SOCAR, the largest car sharing service in South Korea, became the first company among its industry peers to be officially recognized as a B Corporation (Benefit Corporation). Through their business, SOCAR seeks to improve the society through environmental responsibility.
Since its launch in 2012, SOCAR’s services fared well to meet demands of a culture that values convenience. Starting out with only a hundred Hyundai Sonatas, the company within two years of service expanded its fleet to over a thousand vehicles, now shared among over 50,000 users. Selected as one of “100 Thriving Startups” in 2013 by startup portal Demoday, SOCAR is known for bringing unparalleled convenience to Korean drivers. Similar to ZipCar, users sign up to receive a card key that allows them to borrow cars located in major cities throughout country. Members can easily reserve a car via a mobile application, and adjust their rental times by 10-minute intervals.
B Corporation is a certificate system created by B Lab, a US non-profit organization established in 2007, in order to encourage businesses to bring positive social impact. Companies are awarded the title based on four categories of evaluation: corporate governance, work environment, local community engagement, and environmental friendliness. To this date, there are 1,104 B Corporations across 121 different industries and 34 countries, all of which share the goal of incorporating environmental and social responsibility into the definition of corporate success. Well-known ice cream maker Ben & Jerry’s is for example a B Corp, certified for producing fresh ice cream made with rBGH-free milk.
In order to qualify as a B Corp, a company must score at least 80 points out of possible 200 points on B Lab’s certification system. SOCAR earned 101 points with high marks in the work environment and environmental friendliness categories. By bringing a car-sharing platform to a densely populated country like South Korea, SOCAR has contributed much to alleviating parking space problems and reducing car pollution.
SOCAR’s fleet consists more of compact and hybrid cars to maintain an average of 60% eco-friendly vehicles in its service pool. The company claims that its pricing structure encourages users to plan driving distances ahead of time. As an effect, drivers are able to cut both costs and pollution. On average, according to its website, a SOCAR driver travels 40% less in distance than when driving on their own cars.
As the first in its industry to be certified as a B Corp, SOCAR now plans to further publicize the social benefits of its platform by developing a proprietary standard for measuring social impact.