Sudara’s founder, Shannon Keith, was inspired by a trip to India in 2005 to begin an innovative business venture to create lasting impact for survivors and those at high risk of sex trafficking. Now, a certified B Corp and Best for the World 2019 Governance Honoree, the company makes chic pyjamas, robes, T-shirts, lounge pants and other fashion items. In doing so, they give women a safe passage to freedom, helping to train more than 1,200 women in India per year with an 89% job placement rate.
Your trip to India clearly changed everything for you, can you tell us more about what you saw and heard while you were there?
While in India, I heard story after story of women who were sold into sex slavery and stories of women who were at high risk of being forced into the sex trade by their families or picked up off the streets by local pimps. The reasons they were at a high risk? Because they lacked an education or the resources or skills to have a choice.
I returned home from that trip and formed a small team of family and friends. Together, we looked for groups in India that were compelled to have a positive impact and help women looking for a way out of sex slavery, knowing that safe, steady, dignified and living-wage employment would be a pathway to freedom and offer choices for women and their families.
What do you think is the importance of the B Corp movement for business — how do you think that being a B Corp can make a difference in how or what people buy?
The B Corp movement is a way for businesses to put into action what everyone else is talking about aligning their personal values with every part of life. It goes beyond rhetoric and makes a tangible difference in the lives of people both in how companies are structured and governed according to the products that companies produce.
What do you think is the importance of being a B Corp for your customers? Have you seen evidence of this among your customers or wider market you want to attract?
I think being a certified B Corp lets our customers know that we are all about aligning our values with our business. It’s not about marketing for us, it’s about making sure our customers can trust we are exactly who we say we are — 100% mission-aligned. I believe like attracts like, so yes, I do believe our customers resonate with our business structure and B Corp status.
How much does your business look to other B Corps as partners/suppliers?
Sudara’s core value is collaboration and we look to actively partner with other B Corps all of the time. To date there are only 3,821 certified B Corps worldwide, so we still need others to jump into the movement.
We are certainly committed to being a leader here and have pitched out multiple collaborative ideas to other B Corps for such collaborations. I would say that MaCher reaching out to us to partner in this way is certainly a good marker of B2B engagements driving change.
What are your key learnings from the process of becoming B Corp certified?
It is a pretty intense process and not for the faint of heart. I think the effort is really important and is certainly worth it. Involving all employees and stakeholders during the process is always a beneficial learning experience.
What does the future look like for your business?
The future is bright as we look forward to deeper partnerships and greater engagement with the B Corp community in every part of our business, so that together we can make a greater impact in the world — and keep working on the UN’s SDGs! We are stepping up to “meet the moment” in our world right now as we humans are grappling with racial, environmental, gender and equity justice.
Who is your sustainability hero?
The folks at the “bottom of the pyramid” in India. They recycle, reuse, repurpose everything, so that nothing is wasted. I love when I am there eating off of banana leaves with my hands during a group meal. Whole, delicious foods and nothing is wasted.
This article has been posted by MaCher to celebrate B Corp Month 2021 and build awareness of companies that meet the highest standard of verified social and environmental performance. For more information about Sudara, please click here.