Small to medium sized businesses (SMEs) are critical contributors to Melbourne’s economy, but are also highly vulnerable to acute shocks and chronic stresses.

We are proud to partner with B Lab Australia & New Zealand and leading universities in Melbourne on a new approach to help Melbourne’s SMEs gain a better understanding of their business risks and opportunities, including the type of business they want to become.

In September 2017 we ran a new program where participating SMEs were paired with high performing university students to undertake B Lab’s ‘B Impact Assessment.’ This assessment helps SMEs develop improved management plans and be better prepared for all types of challenges and opportunities in a world of rapid change.

Expressions of interest for the pilot project have now closed. We anticipate that this project will run again in early 2018, follow us on Twitter or watch this space for updates. 

Resilient Melbourne is a proud participant in the global ‘100 Resilient Cities’ movement, pioneered by the Rockefeller Foundation. The initiative is led by the 32 councils that make up metropolitan Melbourne, in partnership with the Victorian Government and a range of private and not-for-profit organisations. As part of this collaboration, Resilient Melbourne invited  local SMEs to participate in an innovative pilot project. The pilot project is an action of the Resilient Melbourne Strategy, which was released in May 2016.

B Corporations are an emerging group of important companies that are using the power of business to create a positive impact in the community and generate greater shared value.

Based on learnings from the pilot project, we intend to scale the project in 2018. Participating SMEs will again have access to high performing university students who will undertake a resilience assessment using the B Corporation ‘B Impact Assessment’, a free online assessment tool.

You will receive help to navigate the free online assessment tool and identify areas for business improvement. Students will also ask you to reflect on the type of company you want to build over time. The ultimate objective is to help your business develop an improved management plan and be better prepared for all types of adversity and opportunities in a world of rapid change.

For more information about the B Corporation movement in Australia, visit http://bcorporation.com.au/

Additional context
Resilient Melbourne is an initiative led by the 32 councils that make up metropolitan Melbourne, in partnership with the Victorian Government and a range of private and not-for-profit organisations.

Further information about our work and additional context that may be valuable to you, including a summary of Innovative Business Models action in the first Resilient Melbourne strategy, can be found here.

Resilient Melbourne has three guiding principles:
1. to build on existing structures
2. to reduce duplication of effort
3. to achieve tangible benefits for our communities today.

Expressions of interest for the pilot project have now closed. We anticipate that this project will run again in early 2018. 

Information for SMEs


Who in my company should help complete the B Impact Assessment?

A senior representative who has high visibility of the overall operations of the business and access to necessary documents (e.g. CEO, CFO, business owner, director).

Depending on the size and complexity of your business, the senior representative may need the support of others from within the organisation (e.g. to help gather necessary information prior to conducting the B Impact Assessment).

How much will this cost me?

The B Impact Assessment is a free online public service provided by B Lab, a non-profit organisation. The assessment will be completed with the support of a high performing Monash University student (who is in their final year of study), or an MBA student from the Victoria University Graduate School of Business.

Your business will be required to provide a small stipend of $50 to cover the student’s travel costs and food (where relevant).

The only other cost is the time spent with the student to complete the B Impact Assessment at your place of business (2-5 hours, depending on the size and complexity of your business), and the time required to collect the necessary data and information to inform the assessment.

If your business is interested in becoming a fully certified B Corporation, you will incur an additional fee to verify company practices with an independent third party auditor. This amount varies based upon the size of your organisation. This step is outside the scope of this pilot project, however, more information is available by speaking with a B Lab staff member about the associated fees for becoming a certified B Corporation.

What will my business get out of it?

The online B Impact Assessment tool will generate a report of your business impact and recommendations for improvement. This report will be presented to you by the student. You will also be pointed in the direction of useful resources to help improve your business, its resilience and broader impact.

After completing the B Impact Assessment, you will be invited to share your experience from across all stages of the pilot. This will help shape the evolution of the Innovative Business Models action of the Resilient Melbourne Strategy.

The Resilient Melbourne team will also contact you within 12 months of completing the assessment to understand how your business has improved as a result of the assessment (e.g. have new operational procedures been implemented? Has your business completed the full B Corporation certification?) Resilient Melbourne will work with you to develop a participant case study to share your resilience journey, and ultimately inspire a movement of resilient businesses across metro Melbourne.

What is the scope and timeline?

The scope of the pilot project has been clearly defined and will be communicated in more detail to you by the student. You should not modify the agreed scope that has been outlined in the Project Scope Agreement.

SMEs will be recruited by late-August. Students will join you onsite in September to help you complete the B Impact Assessment.

Please identify any potential constraints your business may have prior to beginning the assessment in order to gain the most value during the project and to ensure it can be completed within a reasonable time frame.

What will I need to provide to help complete the B Impact Assessment?

Your student will provide an outline of the information required to complete the B Impact Assessment before they visit you. For example:

  • your company’s financials – it may be helpful to have either a ‘profit & loss’ statement or your accounting software system open
    a vendor ledger with the amount spent over the past 12 months – this will help you answer many questions related to suppliers
  • a product bill of materials or client/project list from the past 12 months – this may help answer many questions in the “Impact Business Models” section
  • Water and energy bills.

All information is treated confidentially by Resilient Melbourne, Monash University, the Victoria Graduate School of Business and B Lab Australia and New Zealand and will not to be shared publicly or with third parties.

Your student will advise you of the best approach if you are unable to provide an answer while completing the assessment. For convenience, the assessment can be saved and revisited at any time.

If answers are unknown, we encourage either estimating or marking questions ‘To revisit this’. Answers are saved as they are completed and can always be modified when more accurate information becomes available.

The online assessment also provides definitions and examples for each question.

How long does the B Impact Assessment take?

For most businesses, the assessment itself normally takes between 2-5 hours to complete in order to obtain a rough baseline. The variation in time involved largely depends on the size and complexity of your company.

For convenience, the assessment can be saved and revisited at any time.

The questions generated are tailored to the size (number of employees) and type (sector) of business when you register your company for the B Impact Assessment. It is important to indicate the appropriate number of employees when you register your company, so that the most appropriate assessment is provided. Your student will assist you with this.

What happens if I’m not selected to participate in the pilot project?

This is a pilot project that we intend to scale up across metropolitan Melbourne to include more universities, councils and SMEs. If you are unsuccessful in being selected to participate in this round, please indicate on the EOI form if you would like to be contacted about future rounds in 2018.

Who develops the standards behind the B Impact Assessment?

The standards are created and revised by the Standards Advisory Council (SAC), a group of independent experts in business and academia. Although the SAC creates the standards, they invite all interested persons to provide feedback on the standards.

The assessment also goes through a private and public beta period where feedback is collected and integrated into final versions. Expert working groups are convened to explore specific issues in an objective manner. The assessment is updated every two years to accommodate new and innovative practices, respond to the feedback of its users, and to more accurately assess the impact of all types of businesses.

More information is available at http://bcorporation.com.au

What’s the connection between Resilient Melbourne and the B Impact Assessment? 

SMEs are critical contributors to our economy but are also highly vulnerable to shocks and stresses. To help Melbourne’s SMEs understand and respond to their greatest business challenges and vulnerabilities, Resilient Melbourne is working with B Lab Australia & New Zealand and leading universities in Melbourne to help SMEs undertake B Lab’s ‘B Impact Assessment’.

B Lab oversees the global B Corporations movement, working with businesses that commit to placing positive impact at the core of their operating models. The pilot project will highlight to businesses how they can contribute to greater social and environmental outcomes, while also increasing their capability to continue to operate in the face of adversity and bounce back more effectively after an external shock.

As a first step, Resilient Melbourne has partnered with Monash University and the Victoria Graduate School of Business to pilot the initiative with local SMEs via council networks.

We are also currently in discussions with several other university business schools about embedding the model into existing curriculum, based on lessons from the pilot project.

This action of the Resilient Melbourne Strategy has been well-received by all partners involved thanks to its multiple benefits; not only are businesses expected to find value in participating, but students will receive useful work experience, gain an understanding of the innovative B Corporation model and have the opportunity to connect directly with their local business communities. In addition, local councils will be able to help improve the resilience of their local SMEs and strengthen their relationship with the university sector.

Once Resilient Melbourne has finished facilitating the completion of the pilot project, it will conduct an evaluation to assess success and determine an approach for scaling up the program across other universities, councils and SMEs across Melbourne.

More information is available at:

www.bcorporation.com.au

  • Connector.

    Australian B Corporations

    182 ‘B Corporations’ in Australia contribute to over $1billion in annual revenue to the national economy and employ more than 4,000 people.

  • Connector.

    Victorian B Corporations

    96 ‘B Corporations’ in Victoria with a collective annual turnover of over $275+ million, employ over 1,000 people.

  • Connector.

    Snapshot of certified companies

    Of the certified ‘B corporations’ in Australia, 50% are professional services, 20% are consumer goods, 15% are financial services and 15% are other services



Information for students

Students

Read the Student Handbook

What’s the connection between Resilient Melbourne and the B Impact Assessment?

Small to medium-sized businesses (SMEs) are valuable contributors to our economy but are also highly vulnerable to shocks and stresses. To help Melbourne’s SMEs understand and respond to their greatest business challenges and vulnerabilities, Resilient Melbourne is working with B Lab Australia & New Zealand and leading universities in Melbourne to help SMEs undertake B Lab’s ‘B Impact Assessment.’

B Lab oversees the global B Corporations movement, working with businesses that commit to placing positive impact at the core of their operating models. The pilot project will highlight to businesses how they can contribute to greater social and environmental outcomes while also increasing their capability to continue to operate in the face of adversity and bounce back more effectively after an external shock.

As a first step, Resilient Melbourne has partnered with Monash University and the Victoria Graduate School of Business to pilot the initiative with local SMEs via council networks.

We are also currently in discussions with other university business schools about embedding the model into existing curriculum, based on lessons from the pilot project.

This action of the Resilient Melbourne Strategy has been well-received by all partners involved, thanks to its multiple benefits; not only are businesses expected to find value in participating, but students will receive useful work experience, gain an understanding of the innovative B Corporation model and have the opportunity to connect directly with their local business communities. In addition, local councils will be able to help improve the resilience of their local SMEs and strengthen their relationship with the university sector.

Once the pilot project is complete, Resilient Melbourne will conduct an evaluation to assess success and determine an approach for scaling up the program across other universities, councils and SMEs in Melbourne.

More information is available at:

www.bcorporation.com.au

Who in the company should help complete the B Impact Assessment?

Preferably, a senior representative who has a high visibility of the overall operations of the business and access to necessary documents (e.g. CEO, CFO, director, business owner). Depending on the size and complexity of the business, the senior representative may need the support of others from within the organisation (e.g. to help gather necessary information prior to conducting the B Impact Assessment).

How much will this cost the business?  

The B Impact Assessment is a free online public service provided by B Lab, a non-profit organisation. The assessment will be completed with the support of a student from either Monash University or the Victoria Graduate School of Business.

A small stipend of $50 is to be provided by the business to the student to cover travel costs and food (where relevant).

The only other cost is the time spent with the student to complete the assessment, and time required to collect the necessary information.

If a business is interested in becoming a fully certified B Corporation, there is a cost involved in the process used to verify company practices with an independent third party auditor. This amount varies based upon the size of your organisation. This is outside the scope of this pilot project, however more information is available by speaking with a B Lab staff member about the associated fees for becoming a certified B Corporation.

What formal paperwork is required?

Ask your business to complete and sign a standard Internship Agreement prior to being onsite. There will also be a project scope agreement / confidentiality agreement signed between you, as the student, and the business.

What will the business need to provide to help complete the B Impact Assessment?  

This will be covered in detail at the student masterclass.

You will need to provide an outline of the necessary information required to complete the assessment before you visit the business.

All information is to be treated confidentially by you, Resilient Melbourne, Monash University, the Victoria Graduate School of Business, and B Lab, and is not to be shared publicly or with third parties.

You will advise the business of the best approach if they are unable to provide an answer while completing the assessment. For convenience, the assessment can be saved and revisited at any time. If answers are unknown, it is encouraged to estimate answers the first time through or mark questions as ‘revisit this’. Questions can always be revisited when saving progress and exiting, to be returned to later when more information becomes available. If you identify that there is a lack of information readily available, this may also become a potential recommendation.

The online B Impact Assessment provides definitions and examples for each question.

How long does the B Impact Assessment take?

For most businesses, the B Impact Assessment itself normally takes between 2-5 hours to complete a rough baseline. The time involved largely depends on the size and complexity of the business.

For convenience, the assessment can be saved and revisited at anytime. If answers are unknown, it is encouraged to estimate answers the first time through or mark questions as ‘revisit this’. Questions can always be revisited when saving progress and exiting, to be returned to later when more information becomes available.

The questions generated are tailored to the size (number of employees) and type (sector) of business when registering the company for the B Impact Assessment. It is important to indicate the appropriate number of employees at this time, so that the most appropriate assessment template is generated, so make sure you remind the business of this when you begin the assessment.

What are the next steps after completing the B Impact Assessment?

After completing the B Impact Assessment, you will be invited to share your experience across all stages of the pilot—from the masterclass and engagement with SMEs, through to the assessment and presentation of your final report. This will not only help shape the development of future initiatives using the B Impact Assessment, but will also help shape the evolution of the Innovative Business Models action of the Resilient Melbourne Strategy.

Who develops the standards behind the B Impact Assessment?

The standards are created and revised by the Standards Advisory Council (SAC), a group of independent experts in business and academia. Although the SAC creates the standards, they invite all interested persons to provide feedback on the standards.

The assessment also goes through a private and public beta period in which feedback is collected and integrated into final versions. Expert working groups are convened to explore our specific issues more closely in an objective manner. The assessment is updated every two years to accommodate new and innovative practices, respond to the feedback of its users, and to more accurately assess the impact of all types of businesses.

More information is available at http://bcorporation.com.au


Contact us

If you require further information or have any questions about the pilot program, please contact Shane Gladigau via email shane.gladigau@delwp.vic.gov.au or call 03 9948 8565 or 0425 724 822.

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