28 February 2022

B Corp: Solving problems through regenerative solutions

B Corp: Solving problems through regenerative solutions

Launching the Livebarefoot Fund

In 2020 we became a B Corp. That makes us part of a worldwide movement putting purpose ahead of profit. We make money by solving problems, not causing them. And together, we’re on a mission to prove that business can be done right.

This inspired us to launch The Livebarefoot Foundation. It’s our in-house incubation hub for regenerative solutions that bring people closer to nature.  

What does that mean? Here’s some examples of how we get involved. We’ve helped create the first professional-standard skate park in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Why? Because we work closely with the Ethiopian people and things like skate parks provide opportunities for young people and increase quality of life. And pulling a fakie nose grind is rad whether you’re in LA, Sydney or downtown Addis.

Closer to Vivo’s UK home, we’re also trialling a seaweed farm off the South coast of the UK. Not for sushi garnishing, but because sea-based materials have huge potential and seaweed eats up carbon dioxide more effectively than trees. Win-win.

Land-basedsolutions are all part of the mix, too – with initiatives that support biodiversity and rewilding. Whether it’s community-based permaculture farming, or eco-tourism ventures – in the last two years over 80% of our pre-tax profit has backed social and environmental projects.

Working with the Future Footwear Foundation we keep the spirit of the earliest shoe-making alive. We’ve recently funded an apprenticeship in association with Royal College of Art. This has resulted in a new designer joining us at Vivo to dream big about 3D possibilities and the potential of local manufacturing – person by person, foot by foot.

Becoming a B Corp also inspired us to change our annual financial reporting to annual impact reporting. Our 2020/2021 impact report Unfinished Business bypasses corporate back-patting and gets deep into the weeds, diving headfirst into the complex and not always complimentary details.

Unfinished Business still has all that fun stuff like EBITDA and other acronyms that make the accountants happy. But, most importantly, it makes our regenerative targets equal to our financial ones; it is radically transparent about the growing pains of our business.

We actively encourage our customers and partners to hold us to account. Being challenged on our practices is far more valuable to us than playing sleight-of-hand tricks and lining the pockets of unscrupulous shareholders.

We recognise that without our ecosystem of stakeholders, we’re nothing. Through meaningful collaboration (not just the kind that looks good in a mission statement) business can help to guide the way out of the mess we’re in.