Benefit Corporation vs. B Corporation
In 2019, the Maine Legislature passed and Governor Janet T. Mills signed the 2019 P.L. Ch. 328, which authorizes the formation of Benefit Corporations, joining 35 other states that have done the same.
This allows for-profit businesses to become Benefit Corporations, proving they have a purpose beyond economic profit, and will create a positive impact on society and the environment.
We worked directly with Helen Sterling Coburn, Shareholder and securities expert from Bernstein Shur on this process. Helen was recently part of the Shur Cast podcast “Benefit Corporations: Profit and Purpose” alongside Tory Ryden and special guest Tara Jenkins, founder of Conscious Revolution LLC, a company that “helps businesses do well by doing good.”
We recommend this podcast as a starting point since it “dives into the details and potential of Benefit Corporations, which employ a new-to-Maine legal structure to align public benefit and sustainable value with accountability and transparency.”
A Maine business can be a Benefit Corporation, a B Corp, or both. iBec Creative is going for the latter.
How we became a Benefit Corporation
An existing business (i.e., organized under Title 13-C of the Maine Revised Statutes) can amend its articles to become a Benefit Corporation through several specific requirements – pulled directly from this Maine Association of Nonprofits blog that summarizes it well:
- The Articles of Incorporation must have a general purpose of creating either general public benefit (a material positive impact on society or the environment) or a specific public benefit such as serving low-income communities, improving human health, or protecting the environment, among others.
- Directors and officers must consider the effects of any corporate action or inaction according to a variety of factors, including the shareholders, employees, customers, the local and global environment, and community and societal implications.
- A Benefit Corporation must produce and make available on its website or upon request by any member of the public an Annual Benefit Report, which must include a compliance statement by an independent benefit director. For small enterprises, these reporting requirements may be more onerous than for a small nonprofit.
- Any director and any group of shareholders owning at least 2% of the total shares can bring a benefit enforcement proceeding, which is a lawsuit claiming that the Benefit Corporation has failed to pursue or create general public benefit or a specific public benefit purpose set forth in its articles.
Helen helped us pull this all together, and we’re happy to share our declared Articles of Incorporation iBec Creative purpose in print with all of you:
Without limiting the foregoing, the Corporation shall also have the specific purpose of helping businesses and the people behind them thrive online.
And here’s our B Corp Application status
We’re still awaiting to be assigned an assessor to finish up the certification process, and we’re not alone in the waiting line.
The B Impact Assessment team recently sent out an update saying that before 2020, there were 4,000 Certified B Corps. Right now, they have 4,000 new applications – essentially doubling the interest in this B Corp Certification process halfway through the year.
We, like so many other companies, are thrilled this movement is taking off. It’s exciting to see more companies putting pen to paper to show the good work we’re all doing.
While we’re eagerly awaiting our second stamp of approval with the B Corp label, we’re so proud to be a Benefit Corporation ready to do more great things in Maine.