Environmental entrepreneurship is an appealing concept to the Senegalese youths. For a few years now, there has been an increase in projects run by young people that aim to improve sanitation, fight pollution and reduce plastic waste. However, the technical support and idea incubation available remain small. 

Willing to fill in that gap, Impact Hub Dakar implemented a circularity programme pilot, making available an opportunity for Senegalese young innovators and entrepreneurs with projects at the idea stage to develop their vision into something concrete and discover the large ecosystem of projects pertaining to their interests.

Named “Wërngël-Bi”, a term in Wolof that translates to “The Circle”, the circularity programme at Impact Hub Dakar supported different entrepreneurs carrying out projects that ranged from eco-construction to ecological toilets. The top 3 projects were qualified for funding opportunities after a Demo Day, where they had the chance to showcase the progress made during the programme.

Meet the Wërngël-Bi entrepreneurs


Josephine Tine, the co-founder of ART-Pesoung, was one of the participants of the initiative. She noticed the lack of sanitation in rural areas, and how it was affecting women and the population at large. In view of the problem, Josephine decided to start a project that consists in creating ecological toilets with soil bricks, and also methanized pits for generating biogas from human excreta. Her solutions not only improve hygiene and sanitation, but also makes wastewater treatable and ready to be used for household watering too. Josephine believes that with this innovation, issues of sanitation in rural areas can be solved while lowering the cost of living with biogas and running water.

Founder of the Cactus Innovation venture, El Hadji Malick Sagne was another participant of the programme. He wants to change how we see agriculture and imagines a world where we cultivate without pesticides or fertilisers, operating only with the natural biogas of plants. His solution is powered by innovating with cactus plants, which are transformed into biogas, then transformed into electricity thanks to a machine fueled by gas, supplying resources for the properties. 

Malick shares about how he has grown through Impact Hub Dakar’s Wërngël-Bi: “Impact Hub has promoted exchanges between entrepreneurs, giving rise to new collaborations as well as a positive climate movement. Furthermore, with the funding obtained, I can confidently develop my project”, he highlights.

Adja Aissatou Diallo, founder of Galle (which means “home” in Pulaar), has chosen the path of eco-construction. Adja wants to build houses by using renewable, biodegradable and available materials such as raw earth, straw and bamboo. These houses will also be self-sufficient by being equipped with a device for collecting rainwater, providing running tap water for the families. Thanks to the support of Impact Hub through the circularity programme, several concepts on business models have been mastered for Galle. Adja adds: “The teamwork has allowed us to see the complementarity of our projects and new relationships were born between different pillars.”

In addition, there were other two projects on the idea-stage that participated in the programme and received great support to develop into prototypes: a consultancy agency for mineral extraction with minimal environmental impact and a project for making bricks out of plastic waste.

All these projects come from the observation of real-life challenges, the desire for change and an innovative spirit, leading to economically feasible solutions and environmental sustainability. Thanks to Impact Hub Dakar, the entrepreneurs are ready to fly and further develop their businesses – and above all, they are ready to contribute to the sustainable transition from the linear to the circular economy in Senegal.

The Circularity Program is part of our broader Environmental Strategy – discover how Impact Hub Global Network is addressing our time’s most pressing issues here.

To learn from already-tested approaches, discover new activities and opportunities to integrate the Circular Economy knowledge into your entrepreneur support programs design and implementation, discover our toolkit!

How can we better support acceleration and incubation efforts to push for the transition from the linear to the circular economy?

Looking to answer that question and with the support of the MAVA Foundation, Accelerate2030 codified Circular Economy (CE) knowledge and best practices from the global Impact Hub network, Switzerland’s CE ecosystem and the Ellen MacArthur Foundation and embedded them into Accelerate2030’s 2021 program. 

If you slept on it, Accelerate2030 is the world’s leading program for entrepreneurial solutions towards the Sustainable Development Goals. They believe in the power of business for transformative change and catalyze innovative startups in emerging and developing economies. 

On their efforts and outcomes to accelerate the transition to a circular economy: in their latest chapter, six countries – China, Croatia, Colombia, Nigeria, Tanzania and Turkey – were selected to pilot and fully integrate the “future proof business” framework of circular economy into their national programs with the aim to provide technical support to green and circular entrepreneurs and foster nascent circular economy ecosystems at the national level. 

Talking about key numbers from the Accelerate2030 Circular Economy program pilots:

  • At the national level, 64 entrepreneurs were selected to take part in the program among more than 450 applicants; 
  • 47% of ventures in pilot countries were women-led, i.e. women make up at least 50% of the leadership team;
  • 98% of participating entrepreneurs increased their knowledge of circular economy throughout the program;
  • 89% of ventures are implementing new circularity principles (65%) or improving upon their existing circularity approach (24%) as a result of the program, including designing out waste, enabling maximum reuse and recycling of their products, avoiding the use of toxic compounds and ensuring energy comes from renewable sources;
  • participating ventures were able to attract over 300,000 USD in total investments from green funders in the past year!

Regarding lessons learned, Accelerate2030 developed a robust capacity building infrastructure and was able to validate the strong interest and need of capacity building on the topic of circular economy as a strategy to combat climate change in developing and emerging economies.

Learn more about the Accelerate2030 participating countries, ventures and stories here.

Circularity is part of our broader Environmental Strategy – discover how Impact Hub Global Network is addressing our time’s most pressing issues here. For more inspiring stories like this, head to our blog.

To learn from already-tested approaches, discover new activities and opportunities to integrate the Circular Economy knowledge into your entrepreneur support programs design and implementation, discover our toolkit!

Circularity has the power to create a more sustainable present and future. At Impact Hub, we are committed to mainstream circular principles across our global network’s business support initiatives, especially incubation and acceleration programs. 

As part of that journey, we ran a pilot programme across different Impact Hubs around the globe dedicated to boosting impact ventures and social entrepreneurs’ capacities to implement circular principles in their own operations and mission. With a main goal to increase the local awareness and know-how for the circular economy, Impact Hub Harare was one of our locations who joined the adventure of running the pilot.

Based in Zimbabwe’s capital, the Impact Hub Harare team selected 11 ventures – mostly social enterprises between startup and growth stages – to join its six-month circularity program. While some of the participants were already “natives” in the theme as they tackle recycling, food and plastic waste, most of them were considered “adopters” (as in still did not have any circular principles embedded in their core, but were willing to do so in order to become more sustainable). This mixture of circular experiences was certainly an ingredient that enriched the sharings and developments along the program.

Beyond developing a circular mindset and circular business models, one of the biggest lessons Impact Hub Harare and the participating ventures seized from this chapter is that relationship building and a supportive ecosystem are fundamental for growth and scaling – one cannot be circular in isolation.

What followed the conclusion of the program was encouraging: the final event saw lots of different stakeholders interested in their work, including the national radio station, and many people have reached out to them to learn more about the next circularity embedding journey steps, including the country’s Ministry of Environment. 

Learn more about the Impact Hub Harare’s circularity program implementation and its participants by watching the videos below:

Circularity is part of our broader Environmental Strategy – discover how Impact Hub Global Network is addressing our time’s most pressing issues here. For more inspiring stories like this, head to our blog.

To learn from already-tested approaches, discover new activities and opportunities to integrate the Circular Economy knowledge into your entrepreneur support programs design and implementation, discover our toolkit!

In June 2022, Impact Hub Barcelona ended on a successful note the first edition of “Raíz”, a programme focused on supporting and incubating startups and new companies that want to integrate circularity principles into their business models and value propositions. 

Over a period of 3 months, Impact Hub Barcelona promoted training on relevant topics – circular economy, impact measurement and management, systems thinking, marketing, sales, etc. – and worked side by side with a team of more than thirty mentors and the five participating entrepreneurs to boost and develop their skills, connections and confidence before going to market.

Meet the 5 participating startups of Raíz’s first edition


The winning project of Raíz’s first edition was
Sustein Material, a startup driven by Simon Gonzalez that addresses the reuse of healthcare waste for construction materials. Did you know that 100% of the sanitary waste discarded in hospitals and health centers ends up in landfills or incinerated? Through his project, Simon says “enough is enough” and proposes to extend the 15 minutes of useful life that these materials usually have by converting them into material for housing construction.

Simon won a membership to Impact Hub Barcelona space for the next few months. ”A great prize”, as he considers that being part of the community throughout the time he participated in the program has been key to the development of his project. “Impact Hub has brought me synergies and new social circles, both with the people who work here, as well as the members of the community with whom I have been able to connect,” he says. 

Ston Agona has also participated in the incubation program, which is an urban sneaker made from recycled and vegan material driven by Sergio Muñoz Fernández. Although his product is not yet on the market, Sergio says that “I have learned to create a narrative about the circularity of our sneakers thanks to Raíz”. 

Led by architect Adriana Rodríguez, another participating venture is Arova Arquitectura, which is an architecture and interior design studio that gives a second life to construction waste. “And in this case, we already have a success story to tell!”, shares Impact Hub Barcelona. “Shortly after finishing the program, Adriana has managed to sign a collaboration agreement with Fundació Roure to manage the waste from her own renovations.” Amazing!

This is Ours is all about renting, monetizing, premiering and having fun. This clothing rental platform of major brands promotes circular fashion and luxury clothing without renouncing to take care of the planet. The project, which has been going on for a while now, was created by Vanessa Filippa Teixeira and accompanied by Eva María Mendoza Díez.

Finally, Midori also participated in the program. A gamification app created by Alejandro Ponce to lead a more circular lifestyle that renounces throwaway practices. Midori is one of the startups in Raíz with the longest success track record and work done. In fact, this is how they were described in El Periódico a few months ago.

Impact Hub Barcelona’s circularity learned lessons


Throughout the program, Impact Hub Barcelona has promoted several events in the framework of the program, organized and coordinated by
Marina Medina Camps, main responsible of Raíz. Their main purpose has been to accompany the five selected startups, as well as creating and disseminating content related to the circular economy. 

Among others, Impact Hub Barcelona organized a round-table discussion entitled Consumption and activism moderated by Gisela Ibáñez, activist for the transformation towards sustainability and chief operations manager at Go Zero Waste. Participants included Sònia Flotats, journalist specialized in sustainability and creator of the fashion and sustainable trends magazine So Good So Cute; Anna Badia, promoter of regenerative agriculture and Llorenç Witty, workshop leader and educator on the ecosocial transition. 

During the event, the involved parties reflected about the lack of information, transparency and mislabeling by big brands, which make it difficult for consumers to make more sustainable and responsible purchases. While governments suggest some policy solutions to these obstacles, there’s an imminent individual challenge: to practice critical consumption incorporating ethical, social and solidarity values. The conception of responsible and conscious companies is fundamental to help people in this individual challenge. In this sense, at Impact Hub Barcelona they aim to accompany entrepreneurs who want to change the world and Raíz has been a triumph on that behalf.

Circularity Tales at Impact Hub Barcelona

If you and your company are also concerned about the future and want to be part of the change, help Impact Hub Barcelona make the second edition of the program a reality!

Circularity is part of our broader Environmental Strategy – discover how Impact Hub Global Network is addressing our time’s most pressing issues here. For more inspiring stories like this, head to our blog.

To learn from already-tested approaches, discover new activities and opportunities to integrate the Circular Economy knowledge into your entrepreneur support programs design and implementation, discover our toolkit!

The world’s population is constantly on the rise, and every year, more and more raw materials are extracted to make products for consumption. These raw materials are finite, and to exacerbate the situation, the used products are largely dumped in various landfills, missing the opportunity for extra value creation, and adding pressure to the environment. What if we all learned from mother nature and her cyclical processes? Adopting a Circular Economy model would allow us to extract less raw materials, add more value to our products, and ‘close the loop’, leaving our environment unharmed. 

What does adopting a Circular Economy model (circularity) look like for entrepreneurs and startups? What if all startup incubators and accelerators took the step towards integrating design principles that foster circularity? How would this impact ventures going through these programs and the environment at large? 

These are some of the questions that the Impact Hub Global Network has been exploring over the past year. From the initial questions, the network moved to testing and piloting with local Impact Hubs. 12 Hubs across Africa, Asia, Europe, and Latin America are integrating circularity into their programs.

Impact Hub Kigali is part of the process and has recently concluded the Circular Economy (CE) Acceleration Program, a unique 6-month program dedicated to enabling startups to become more circular. The CE Acceleration program was supported by the DOEN Foundation, the MAVA Foundation, and the GIZ Digital Transformation Center and was designed to leverage Circular Economy principles in supporting startups or companies to identify and capture new opportunities in their product or service life-cycle that will ultimately lead to the sustainable growth of their circular businesses.

Circularity Tales at Impact Hub Kigali
Representatives from the six selected startups, and Impact Hub Kigali team at the program kick-off session

The pilot program in Rwanda began with a nation-wide call for applications to attract startups and companies interested in becoming more circular. Six startups were selected out of a pool of 50+ applicants. 

Each startup was assigned an individual sustainability coach that supported them to apply CE knowledge in testing out their circular innovations. In addition, they also had access to a series of circularity workshops and training such as product/material journey mapping, circular opportunity identification, circular collaborations, and circular business modeling, as well as access to seed funding to test their circular innovations. 

The program culminated in a circular Demo Day where startups had a chance to showcase their progress and pitch in front of potential partners and investors. The event also brought together relevant circular economy institutions, local partners, practitioners and enthusiasts, and served as an opportunity to network and discuss circular collaborations.

In addition, the pilot aimed to raise circular economy awareness in the country. As part of that commitment, Impact Hub Kigali and the Digital Transformation Center are currently working on building a community of practice around Circular Economy in Rwanda. This is being done through a series of events, workshops, and networking exchanges to bring together circular economy players and enthusiasts – and will keep happening beyond the framework of the program.

The six startups embedding circularity


Regarding their background, the six selected startups came from different sectors – like agriculture, tourism, manufacturing, and health with a technology aspect embedded within some of their business models. Here’s a sneak peak on their work: 

AFLIMBA is a creative space for rural artisans based in Rwanda, whose aim is to elevate the craftsmanship in rural communities and improve the livelihood of rural artisans and, at the same time, elevate their creative and leadership skills to another level as they are bringing to life fine handcrafted bags (called ‘LIMBAGS’).

I thought that I knew so much about the circular economy, but now I realize that I don’t. I like the feeling of not knowing and the opportunity to learn.” – Plante Josue from Aflimba. 

GREENREV GR is a youth-led agribusiness social enterprise. They focus on reducing horticultural harvest losses, as perishable crops and fight against malnutrition by adding micro- nutrient, to improve livelihoods through high profits and diversified nutrient-rich diets. They are interested in vegetables, tubers, fruits and cereals from seed to their processing to improve and modernize the agricultural sector through technological services.

Sanit Wing is a processing and manufacturing industrial company that produces a variety of oils, cosmetics and soaps from raw materials, like avocado. Sanit Wing processes avocado into pure avocado oil, avocado hair cream, avocado vaseline and avocado soap. They produce cold pressed Avocado oil for industrial and Pharmaceutical use, and Organic pesticides free cosmetics that are affordable and custom to customer needs.

We only have one planet. If we waste it today, what will happen tomorrow?” – says Nshimiyimana Alexandre from Sanit Wing.

Kosmotive produces and distributes breathable, non-toxic and super absorbent reusable sanitary pads that last for two years. They offer to all their end-users to bring back all used products they bought from them, and they give them new ones at half the price. They recycle them and make other useful products from used products.

CropTech Ltd is an agri-tech company that provides modern on-farm harvest handling services to maize growers in Rwanda and aid them to access the higher market through provision of transport and logistic services. They have developed a comprehensive on-farm harvest handling service through which they take the dryers at the farmers location and dry the maize harvest in a period of three hours instead of three weeks, and support the farmer to sell that to the high-end market .

Ngozi Naturals is a conservation enterprise that amplifies local plant benefits through manufacturing natural beauty products. They currently manufacture 6 different handmade soaps that are meticulously developed for 4 skin types. All of their products are 100% natural, biodegradable and the packaging is 100% recyclable.

For more information about Impact Hub Kigali’s Circularity Economy Acceleration Program, watch the video below!

To learn more, visit Impact Hub Kigali’s CE Acceleration Program page.

Circularity is part of our broader Environmental Strategy – discover how Impact Hub Global Network is addressing our time’s most pressing issues here. For more inspiring stories like this, head to our blog.

To learn from already-tested approaches, discover new activities and opportunities to integrate the Circular Economy knowledge into your entrepreneur support programs design and implementation, discover our toolkit!

At Impact Hub, we believe in the power of circularity to create a more sustainable present and future. That’s why we are on a path to mainstream circular principles across our global network’s business support initiatives. 

As part of that commitment, we are running a pilot programme across different Impact Hubs around the globe dedicated to boosting impact venture’s capacities to implement circular principles in their own operations and mission. In the latest interview for the Circularity Tales series, which is showcasing great examples from innovators and entrepreneurs who participated in the pilot programme, we spoke with Adriana Uribesalgo. Adriana is the Project Manager of KAFEA.ECO, an Aduna-based (Spain) business dedicated to tackle the waste problem in the coffee industry founded in 2020.

Impact Hub: Adriana, tell us about KAFEA.ECO – what is it about?

Adriana Uribesalgo: KAFEA.ECO’s mission is to find ways to recycle the different waste materials created by the coffee industry, especially coffee capsules. We address all the logistic stages, from the collection of the waste residues, to the recycling and creation of products in an integral way, thus providing a real solution based on the principles of the Circular Economy.


Impact Hub:
In one phrase, what does circularity mean to you?

Adriana Uribesalgo: It means making materials and processes flow without being or generating wastes.


Impact Hub: You participated in the Impact Hub Donostia pilot dedicated to embedding circularity practices into businesses’ practices. How did that go for KAFEA.ECO?

Adriana Uribesalgo: Our project from the beginning was raised in a circular way, so it started from a sustainable base. However, thanks to the program we have been able to outline and improve the different approaches that we had come up with. Above all, we are now going to be more capable of making good measurements and improving our processes.

On a different note, what we enjoyed the most about the program were the modules related to communication and storytelling. It is often difficult to clearly show what we do in circular companies since, as in nature, the Circular Economy is made up of complex interconnected systems that make possible processes through which materials do not end up in landfills but rather that everything is used.

KAFEA-ECO's Project Manager Adriana Uribesalgo

Impact Hub: Thinking about everything you learned throughout this journey, what would you recommend to ventures that would like to follow the same circularity path?

Adriana Uribesalgo: As an industrial company, our recommendation is that, at first, it’s really important to understand how they can create a system through which the materials flow during the entire process/product life, in a way that the waste can become a resource – either for their own or for other nearby industries.


Impact Hub:
Wise advice! Now, when you look to the future of KAFEA.ECO, what do you see? 

Adriana Uribesalgo: For now, our goal is to install our system nationwide – we want to offer our products and circular proposal to all Spanish municipalities. In the future, we hope to be able to expand at a regional level and bring the capsule recycling system to the entire European Union.


Impact Hub:
Any final words for a more circular world? 

Adriana Uribesalgo: In a limited world, a circular system allows us to be in harmony with nature and helps us flow with it. Humanity is an expert in creating waste, and in not taking responsibility. That is why we must be responsible for reversing this effect and turning this problem into a business opportunity that generates green, innovative and competitive employment.

Stay up to date with KAFEA.ECO’s work and next steps by following them on their social media channels.

Circularity is part of our broader Environmental Strategy – discover how Impact Hub Global Network is addressing our time’s most pressing issues here. For more inspiring stories like this, head to our blog.

To learn from already-tested approaches, discover new activities and opportunities to integrate the Circular Economy knowledge into your entrepreneur support programs design and implementation, discover our toolkit!

At Impact Hub, we believe in the power of circularity to create a more sustainable present and future. That’s why we are on a mission to mainstream circular principles across our global network. 

Following up on our talks with Line Didelot from the Greece-based ANKAA Project and Wenceslaus Soka from the Tanzanian PREYO, for our next story on the Circularity Tales series, which is showcasing great examples from innovators and entrepreneurs taking action around the topic, our invitee is Aritz Gartzia Segurola, CEO of EKOMODO. The San Sebastian-based venture is on a mission to help organisations to communicate their environmental commitment through unique and sustainable fashion products; they are creating a better world with style.

Impact Hub: Hi Aritz! Thank you for joining us. First things first, what’s EKOMODO about?

Aritz Segurola: EKOMODO was founded in 2019 and, since then, we seek to empower people and companies to create a better world by designing sustainable products for daily life. We are making better things to make things better.

Our products are governed by three basic principles – the first one is local production, we manufacture with local raw materials and with local suppliers; the second is sustainable materials, we work under the principles of eco-design and the circular economy, minimising waste and using 100% recycled and recyclable materials; the third and last one is social impact, we involve people from groups at risk of exclusion in the preparation, through collaboration with local social workshops.


Impact Hub:
Circular principles seem to be an important factor for EKOMODO’s business model addressed at sustainable fashion. What does circularity mean to you?

Aritz Segurola: For us, circularity is about three main factors. The first one is sustainable materials – we work under the principles of eco-design and circular economy, minimising waste and using 100% recycled materials, that are also 100% recyclable; the second one is local production – we manufacture in proximity, with local raw materials and with suppliers of the region; and the third one is social impact – we involve people from groups at risk of exclusion in the clothing industry, through collaboration and promoting social workshops in the area.

EKOMODO's team

Impact Hub: In one phrase, why is circularity important?

Aritz Segurola: “Nowadays, only 9% of the world is circular – there is a lot to be done yet.”


Impact Hub:
Diving deeper on these topics, you and EKOMODO participated in the Impact Hub Donostia’s pilot programme dedicated to implementing circularity practices into business. So how has this journey been for you? 

Aritz Segurola: The Impact Hub Donostia’s pilot program helped us to understand in depth the different layers of implementing circularity processes into the making of our different products. It’s been especially important for our product design and conception phase. In addition, our main challenge as a new impact-based business was increasing our brand awareness and opening doors in new markets, and the program was key to improving our strategy and overcoming those obstacles. Besides that, the programme’s mentors, the community created around it and the space we had to share reflections and experiences between different companies are worth the highlight. 


Impact Hub:
Thanks for sharing that with us. Talking about sharing, what is the one circular practice that you would recommend for ventures that are starting this journey – not only on the sustainable fashion field – to implement right away?

Aritz Segurola: No doubt that I would recommend for them to go for the ecodesigning process. This is very relevant for any company – in all sectors -, as this is the moment that determines their biggest environmental impact; in fact, 80% of the environmental impact of a product is defined at this stage.

Stay up to date with EKOMODO’s work and next steps – gaining presence in different Spanish markets, and grow around Europe – by following them on their social media channels


Circularity is part of our broader Environmental Strategy – discover how Impact Hub Global Network is addressing our time’s most pressing issues
here. For more inspiring stories like this, head to our blog.

To learn from already-tested approaches, discover new activities and opportunities to integrate the Circular Economy knowledge into your entrepreneur support programs design and implementation, discover our toolkit!

At Impact Hub, we believe in the power of circularity to create a more sustainable present and future. That’s why we are on a mission to mainstream circular principles across our operations, our programmes, our projects and our member’s initiatives. 

To showcase our commitment with that mission, in the latest Circularity Tales series we are presenting great examples from innovators and entrepreneurs who participated in our global pilot programme addressed at embedding circular principles across their ventures. Our invitee of the moment is Ander Alvarez, founder of Irri Sarri

“Your coffee to go, better with Irri Sarri”, that’s their motto. A member of Impact Hub Donostia since 2020, the Spanish venture created in that same year is dedicated to reducing the use and existence of single-use disposable cups, reducing environmental problems related to plastic waste generation.

Irri Sarri - Impact Hub Donostia Circularity Tales

Impact Hub: We appreciate that you’re here to share your circular adventure with us, Ander! To get us started, what exactly does circularity mean to you?

Ander Alvarez: It’s the goal! In nature, there is no such thing as “garbage”, so we must find the way to generate less non recyclable waste and consume more consciously – that’s what circularity is about for us.


Impact Hub:
You participated in the latest Impact Hub Donostia pilot programme dedicated to the implementation of circular practices into your business. Tell us more about it!

Ander Alvarez: Irri Sarri was born to avoid the waste generated by take-away cups. Before participating in the Impact Hub Donostia circularity pilot, we were very focused on our product – the reusable cup. Now, we have the understanding that there is a lot to be done ahead of us and have set specific objectives to work in different phases and with our suppliers. The next steps are clearer now. For instance, we used the programme’s guidance to start dividing our objectives into 3 groups, depending on the level of the processes’ difficulty. We are following the reverse logistic of things, starting by reflecting about what we do in our day to day, until we get to  the origins of the materials we use and making the necessary adjustments.


Impact Hub:
What challenges were you or have you been experiencing in this journey?

Ander Alvarez: Circularity is a very difficult goal to achieve. It is a slow process with many challenges. Impact Hub Donostia is helping us to identify the most important ones for Irri Sarri. We need to work with clear objectives and not lose energy along the way. 

On the other side, the part we enjoyed the most in the programme was when it became clear that many people have the same problems as us. Leading a project is emotionally difficult. There are very good moments and very bad moments almost every day! So we appreciate the mutual support received throughout this journey.

Impact Hub:
Looking at all the learned lessons throughout the programme, which circularity practices to implement or steps to follow would you recommend to other ventures that want to become more sustainable as well?

Ander Alvarez: My advice would be the following: simplify your goals; be honest with the benefit you want to bring to society; and find a solution or adapt a product to tackle the consumption problem. We buy too many things.

simplify your goals; be honest with the benefit you want to bring to society; and find a solution or adapt a product to tackle the consumption problem. We buy too many things”.

Impact Hub: Now shifting the focus to the future, what’s next for Irri Sarri? 

Ander Alvarez: Irri Sarri stays strong in its mission to eliminate single-use cups, especially in offices and places with coffee machines. To achieve this objective in a circular way, we would like to be able to collaborate with committed companies – and fun people, of course!

Stay up to date with Irri Sarri’s work and next steps in this circularity journey by following them on Instagram or by getting in touch with Ander Alvarez

Circularity is part of our broader Environmental Strategy – discover how Impact Hub Global Network is addressing our time’s most pressing issues here. For more inspiring stories like this, head to our blog.

To learn from already-tested approaches, discover new activities and opportunities to integrate the Circular Economy knowledge into your entrepreneur support programs design and implementation, discover our toolkit!

July, 2022 – Along with the Luc Hoffmann Institute and the IUCN Commission on Environmental, Economic and Social Policy (CEESP), we are pleased to announce the winners of the future of conservation NGOs Innovation Challenge.

The Innovation Challenge was launched on 21 April 2022, with the aim of surfacing innovative ideas and solutions that proactively address the deep-rooted issues facing the conservation sector and impacting conservation effectiveness.

Nine innovative ideas have been selected that are challenging dominant conservation narratives, redesigning conservation approaches and reimagining the conservation space to create a more just, equitable and regenerative future. Each of the winning ideas touch upon one or more of the four broad themes, identified collectively during the first phase of “The future of conservation NGOs“ initiative, as areas where change is most needed. The winning ideas represent a wide array of conservation efforts – international, local, rural, and urban – from the coastal communities in Maldives to the urban population in Greece.

The winners will receive €5,000 in prize money and a place in a tailored co-learning and incubation programme with either the Luc Hoffmann Institute, Impact Hub or IUCN CEESP. The collaborative programmes of co-learning and incubation will start this month, with the host institutions working alongside the winners to take their ideas to the next level of implementation or testing.

Click here to see the list of winning ideas.

About the challenge

The Innovation Challenge sought ideas to explore possible futures of conservation NGOs and their new roles in effectively approaching and managing nature conservation work.

The challenge sought solution-driven concepts proactively addressing deep-rooted issues facing the conservation sector such as legacies of discrimination and social and economic inequalities perpetrated by existing power structures and reinforced by entrenched narratives. The challenge was open to anyone, from any sector, experience or background, with a vision for the future of conservation practices and an idea challenging the existing approaches, structures and narratives adversely impacting conservation effectiveness.

A total of 173 ideas from 58 different countries around the world were received. The infographic below shows the geographic spread of the ideas.

Geographic Distribution of Ideas

Future of Conservation NGOs Geographic Distribution of Ideas

All  applications went through a rigorous evaluation process involving a review by a diverse panel with a range of expertise, from community-based conservation and business development to entrepreneurship. The review panel was faced with a tough choice from among many inspiring applications.  The judges were really impressed  by the variety of ideas and potential of the solutions submitted.

“We’ve been delighted by the calibre of the applicants so far, coming from every corner of the world, and are looking forward to harnessing the power of our global community of changemakers to turn these innovators’ dreams into reality,” said Bruno Lacey, Programme Manager at Impact Hub.

Congratulations to the winners!

As we celebrate the winning ideas, we also celebrate the vibrant community of innovators and entrepreneurs who applied to the challenge and of thought-leaders who helped establish the challenge themes and stand poised to help take the ideas forward. All have displayed the ability to take risks, think out of the box, collaborate and lead in ways that create more value for people and the planet.

July 2022 – Social and Technological Innovation Factory for Low-Carbon and Circular Industrial Value Chains, or SoTecIn Factory, is a new project funded by the European Commission’s Horizon Europe programme.

The consortium led by INESC TEC, composed by 5 other European partners – Impact Hub, F6S, BWCON, Metabolic and CNR, who teamed up to achieve their common mission for a more resilient and sustainable industry.

Started in June 2022, SoTecIn Factory aims to bring systemic change by connecting industry and technology providers to the community of mission-based social innovators. Moreover, the project offers a 3.3 million EUR equity-free fund and capacity-building support to social innovations that improve the circularity of key product value chains. New solutions for Electronics and ICT, Batteries and Vehicles, Packaging, Plastics, Construction and Buildings, Textiles, Food, Water and Nutrients will be nurtured, as defined by the EU Circular Economy Action Plan. Specifically, the focus is put on restructuring value chains by implementing higher value “Rs”, i.e. reuse, repair, refurbish and remanufacture.

The originality of the project is also mirrored in the role of the transnational SoTecIn Factory Community, which will engage its members in rethinking the process of value chains towards decarbonisation and circularity. Through 7 Regional Hubs distributed in 20+ European countries, this community will bring together a diverse range of industry actors to design and steward value chain-based missions relevant for their regional economic systems.  Afterwards, the industry players will present real-life challenges and sustainability issues that require innovative solutions.

SoTecIn Factory will then launch two open calls for social innovators which will award 50 tech-savvy researchers, SMEs and startups with 15k EUR for their ideas. From this group, 30 innovators will engage in a pre-market technological demonstration with additional 85k EUR funding support.

Furthermore, social innovators can also expect capacity-building support from mentors who will be gathered in regional stewardship councils. In fact, SoTecIn Factory aims to further the mission of social innovators by embedding steward-ownership governance models.

“SoTecIn Factory will rethink the circular potential of value chains by the promotion of green technological solutions implemented by social innovators. The project aims to re-connect industry and society, improving the resilience and sustainability of the European industry.” – says Gustavo Dalmarco from INESC TEC, Project Coordinator.

During a 36 months timespan, the SoTecIn Factory consortium is looking forward to uniting industry members through several pan-European networking mashups and workshops, as well as to shaping scalable solutions with circularity-based business models throughout 2 Open Calls for social innovators in 2023 and 2024.

For more information and to subscribe to the project newsletter, please visit www.sotecinfactory.eu.

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon Europe research and innovation programme under the Grant Agreement 101058385. Views and opinions expressed are, however, those of the authors only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union or European Commission. Neither the European Union nor the granting authority can be held responsible for them.