CirEkon and the Chamber of Commerce of Serbia, supported by Climate KIC and UNDP have joined forces to create the first stage of a new circular economy era in Serbia. The first event, held this past September, was an Academy for Circular Economy. Before the academy, circular economy was understood to be super recycling. Our challenge was to change that view amongst the small and medium enterprise world to highlight the real transformational potential of CE in the Serbian market.
After 6 months of extensive planning and market research, CirEkon realised that a practitioners guide to CE was necessary. It was essential as a way to answer the key question of: “What is in there for me?”. The answer may seem obvious but for each one of the companies, the benefits meant using different words, different time-scales, different enablers, and so forth. Thus, the 1 month pilot of the Academy of Circular Economy was planned to deliver the very practical basics of the circular economy world to businesses. In terms of the practical basics, business model changes, new modes of analysis (LCA, MFA) and long term systemic planning were deemed the most critical.
Why these? Creating new business models enables companies to actually develop new markets, and consequently create new conditions for different development. If we manage to strategize these new business models in circular fashion, then the new conditions should ripe into circular markets. With regard to the analysis, LCA and MFA methodologies are not as widely known in Serbia. These analytical methods were viewed as expensive. However, highlighting the true benefits of LCA and MFA towards cost savings, providing alternatives and new customers, more efficient supply chains, etc was of real value to the participants.
Thirty participants were accepted for the first pilot round and got an average grade 4.76 (out of max 5), which was unseen before on the Serbian market, especially in the SME sector where traditional business rules still prevail. A small community has since been formed with the intention to scale up the academy and spread the word.