Interview with Manon Bezemer,
B Keeper at Winclove Probiotics

B Corp certificering

Manon Sierhuis-Bezemer

As ‘B Keeper’ does Manon actually keep bees? Soon enough, she just might. But as B Keeper for the family business, she is mainly the driving force behind Winclove Probiotics’ B Corp certification and leads many internal sustainability related projects. Although social engagement is in the DNA of every ‘Winclover’, the subject of ‘B Corp’ tops Manon’s agenda every day. 

Tell us, what does a B Keeper do?

Manon: “As a B Keeper you are a kind of internal B Corp project leader, someone who oversees the certification and keeps the subject alive in the organization. As a B Corp you are not obliged to appoint a B Keeper, but it is recommended by B Lab (the umbrella non-profit organization that awards the B Corp certificate to companies). Someone who colleagues can turn to with questions about B Corp and who initiates appealing projects to keep B Corp top of mind. The idea is that an entire company will be actively involved in thinking about it. So for the role of B Keeper it is handy to appoint a colleague who knows a bit about all the departments. Because I helped with the certification and the B Impact Assessment (BIA), I already had a lot of contact with all our company’s departments. It was therefore quite logical that I became B Keeper.” 

Project leader during BIA (B Impact Assessment)

She is sometimes asked whether it would not be more convenient to outsource the certification procedure to an external agency. Manon: “That is certainly an idea when it is difficult to make someone in your organization responsible, but personally I find it extremely valuable to have led the completion of the BIA myself. It has been particularly instructive to have done this together with colleagues. For the BIA in 2020, we looked at our company with a magnifying glass to see how we did back then and where we could do better. That may have even been the most useful thing we did, because getting certified was not our ultimate goal. It may have taken us a little longer, but we tackled it together. Besides, I don’t think it saves a lot of time in the end, because an agency also needs you and your input. All the information about your company has to be collected and delivered anyway.”  

Impact report

Based on the BIA, Winclove Probiotics formed a so-called ‘impact strategy’ with objectives and projects that contribute to a better world. Manon: “As B Keeper I keep an eye on our progress and impact, among other things. We have achieved certification at some point, and of course it doesn’t stop there. That is precisely the starting point when you think ‘What are we going to do the next three years?’, so that when the recertification comes, we really show improvement, that we have really grown. This year, as B Keeper, I made an impact report for the first time. Currently this is only for internal purposes, but next year it will be an external document as well. In it, you talk about your diversity policy, about your CO2 emissions and what you are doing to reduce them, and about the projects you deploy in pursuit of ‘Business as a force for good’. But also about the projects you set up alongside your business for your customers, for your community.  

B Keeper maintains connection

Now that a number of projects have been completed since the official certification in March 2021, it is time for a new internal session to consider which other projects can be taken up. In this way, the company is preparing itself like a true ‘bee colony’ for recertification in three years. Manon: “You really need all the employees in a company to ‘be and stay a B Corp’. It doesn’t work if I have to keep the subject alive on my own. I notice that the certification is well embedded in our company. Almost everyone thinks about the impact of decisions in their work and how we can make the best choice for the world around us. I often make the connection between colleagues in internal projects, because I get input from all sides and know a lot about it. One colleague comes up with a sustainable notebook? Then I link this person to someone from the Corporate Communication department who is working on a new brand book. The easier it is for employees to find me as B Keeper, the better it is to make the connection and the more the subject lives on in our organization.” 

Introducing B Corp during onboarding

B Corp-certificaatAt Winclove, the B Corp concept is put forward as early as the onboarding procedure. In this way, new employees learn what it entails and also what it means for their work. Manon: “In my role as B Keeper, I have a kind of B Corp introduction meeting with all new employees in which I explain what the certification entails, why Winclove Probiotics has become a B Corp and why it is so important for us. This information also inspires our colleagues to talk to others about B Corp and sustainability.” 

Projects for the future

To contribute to a future-proof planet, the company has already switched to exclusively green electricity, packaging is made more sustainable, staff are being encouraged to travel to work by public transport or on foot, and the company is investing in the most sustainable (new) accommodation possible, including solar panels. Manon: “During and after the certification, we thought of all kinds of projects with which we and our colleagues can contribute to a healthy planet based on the B Corp idea. Some projects are completed quickly, others take a long time. Think of our dream of becoming CO2 neutral – you can’t do it just like that. I can imagine that in the future we will continually gauge where we stand and what we can focus on even more.”  

“For the recertification, it is nice that these projects also give us extra impact points, but for us the B Corp certification is mainly a compliment on the way we have been working for years,” says Manon. “To give you an idea, according to B Corp, we still have about 180 areas for improvement, ranging from very small to very large. I don’t want to pick up only the projects that we can complete very quickly for the points. There has to be a healthy balance between small adjustments that we can pick up along the way and ambitious projects, such as minimizing our carbon footprint.”  

In order to involve everyone at the company in the B Corp and sustainability objectives, Manon asks colleagues to indicate which 10 projects they consider to be the most important. “We then vote on which of those 10 projects we will work on in the short term. You simply can’t do everything at once if you want to do it right and really add value to the world.” 

Want to learn more about B Corp? Please contact us

As a B Keeper, Manon enjoys talking with other companies about B Corp and sustainability. She can be reached by email at or by phone at +31 20 435 02 35. “The questions from others who are considering becoming B Corp are diverse. Sometimes they just want to know more about B Corp, or they have specific questions about the procedure, such as how much time a B Corp certification takes and how many people need to be available for it. I really enjoy talking about this and inspiring others. And of course, we also love to hear what projects other companies are running in the area of sustainability. That is also a source of inspiration for us.”  

ImkerAnd the question of whether Manon, as B Keeper, also keeps bees, is one she has got well more than once! In fact, it planted a seed in her mind to enroll in a beekeeping course next year. Who knows, it may even result in a Winclove bee colony and sustainably produced Winclove honey.