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From the left in the photo, the guest, Rina Sakai, CEO of Fermen Station, and the interviewer, Nozomi Kosaka, Brand Director of Business Insider Japan.

Photo: Yutaro Kobayashi

“BEYOND” is an online program that spotlights people and companies that are taking action by capturing “signs of change.”

In the 11th installment, Rina Sakai, CEO of Fermenstation, the first Japanese startup to acquire the international certification system “B Corporation” (hereafter, B Corp), will appear.

The abstract of the program that aired on August 16th (Tuesday) will be partially edited and posted.

You can watch the event on YouTube.

Photo: Business Insider Japan

──Please tell us about the business of Fermen Station.

Rina Sakai (hereafter, Sakai):Fermenstation means “fermentation station”. It is a startup that creates a recycling-oriented society by fermenting unused resources and turning them into usable ones.

“Fermenstation” solution.

Source: Fermen Station

──How do you plan to change it?

Sakai:Alcohol and ethanol are produced and used as raw materials for cosmetics, and the waste produced during the production process is used as feed for chickens and cows.

In addition, we are working with the local community on a zero-waste business, in which eggs laid by chickens are turned into sweets and the chicken droppings are used as compost.

——You also have a product development business.

Sakai:yes. We sell sprays and soaps under the organic brand FERMENTATION.

In addition, we are developing original raw materials using fermentation technology and working on businesses that transform unused resources of large companies into new products.

We aim to have ferment stations in various places.

The B Corp of Stakeholder Capitalism

Examples of major “B Corp” certified companies

Examples of major “B Corp” certified companies.

Created by: Business Insider Japan

──Please tell us how you found out about “B Corp”.

Sakai:I don’t remember actually.

However, when I went to the United States about 20 years ago, I learned about the ice cream brand “Ben & Jerry’s.”

I sympathized with the management of Ben & Jerry’s and wanted to do business in the same way. So I thought, “There’s no reason not to take it,” and naturally moved in the direction of getting it.

──B Corp can be said to be a “good company certification,” but what kind of certification do you think it is, Mr. Sakai?

Sakai:B Corp has a saying, “People Using Business As A Force For Good,” which I like, but it’s supposed to be a business first. And the business is related to various people.

In other words, I think that B Corp is a movement that aims to have a positive impact in all directions.

At Fermenstation, we say that we want to achieve both business and social benefits. For a company with such a mindset, it is a system that can be very sympathetic.

──Is it correct to think of omnidirectional as “all stakeholders,” as mentioned in the 2019 “Business Roundtable”?

Sakai:I agree. “Stakeholder capitalism,” says B Corp.

I understand that everyone involved is a stakeholder rather than just looking at shareholders, and that it means doing things that are good for everyone.

The road to acquiring B Crop

Rina Sakai

Ms. Rina Sakai, the representative director of Fermen Station, who talks about the road to acquiring B Crop.

Photo: Yutaro Kobayashi

──In June 2022, the Japanese version of the B Corp handbook was finally published, and by the summer of 2022, 14 companies had obtained certification in Japan. The reason why the acquisition of B Corp did not progress in Japan may be because the handbook in Japanese came out late.

Sakai:I think there is also that. In the first place, there was almost no Japanese information about B Corp.

──I heard that it is difficult to acquire a B Corp. How was it actually?

Sakai:In general, I think it is difficult, but compared to fundraising, it was more difficult for our company to raise funds.

The first step in the application process is the B Impact Assessment (BIA).

We will measure your company’s score by answering nearly hundreds of questions in five areas: “Governance”, “Employees”, “Environment”, “Community”, and “Customers”.

Also, B Corp cannot be obtained unless the BIA score exceeds 80 points.

What is B Corp

Outline of “B Corp”.

Created by: Business Insider Japan

——What kind of questions will they ask?

Sakai:For example, “Do you disclose your company’s PL internally?”

I think that it is difficult for companies that have not done such initiatives to begin with, because they need to build up from scratch.

──Is the reason why Fermenstation didn’t have a hard time acquiring the certification was because it had already made efforts that were being asked about at BIA?

Sakai:I agree. From the time I started the business, I wanted to create a company that was in line with the B Corp mindset.

However, I felt that I could have gotten a better score on the BIA, so I think it was a pass. It’s not that I’m happy that I got it, but I found out what I’m lacking and I can see the future issues.

──How long did it take from application to acquisition?

Sakai:I started preparing around May 2021 and took the BIA in August.

After that I waited a long time. Around November, I received online questions asking for evidence and details regarding the content of my application.

Then, there was an online interview in February 2022, and it was acquired in March.

──It takes more than half a year.

Sakai:I agree. It may have been earlier.

Since BIA is accessible to everyone, we recommend that those considering applying first check what kind of questions they have and give their scores.

Changes in employee awareness due to acquisition

Rina Sakai

Photo: Yutaro Kobayashi

──What kind of reaction did you get from people around you when you acquired B Corp?

Sakai:People who knew B Corp said “Congratulations!” and I was happy.

Recently, there have been more opportunities for interviews, and even without knowing B Corp, there are people who think, “This is amazing. It’s some kind of trend.”

──What about inside the company?

Sakai:The B Corp logo will be on your business card, and you may want to explain the B Corp more externally.

There was a movement to come up with ideas based on the examples of other companies’ B Corps, saying, “We can do more like this.” It’s a lot of fun now.

──The fact that everyone is working towards the same idea leads to team building.

Sakai:I agree.

Besides, when I went to Europe last month, the reputation was good. I thought it was an absolute plus for the deal.

I’ve also met people from companies that have acquired B Crop, and maybe because they have the same mindset, they hit it off.

──Finally, if there is anything you want to say to the readers, please.

Sakai:B Corp is a pleasant form of business and I find it interesting. If you are interested in this kind of thought, I would like you to know deeply.

And spreading it is our mission, and it is also what we want to do.

We are also sending information on social media to tell you. We also talk about how unused resources are changing and what kind of mindset we are doing business with.

We hope that you will take a look and work with us to create a recycling-oriented society.

(Interviewer: Nozomi Kosaka, Composition: Ikkaku Benino)

The current location of nuclear fusion, the infrastructure of the era of 10 billion people

From 19:00 on August 23, 2022 (Tuesday), representatives of three companies, Kyoto Fusioneering, EX-Fusion, and Helical Fusion, will be invited as guests to present “The current location of infrastructure ‘nuclear fusion’ in the era of 10 billion people.” I will send it to you.

What is “BEYOND”?

Scheduled to be delivered every Wednesday from 19:00. Business, technology, SDGs, work styles… Business Insider Japan reporters/editors interviewed people who challenge themselves to create a new future without being bound by preconceived notions. Through dialogue with reporters, we will dig deeper into the origins of the challenge, current initiatives, and the future we want to create.

The archive will be published in a playlist on our YouTube channel.

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