The role of customization in the circular economy
Ups and downs
Lidwina is an organization from the Kempen employing people who have mild occupational disabilities. As a customization company, flexibility is their greatest asset, while forming their greatest challenge at the same time. The division of work in particular is a daily juggling act.
Why exactly? Lidwina is active in a number of different markets – for instance, Wood, Needlework, Food and Green. That means it’s also highly dependent on the developments and economic conditions in these markets. Due to the seasonal nature of the Food and Green business units in particular, the employment rate also has to contend with a winter dip.
In addition to this, Lidwina employs an average of one hundred employees on site at several customers locations across a variety of sectors, depending on what their weekly requirements are.
Lidwina’s opinion: why not try and find activities that could make up for that dip? They were especially looking for new, innovative activities, with sustainability as a point of focus. Transitioning from a linear economy to a circular one immediately became the priority.
Customization based on the circular economy
This makes sense. A circular model creates new employment demands and opportunities. A customization company like Lidwina can easily meet these needs by, for example, closing certain material loops, which is why Lidwina requested Möbius and VITO’s help with identifying market opportunities and contacts in the circular economy’s field of activity. We prioritized activities of a seasonal nature that we could match to Lidwina’s profile.
Lidwina needed to be capable of further developing and launching one or more specific business cases by the end of this process.
How did we go about it?
We started the task with an exploratory phase as preparation for the technical development and implementation of new business models.
This three-part phase was set up as a co-creation process between the Lidwina staff concerned and circular economy stakeholders.
To get their feet wet, everyone started out being immersed in an inspirational session that included a brainstorming session on the circular economy. The sessions especially gave us the opportunity to thoroughly and systematically explore the options open to the social economy, and Lidwina in particular.
In part two of the phase we took our study to a deeper level. We took a look at the possibilities of creating a hybrid social-circular model and interviewed a number of other social entrepreneurs and friendly competitors.
Step 3 was mainly focused on developing concrete coalitions with other organizations and designing business cases. We organized specific work sessions and arranged a customer event to promote the development of new ideas on and discussion about new opportunities for collaboration.
We’ve closed the loop.
With a fresh set of ideas and solid, reliable contacts, Lidwina will be able to start up several circular business cases once the project is finished. The result was that it didn’t take us long to find some interesting and promising opportunities for Lidwina to partner on in the area of vertical farming, for example acting as a matchmaker in the sector or as a facilitator of a new product or service model for clothing.
With their complementary knowledge and expertise, Möbius and VITO gave us an in-depth introduction to the circular economy. Thanks to their open-mindedness and coaching approach, we were able to work with our stakeholders to further develop ideas that were already in the works and tap into new opportunities.