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Photo Journal: Andy goes to fiiS

Today’s post comes from Andy Fyfe of our Community Development team! Andy works with our West Coast B Corps and can be found at the Impact Hub when he’s not on the road. Want to feel like you were at fiiS with him? Check out his video diary from fiiS at the end of this post.

At our Champions Retreat this year, Juan Pablo from our Latin American partner Sistema B gave a talk to B Corps and the Burlington community as part of our B Inspired events. He motivated us all to open our creative minds toward expanding the B Corp conversation to wider audiences. He shared the story of fiiS (International Festival of Social Innovation), an event in Santiago, Chile that his team at Sistema B helps organize. It’s a way for the message of better business to travel far, be fun, sound great, make us dance, yet still stay true to the roots of our mission: creating a world of shared and durable prosperity for all. It also features many speakers from Empresas B (B Corps in Latin America).

Juan Pablo left the audience emotionally energized, galvanized, and encouraged to model in the U.S what they’ve created in Latin America. His reminder was timely—fiiS was set to take place only a few weeks after our Champions Retreat. As we left the theater, many of the B Corps, including Juan Pablo, approached me to see if I could go down to Chile and "scope the scene." I gladly accepted.

I love Chile. When I was in University, way way back, I studied the Chilean Economy with a focus on the impacts of neoliberalism and globalization and an independent study on microfinance. Ever since we at B Lab began to lay tracks for a partnership with Sistema B, I’ve been fascinated. Seeing how entrepreneurs in Latin America, particularly in Chile, have taken social & environmental matters into their own hands, I've been inspired by the momentum we've witnessed there. Returning to Chile for fiiS was a blessing. 

Here are some photos from my phone and some brief notes that barely recapture the magic of the week…

The design of the entire festival was authentic, intentional, and deeply aligned with the nascent yet persevering growth of a global movement using business as a force for good. I often say that, in addition to our rigorous standards and fine-tuned process to measure companies’ social & environmental performance, sometimes our best watchdogs are the B Corps themselves. When you’re trying to determine authenticity, nothing tells you more faster than looking at the overall design of an event. Hats off to the design team behind fiiS for their well-crafted design throughout, and to Sistema B for putting together the Mercado B (The B Market).

Any panel you attended, chances are you’d hear the term “Empresa B” dropped more than once. With 70+ panels (charlas) and 130+ speakers, it was mind-blowing to hear the amount of support for the global movement of companies—and specifically Empresas B—using the power of business to address social & environmental problems. The recognition of the B Corp movement as a strong step in the right direction was reassuring. 

My panel explored sports and social movements. I was joined by Chile’s most famous futbol player, Ivan Zamorano; Patagonia Ambassador and professional surfer Ramon Navarro; founder of Homeless World Cup Mel Young; and youth educator and activist Dina Buchbinder. The common thread woven through the chat was the power of sports for youth and breaking down barriers to access. I shared my story of my time in Ghana working at a Juvenile Detention Center and coaching soccer. Nothing was more powerful than the free time playing soccer for these kids. While speaking, I held a One World Futbol in my hands. This virtually indestructible soccer ball, created by a B Corp, has been placed at the soles of 30 mil youth around the world, and is a true example of the B Corp movement. I was thrilled to gift this ball to Ivan Zamorano at the end of the panel. I also had the chance to show our trailer for our B Corp Ambassador Program to my fellow panelists and our audience, highlighting the message and exhilarating action footage of our ambassadors: Forrest Shearer, Dan Ross, and Chanelle Sladics. I publicly invited Ramon Navarro to be our first B Corp Ambassador in Latin America—and the offer is still open!

Music transcends time and place. While the B Corp movement in North America is hustling to bring melody to the movement by beginning to certify musicians, venues, festivals, and concert touring companies, there was much to learn from the beautiful tones spilled throughout fiiS. The artists at fiiS included Nano Stern, Ely Guerra, Leon Gieco, and Mala Rodriquez. 

We’d especially like to give gigantic shout-outs to the leaders of the movement: the Empresas B. They came out in full uniform, decked out in signage and smiles as they spent the early hours of the day helping one another construct their bamboo booths, lay out product, and create the Mercado B (the B Market). It was truly beautiful and a very popular destination for attendees. Thank you Empresas B for redefining success in business and being models for the global community to follow.

And the most special thanks goes to Juan Pablo and the rest of our family at Sistema B. Juan Pablo planted a seed at our 2014 Champions Retreat for the community to be inspired by fiiS, and it has blossomed. The community of B Corps and us at B Lab are ready to whip out our crayons and imagine something bigger, something more fun, something that invites everyone, from all walks of life, to see what B Corps stand for. We look forward to a bright future, working hard with one another to prove to the world that business can be used as a force for good. But we can’t forget to have fun. 

Stay tuned for some of our attempts to recreate what fiiS has taught us in Portland at the 2015 Champions Retreat!

And a personal thank you from me. I'm the luckiest kid on the block to have had this opportunity.



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