[Interview] TuShare's Imogen Baxter explains why B Corps are the future of business

Imogen Baxter wants 'TuShare' with us the beautiful way she’s keeping 'stuff' out of landfills.

It has been said that B Corp certification is to business what Fair Trade certification is to coffee.

B Corporations – or 'benefit corporations' - are changing the way business is done and redefining success in the corporate world. Instead of competing to be the best in the world, B Corporations also compete to be the best for the world.

Meeting rigorous ethical standards environmentally and socially as well as upholding transparency and accountability within the business, B Corps are revolutionizing the corporate world. And TuShare is just one of the many B Corps worldwide hoping to make a difference. TuShare takes the age-old act of sharing and reinvents it for the modern age by creating a digital space for people to share their pre-loved and pre-owned goods for free, giving "stuff" a different meaning.

Imogen Baxter is the General Manager of TuShare and took some time to elaborate on the concept of B Corps.

How would you describe TuShare and where did the idea for it come from?

People use TuShare to share their pre-loved and pre-owned things for free. Our mission is to keep useable stuff in the hands of good people by making sharing really easy. We are a 43,000 strong community from across Australia and are passionate about neighbourliness, saving good stuff from landfill, and the joy of giving! We help people rehome all sorts: from boats to bikinis, lava lamps to laptops, and kitchen wares to kids toys. All we ask for in return is a thank you, and a promise to pay it forward when you're able.

The idea of sharing is age old. In lots of ways, it is the main way that people connect. But these days it's less common than ever to stay in your hometown, to know all of your neighbours, and to share stuff in the way that we once did. When you add to this the amount of stuff that's being bought and remains useable once the first person is done with it (about $1 billion dollars' worth!), we've got a bit of a problem on our hands.

A good example of this is the high level of useable products that ends up in landfill - chucking stuff in the bin is easy because the bin is an incredible, door-to-door frictionless service. The TuShare platform allows people to connect like they once did wrapped up in the feel-good nature of giving – we hope to keep great useable stuff in the hands of people and out of holes in the ground.

What do you think is wrong with the way we currently do business?

Right now there seems to be a huge divide between organisations that do good and those that don't. This isn't really surprising when you consider the current way of doing business. We've gotten to the point where most of us don't bat an eyelid when a big for-profit company has a really dodgy supply chain or has been trashing the environment because in many ways we expect it. On the other hand, we're incredibly critical of how not-for-profits operate: "why won't these people work for free?" "Why do they have a big overhead cost?", etc. B Corporations is a kind of middle ground, where for-profit companies align their business model to social and environmental good. It's exciting!

Why did TuShare want to be a B Corp and can you please elaborate a bit on the certification process?

The certification process itself is rigorous, but ultimately it allows you to measure what matters.

Having a triple bottom line – people, planet and profits – was really important to us.

Aligning our business model with our goal of keeping stuff out of landfill kept us on track. We wanted to be a part of the movement that made business better and we wanted a solid framework for doing so, meaning B Corp was our natural home.

The B Lab assessment measures things such as the energy company or bank that you use, the gender balance of your board and your supply chain. The resulting report then gives you a comprehensive guide to improve your score. To get certified, a business must score 80 out of 200 possible points in a 150-question online survey. We also complete a phone interview, provide supporting documentation and commit to making a positive social and environmental impact.

How does TuShare define success?

If TuShare can help keep stuff out of landfill and in the hands of people, we're winning.

Do you one day see a world where one day B Corps are the business norm?

YES! B Corporations are cropping up in all kinds of industries and what's exciting is that they're proving that B Corps are here to stay. From Sendle (100% carbon neutral delivery company) and Wildwon (incredible events agency), to the bigger players such as Etsy and Patagonia, B Corps are killing it.

READ THIS NEXT: We want a legitimate sharing community, now how do we do that?

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