us from world leaders. This is probably our advantage against Kraft and Coca-Cola that are unfortunately motivated only by profit per quarter.
Finally, the most important message is her conviction that working together can bring value to all and a company can prosper by being committed to social involvement and the environment.