Our Impact Investing, Sustainability and Benefit Corporations team helps clients understand and take advantage of investment opportunities that represent sustainable business practices.
An increasing number of businesses are dedicated to developing and maintaining business practices and investment strategies that are both economically profitable and environmentally sustainable. Our Impact Investing, Sustainability and Benefit Corporations team helps clients do so by establishing alternative corporate structures, such as benefit corporations and making or receiving impact investments.
Our partner Bill Clark drafted the Model Benefit Corporation Legislation and has been involved in the legislative process in most of the states that have authorized benefit corporations. For those efforts, in 2012, we were named a B Corp Champion by B Lab, a nonprofit organization that independently certifies companies as “Certified B Corps.” The nonprofit also designated Drinker Biddle as a go-to law firm to assist companies with the legal requirements necessary to become a benefit corporation. Because we have been intimately involved in the creation of benefit corporation status since its inception, we are uniquely positioned to advise clients on the ins and outs of this unique corporate structure.
Impact investing is one of the most widely discussed philosophies for investing, not only funds that are ultimately earmarked to be used for philanthropic causes, but as a way to invest for better overall returns. Impact investments are generally defined as investments made with the intent to generate positive environmental, social or governance impact while at the same time obtaining market returns. Whether you are a philanthropist, in charge of running a family or corporate foundation, or merely an investor who is committed to the view that you can do well by doing good, we work with clients who are interested in making impact investments.
Our team has extensive experience helping companies understand and foster the opportunities and profitability associated with sustainable and “triple bottom line” business practices. Our experience includes:
Having been a part of the B Corp initiative since inception, we have represented clients that are having important impacts on some of society’s most pressing problems. Those clients include:
- The owner of a portfolio of patents relating to the capture of C02 from ambient air.
- A processor of cashew nuts in Africa whose products are now carried in major U.S. grocery chains and that uses most of its profits to support local farmers, build housing for its workers and invest in other impact businesses.
- The first maker of “fair trade” soccer balls.
- The first processor of human breast milk for use in neonatal intensive care units that uses rigorous safety standards and processing systems to insure the quality of the milk.
We have worked with a wide variety of investors in many different sectors and industries. Some of these projects have included:
- Worked with a philanthropist, a nonprofit and a for-profit company to create a philanthropic fund to invest in a palm oil plantation in Africa to provide a sustainable source of revenue from palm oil and support the development of the local community.
- Worked with a private “fair trade” company in the health and beauty industry whose philosophy is to provide a “fair wage,” prepare and ultimately raise investment funds.
- Worked with a biotech venture capital fund to structure a new investment vehicle that would specifically attract philanthropists, foundations and pharma investors for investment in technologies aimed at orphan diseases.
- Worked with companies specializing in water infrastructure development to obtain relevant grant funding and other impact investment funding. Examples of developments these companies are working to establish include water reuse programs and implementation of leak reduction technology in municipal water grids.
Members of our team have worked with entrepreneurs from historically underprivileged and impoverished communities to provide them with the legal guidance and business advice to help launch and grow their small businesses. Our investment in these entrepreneurs have enabled both these business owners and their businesses to grow and thrive, providing them with access to needed legal experience they otherwise could not afford and collaborating with them to build a solid foundation for their small businesses. For the entrepreneur, this experience often proves to be a life-altering one. It makes a significant difference in their business in the short term and launches it on a positive trajectory resulting in lasting differences in the long run.
Designated as a go-to law firm to assist companies in becoming a benefit corporationB LAB