The Municipal Pharmaceutical Company of the Municipality of Florence is the first public-private joint-venture company to become a Benefit Corporation.
In 1952 the Municipality of Florence started the A.FA.M. Municipal Pharmaceutical Company with the purchase of a private historical pharmacy and its transformation into the municipal pharmacy no. 1.
In 2016 the majority shareholding is acquired by Apoteca Natura S.p.A., a network of pharmacies specialised in self-medication, prevention and natural products, belonging to the Aboca Group, an important company in Tuscany recognized internationally as a leader in therapeutic innovation based on natural molecular complexes.
In addition to dealing with the management of municipal pharmacies and dispensing drugs, the company is active in the promotion, participation and collaboration in preventive medicine, information and health education programmes and professional updating, guaranteeing the performance of social and health services entrusted to it by the municipal administration.
On 20th of March 2018 A.FA.M. became the first public-private joint-venture company in Europe, and the first pharmacy network in the world, to become formally a Società Benefit (Benefit Corporation), according to a recent legislation (Italian Law n. 208/2015). The company has changed its legal status to reaffirm its commitment towards the social wellbeing and health of the community.
To become a Benefit Corporation the company have to amend its Articles of Association by including in the object clause the aims of common benefit. Moreover, it needs to identify one or more impact manager with the tasks of pursuing the common benefit and reporting regarding the activities.
Evidence of success
Even if the practice is too recent to be properly assessed there are already some evidences of a potential positive impact. The A.FA.M.’s Article of Association includes the commitment to pursue several collective impacts, such as: the opening 24/7 of three pharmacies to offer complete coverage of the territory; the ongoing integration with universities, hospitals and other institutions to foster research; the support for disadvantaged groups for the free dispensation of medicines.
Potential for learning or transfer
On 28th December 2015, Italy became the first European state creating a new legal status for companies, called “Società Benefit” (in the US, Benefit Corporation). A Società Benefit is a company which combines the goal of profit with the purpose of creating a positive impact for society and the environment and which operates in a transparent, responsible and sustainable way.
A Società Benefit is neither a social enterprise nor a non-profit organisation, but rather an evolution of the concept of for-profit business to take on the challenges of the 21st century and bring about common benefits both for society and the environment.
Today, only 34 States in the US, Colombia and Italy have made a legal status out of the Benefit Corporation concept. At European Level there are political movements trying to create a common Statute for Social and Solidarity-based enterprises. Similar floor should be given for a joint legislation over the Benefit Corporations.
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