This is my story about an entrepreneurial journey to become a B Corp startup.
It has always been a dream for me to start my own business. My parents, my parents-in-law as well as my husband have always had their own businesses.
Five years ago there was a real chance of starting a new chapter in my life, and all signs were pointing towards founding my own business as well. I had a lot of ideas which all had the same perspective in mind, namely doing a real difference for other people and making their lives better.
This is the story of how I became an entrepreneur and part of the B-Corp movement.
Building a business with purpose
Four years ago, Mumutane became a reality. Mumutane comes from the West African tribe language,Hausa, and is a contraction of two words meaning ‘we humans’. It’s a way of saying that Mumutane works across borders and culture to create something meaningful together. Mumutane designs and creates home decor in an inspirational and modern mix between a minimalistic Nordic expression and colourful African aesthetics.
The idea behind Mumutane is to create a new modern take on existing traditions from the best of two different worlds; the Nordic design values and the lively and inspirational African tradition. At the sametime, it was extremely important to me to deep dive into all processes not to compromise people or planet during the different business phases. In fact, I wanted to create purposeful design products which had a positive impact on both the environment and people.
Therefore, I made an agreement with the Danish luxury upholstery company, Kvadrat, to use all of their leftover and deadstock materials to minimise waste in their production.
Furthermore, I made agreements with small textile shops in Abuja,Nigeria’s capital, to source beautiful wax print textiles from their businesses. All the fabrics from their shops come in very few pieces, which is why we only have very limited stock of each cushion made.
Besides our consideration of materials used, an agreement with a social impact tailoring business in Denmark was made. They hire vulnerable people who can work as little as 1-2 hours a day. Sabine and Pia are some of the women working here and sewing for Mumutane. Being a part of Huset Venture has made their lives and every day more stable and safe. Working in collaboration with Mumutane has provided them with new energy and self-confidence, that their skills are needed and that they are doing a great and meaningful job.
In Abuja, Mumutane also collaborates with a small tailor business driven by mum and daughter. They have a few employees - mainly young women - who they teach how to sew. During our collaboration they have made different accessories for Mumutane, and they are now using our tote bag design to create and sell in their own product assortment.
Part of the B Corp movement
In 2020 I came across the B Corp movement. In the beginning I couldn’t believe that an organisation had captured all of these fantastic perspectives of doing business in one complete certification. I was very excited and decided to look further into the assessment.
At first glimpse it was overwhelming and looked tough, also at my second and third walkthrough! Everything was well thought through, and I could see that this was a real challenge for Mumutane to become a part of. Nevertheless, I thought it was meant to be. There was a purpose for me to become part of the B Corp movement and I couldn’t just overhear the drummings!
Beginning the journey
So I decided to begin the B Corp journey and set myself the goal of getting Mumutane certified as a B Corporation. Another 32 Danish companies were already B Corp certified, so why shouldn’t I be able to see this through with Mumutane.
I challenged myself and took on a Pippi Longstocking mindset ‘I haven’t tried this before, so I’m sure I can do it’. During the process, which felt like taking another full-time job on my shoulders alongside running Mumutane, I almost gave up several times; ‘it’s too time-consuming, too difficult, I don’t understand the questions, is it really the right priority, is it important enough’, I asked myself over and over again. But I also told myself ‘now you’ve already spent so much time on the assessment, don’t makethat time useless’. Also, I recalled my objectives for founding Mumutane and making a difference, and said to myself that ‘consumer behaviour will change and will become more critical, therefore being able to document how you make a difference will be even more important and necessary in the near future’, and ‘you’ll forever regret not to see this one through, you’ll learn so much from the process and assessment.’
Finally; The certification
I was right. I learned so much from the journey. I had never imagined that it would take so long, and I would’ve worked so hard and spent so many hours on this, but the satisfaction of achieving the certification was huge. On the 10th of December2021, I got a fabulous email that Mumutane had achieved 88,3 points which was a great deal above the minimum limit of 80 points.
The end is the beginning
The exciting thing about B Corp is that the journey has just begun. Going through the assessment, the iterations, the reviews etc. etc. was just the beginning. Now it’s time to improve all processes, think the unpossible, walk that extra mile to achieve the best way of doing business for people and the environment and at the same time designing and creating purposeful products for your home.
It’s inspiring for Mumutane to be a part of this B Corp community, which hopefully will help Mumutane grow and thus be able to help even more people in need.
Written by founder, Maria Kastrup Lausten.