In late 2018, the Social Enterprise Academy Hub in Lusaka, Zambia had a very special visitor, the Duke of Sussex, Prince Harry. Our Learning Coordinator and social ‘eco-prenuer’ Radhia Mtonga recalls the visit and the brief chat she had with the Duke regarding the circular economy.
By late 2018, the circular economy had become one of the most trending buzz words in the social enterprise space. Almost every environmental campaign, article or piece of research referred to the circular economy in one way or the other.
Even though most budding social entrepreneurs, including myself, didn’t know exactly what it meant, I knew three things. One of them was that the circular economy had a lot to do with the environment. The second thing was that my social enterprise, Ulubuto was building a solution that encouraged the reduction and reuse of waste, particularly singly-sue plastic. The third and probably the most exciting was that BongoHive, the hub that housed the Social Enterprise Academy programme where I worked, was receiving a visit from the Duke of Sussex, Prince Harry.
Motivated by these facts, I decided to do some research. Three hours on the free resource that is the internet, I learned the circular economy was more than just an environmental protection advocacy term. The concept, that dated back to the 1960’s, is an economic system that looks beyond the current take-make-waste extractive industrial linear economy model. The circular economy’s objective is to produce goods and services in a sustainable way, by limiting the consumption and waste of resources (raw materials, water, energy) as well as the production of waste. The world is currently steering towards the circular economy as we are running out of natural resources to exploit and the pollution levels are crippling the environment.
Linear vs Circular Economy
I was excited! I had just acquired knowledge on the circular economy and it being in my wheelhouse I was ready to share this with anyone. I was not expecting anyone to be The Duke of Sussex Prince Harry. The Duke of Sussex finally visited BongoHive in November 2018. He toured and had discussions with the present entrepreneurs within BongoHive community. The tour finally settled on social enterprises and immediately the discussion steered towards the circular economy. When my social enterprise was singled out, I was ready, thanks to my research.
I briefly explained what my social enterprise was about and what challenges I faced, such as shifting mindsets as recycling was not widely implemented in Zambia. The Duke of Sussex gave insight on how the circular economy has been a difficult thing to embrace in Great Britain and the world over. It was a difficult task we have at hand he said, but it was not impossible. He gave examples of how other social enterprises in the United Kingdom and some in other parts of Africa are doing similar work. He also applauded the efforts of programmes such as The Social Enterprise Academy for the support offered to enterprises that drive sustainability and social good.
As the world’s resources are rapidly depleting and we can no longer sustain the linear economy model. The circular economy model fits directly into the more general framework of sustainable development. A holistic approach to this would be to have be entrepreneurs that produce goods and services in a sustainable way.
Get in touch to find out how the Social Enterprise Academy can support you and your organization transition to a sustainable model of impact.