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Teresa Comparini always had a passion for promoting healthy living and nutrition. In 2010, she turned her passion into a business by opening Terrium, a Chilean company that sells delicious organic and sugar-free goodies. The socially conscious food scientist turned entrepreneur didn’t stop there — she made Terrium into a “B Corporation”, also known as “B Corps”.

Certified by B Lab, B Corps are for-profit companies that use business to solve social and environmental problems. B Lab is supported by Sistema B, an IDRC-supported non-profit that is leading a new movement of B corporations and a community of social entrepreneurs in Latin America.

Not only does Terrium produce environmentally sustainable products, but the company is also organized around the needs of local women and their families. Teresa hired a handful of women living near the production site to limit their travel to and from work, and she designed a business model that aligns daily work hours and vacations with school schedules.

The IDRC-funded research project Counting Women’s Work found that the time women and girls spend working in the job market and at home typically exceeds the time spent by men and boys on the same activities. Women and girls also take on a greater burden caring for their grandparents, parents, children, and grandchildren. The flexibility of Teresa’s model is significant because it helps to reduce the burden of household care while providing women with decent economic opportunities.

Social enterprises such as Teresa’s are changing the way we understand business and allocate profit.

Our approach is an invitation to open our mental maps, to enlarge the limits of the possible in our minds, and build a new economy where economic opportunities offer well-being for women and their families, and do not come at the expense of life. Public policy focuses on creating economic opportunities for women, but forgets that 40% of homes are single parent households. Imagine if public policy supported the creation of jobs based on the real needs of women and families.

— Maria Emilia Correa, director at Sistema B

credit: C Communications Teresa Comparini, founder of Terrium y Biosnack

IDRC is supporting research on inclusive business models that embrace social and environmental objectives along with economic goals. 

In partnership with Sistema B, IDRC is also supporting Academia B to develop a research agenda on the potential for these companies to elevate women’s business leadership and generate economic opportunities for marginalized women and youth.

B Corps around the world are demonstrating how this new business model is viable in the modern economy. The definition of success is expanded to include the ability to meet people’s needs, offer a higher quality of life, and provide decent work.

The difference is that the business model is organized around the notion of contributing to society’s welfare as a major purpose, beyond financial returns. B Corps such as Crepes & Waffles, the largest restaurant chain in Colombia, offer opportunities for single mothers; Maravil offers work and income for women who cannot leave their homes; and Paloma & Angostura offer jobs to former female guerilla fighters in Colombia.

The B Corps model shows that corporations can do good and also obtain positive financial results. Or, as the members of this “movement” would say, these are “life generating” corporations. Today there is a growing community of more than 1,600 certified B Corps in 42 countries, and more than 120 industries who are working together towards a new system of socially-conscious entrepreneurship.

 

Region

Country Profile

Our research grantees in Chile have contributed to policymakers’ understanding of the economy, labour markets, social services, and key resource sectors such as forestry, fisheries, and mining.

Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, support from IDRC enabled researchers to remain in the country and work despite the military dictatorship’s suppression of social science research. Driven out of universities and other publicly funded institutions, several researchers founded private research entities, whose work we funded. Later, the work of these institutions and the direct participation of many of their researchers in Chile’s political leadership contributed to re-establishing democratic institutions.

Rural development

We funded the region’s first research program on rural development in the late 1970s. Twenty years later, this program became the Latin American Centre for Rural Development. Based in Chile, it investigates successful and failed development efforts in rural Latin America.

A five-year grant has enabled the organization to identify the factors at work when a region prospers, poverty diminishes, and the gap between rich and poor narrows. The research, which involved 19 regions in 10 countries, has helped policymakers improve how they promote rural development. For example, lessons from the research have made their way into the Mexican government’s 2014 poverty reduction program, and a 2013 Colombian law on land and rural development.

Strong industry

From 1980 to 1995, we supported Chilean research on policies and practices to promote technological innovation. Researchers laid the groundwork for universities to analyze labour market trends and align educational programs with the skills industry needed.

Researchers also studied residential energy use, the need to use wood fuel efficiently, and the potential for small and medium-scale hydroelectric power generation. Chile’s energy management policies drew on this research.

Medical research

New collaborations between Chilean, Canadian, and Israeli researchers supported by the Joint Canada-Israel Health Research Program — a partnership with the Azrieli Foundation, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, and the Israel Science Foundation — focus on cutting-edge medical research. One team is examining how the disruptive effects of antibiotics on gut bacteria may affect brain function in children. Another team seeks to understand the molecular mechanisms that can impact brain wiring and hinder proper brain development.

Total IDRC Support

287 activities worth CAD $39.5 million since 1974

Researchers studying water in Chile.
WORLD BANK / M.Mantel

* These figures reflect IDRC’s investment up to 2018.

Our support is helping to

  • increase the role of women in civic life;
  • ensure that women and youth benefit from economic growth;
  • test the effectiveness of regulations intended to improve nutrition;
  • understand the connection between antibiotics and mental health; and
  • improve the well-being of people in rural-urban territories.

Projects

Explore research projects we support in this region.

Photo: Maria Fleischmann / World Bank