Branson’s B Team

Derek Handley

Source: Image from original article

Virgin Group founder Sir Richard Branson reckons business needs a Plan B – laying the groundwork for his latest initiative, The B Team, which boasts Kiwi entrepreneur Derek Handley as CEO.

We have been watching Derek’s career with interest ever since Edelweiss took a French class with him a few years ago.  So this article in Idealog caught my eye on two fronts: first it is great to see that Derek has caught the eye of one of the world’s great entrepreneurs; and second, the goals of the initiative are to encourage the good side of capitalism.

The B Team (the latest in a series of global ventures incubated by Virgin Unite, the not for profit foundation of the Virgin Group) will consist of international CEOs and business leaders across industry sectors with one common mission: championing concrete solutions to help make capitalism a driving force for social, environmental and economic benefit.

Those members will be announced early next year, along with a number of inaugural ‘grand challenges’, which may focus on things like creating a global standard to help businesses account for the environmental impacts of their operations – you can submit your own ideas here.

“We see The B Team as a catalyst, sparking a movement that will change the course of business so that the next generation of business leaders take it for granted that business must be a win-win for all stakeholders including nature and society,” said Handley. …

Branson says business has had many positive impacts on the world, but needs to move away from a focus on immediate profit to one where it invests and operates for the long term good of people and the planet.

“Using business and entrepreneurial skills to help solve critical social and environmental issues is one of the biggest opportunities of our lifetimes.”

The first idea for a grand challenge that springs my mind is to create a framework for pricing that takes into account the full cost of the product or service – materials, labour, resource replacement, environmental impact, social costs etc.  Then over time as factors such as the price of carbon become either mandated or accepted as a component of a product’s price, these can be slotted into the pricing framework using a transparent and agreed approach.

What ideas would you submit to The B Team?

My other reaction was highlighted in a comment on the article.  What role do politicians need to play?  Can anything worthwhile be achieved in this area without regulation or government involvement?  I am mulling over the question of how government and charity fits into my thinking regarding the market approach, so would be interested in your thoughts.  I do wonder though whether anything will happen unless initiatives like The B Team do take the initiative.  We may wait too long if we wait for a political solution.

What role does government play in a market-based approach to development?

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