Ben Smock, Director of Development at Canopy

Canopy is a nonprofit located in the Portland neighborhood that serves the Good Business movement in Kentucky. The purpose of the movement is to inspire people to unite with a common purpose of adopting employee, community, and environmentally conscious business models.

We spoke with Ben Smock, Director of Development at Canopy, about the launch of Canopy’s certificate program.

Tell us about Canopy.

Smock: Canopy’s primary mission is to grow Kentucky businesses to positively impact people, our planet, and our future. We’re here to create accessibility to the Good Business movement and to position Kentucky as a premier ecosystem for Good Businesses.

What is the Canopy Certification?

Smock: B Corp Certification is a designation that a business is meeting high standards of verified performance, accountability, and transparency on factors from employee benefits and charitable giving to supply chain practices and input materials. Yet, there are only eight B Corps in KY now. Globally, there are close to 4,000.

Why only eight?

Smock: There are significant barriers to having more B Corp businesses in the area: (a) it’s time intensive; (b) it’s costly to do; and (c) it requires a complete assessment where, out of 200 possible points, you need to score at least 80.

Canopy is delivering our own approach to “making Kentucky first in Good Business” through our Canopy Certified Program. We have 50 companies signed up thus far. We are the necessary on-ramp for businesses in KY that want to “operationalize their good” and become part of the global Good Business movement.

What are some specifics about the certification?

Smock: At Canopy, we will verify that businesses are leading with integrity, taking care of their stakeholders, and positively impacting the environments they serve. Our certification provides ample time to complete and sets the stage for continuous improvement in four primary tracks: leadership, governance, employee culture, and external impact. With these types of processes for improvement, there is no finish line.

It’s all for Kentuckians—for Kentucky businesses and by Kentuckians. Ultimately, we endeavor to have hundreds of Canopy Certified companies, and more B Corps, throughout the state of Kentucky.

How will you push the certifications through?

Smock: We will start our certification process under Canopy by the beginning of Q2 2022. We are currently fundraising for our capital campaign and looking at ways we can facilitate more companies with the Canopy curricula and resources. We’ve currently got a staff of four full-time team members, and another four part-time.

We are organizationally driven to be inclusive and we see the diversity in the employer base in the state. We look at industries, ownership, and locations when we recruit for certification. We also offer scholarships that meet key criteria in the under-represented population that wish to participate in this certification for their startup.

What is the technology behind your certification platform?

Smock: This is a software-as-a-service platform and focuses the applications on continuous improvement processes. It’s online software. We begin at a cost of about $450 annually for users with a sliding scale dependent on the company size, and we do work with startups.

Who can get the Canopy certification?

Smock: Anyone can join us. The company must be incorporated in the state of Kentucky. We expect great success in working with small businesses and entrepreneurs, by encouraging solid business leadership skills. The platform allows for merit badges based on key focus areas, including diversity and inclusion, transparent leadership, and being mission-minded every day.

This certification will be a catalyst for social and environmental impacts tied to driving economic development. We are building up our relationships with state government entities and chambers of commerce to strengthen the certification, and we will issue an annual impact report.

Some of our first Canopy-certified founding companies in our first cohort will be: FMS, Heine Bros., Interapt, DDW, and ISCO.

Why is Louisville a good place to launch this certification program for the state?

Smock: We love our state, and Louisville is an incredibly important part of it. This city is a key driver in the state’s economic success. It’s important that we embrace the good business movement so it will be meaningful here.

Ben Smock holds an MBA from the University of Louisville, and a Bachelor of Science in Management from the University of Kentucky.