Episode 47 Joanna Bingham of Footprints Africa

Episode 47 Joanna Bingham of Footprints Africa

Joanna Bingham, the founding CEO of Footprints Africa, is focussed on using the circular economy to support sustainable, scalable and inclusive approaches to the development of local African economies.

Joanna is also a founding partner of the CE360 Alliance, and leads the Ghana chapter for the African Circular Economy Network. She studied at Bradford University, the first degree-level circular economy course, supported by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation. Through Footprints Africa, Joanna runs a 6-month B-Corp programme to support SMEs who are positive about improving their environmental and social impact. Having worked in the investment industry for 9yrs, Joanna says “she is schooled in critical analysis and scepticism and is passionate about embedding social purpose in everyday activity.”

We talk about how the circular economy has huge potential to uplift people from poverty and to create meaning, how there are two ways of engaging with the circular economy – out of necessity, and to innovate – and how Footprints Africa’s B Corp programme supports entrepreneurs.

Podcast host Catherine Weetman is a circular economy business advisor, workshop facilitator, speaker and writer.  Her award-winning book: A Circular Economy Handbook: How to Build a More Resilient, Competitive and Sustainable Business includes lots of practical examples and tips on getting started.  Catherine founded Rethink Global in 2013, to help businesses use circular, sustainable approaches to build a better business (and a better world).

Stay in touch for free insights and updates…

Read on for a summary of the podcast and links to the people, organisations and other resources we mention.

You can subscribe to the podcast series on iTunes, Google Podcasts, PlayerFM, Spotify, TuneIn, or search for “circular economy” in your favourite podcast app.  Stay in touch to get free insights and updates, direct to your inbox…

Links we mention in the episode:

Circular Economy Podcast Episode 47 Joanna Bingham of Footprints Africa

About Joanna Bingham

Joanna is focussed on using the circular economy to support sustainable, scalable and inclusive approaches to development of local African economies. Joanna is the founding CEO of Footprints Africa, founding partner of the CE360 Alliance, and leads the Ghana chapter for the African CE Network.

She studied at Bradford University, the first degree-level circular economy course, supported by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation. Through Footprints Africa, Joanna runs a 6 month B-Corp programme to support SMEs who are positive about improving their environmental and social impact. Having worked in the investment industry for 9yrs, Joanna says “she is schooled in critical analysis and scepticism and is passionate about embedding social purpose in everyday activity.”

Interview Transcript

Provided by AI – add 2 mins 42 secs for the finished episode

Catherine Weetman  00:01

Today we’re talking to Joanna Bingham, who is the founding CEO of Footprints Africa, founding partner of the CE 360 Alliance, and leads the Ghana chapter for the African Circular Economy Network. Joanna uses the circular economy to support sustainable, scalable and inclusive approaches to development of local African economies. Joanna studied at Bradford University, the first degree level circular economy course, supported by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation. Through Footprints Africa, Joanna also runs a six month B Corp programme to support SMEs who are positive about improving their environmental and social impact. Having worked in the investment industry for nine years, Joanna says she’s schooled in critical analysis and scepticism and is passionate about embedding social purpose in everyday activity. Joanna, it’s great to finally get you on the podcast. And I’m curious to know what led you to the circular economy in the first place?

Joanna Bingham  01:02

It’s lovely to be here. Thank you so much for having me on. So as you mentioned, I was working in the investment industry. And I worked for a fantastic organisation that was very passionate about sustainability. And in a very pragmatic way. So they, they spent a lot of time trying to understand what that really meant for companies. But I was always curious about what more could be done. And so I spent a lot of time casting around looking at impact investing, looking at different forms of philanthropy. And I went to a talk in London, with a gentleman called Jamie Butterworth, who was the founding CEO of circularity, capital. And I just heard him speak. And you know, when you just have one of those moments, you’re like, this is what I’ve been waiting for. He was talking about circular economy. And so afterwards, I went up to him, and I said, “How can I learn more about this? And how can you know, I must know more.” And he pointed me in the direction of the circular economy, MBA at Bradford. And so that’s how I started that journey. So I started, I only did the post grad elements. And that was the start of the journey for me.

Catherine Weetman  02:04

Excellent. And I am, I smiled when you said Jamie Butterworth, because it looks like I might be about to get him onto the podcast as well. So fantastic. having a chat soon. So you did the postgraduate at Bradford and got to know much more about the circular economy. And then how did that lead to coming up with the ideas for the work that you now do in Africa?

Joanna Bingham  02:28

So they happened in parallel, as I mentioned, I was working for a fantastic investment company. And I was focused on investing in low income markets, and particularly in Sub Saharan Africa, we had the opportunity to visit a lot of these economies and speak to senior figures, senior business figures, and understand their investment strategies and hear about there was a lot of corporate spin about emerging middle classes and providing goods and services to the poor. And I was just very curious about what the real impact was of these of these businesses, and how inclusive it was. And I was always sort of searching for something more, I was aware that charity isn’t going to solve all the world’s problems, but also that business left to its own devices isn’t either. And the organisation I worked for was just incredibly flexible. They allowed me to explore different topics. And I spent a year seconded to an amazing organisation called the wood foundation. And they were taking they called it venture philanthropy approach to supporting smallholder farmers in the tea industry in East Africa, to improve their livelihoods. And they did it through a whole value chain approach. So looking at everything from from government, to processing factories, farmers, associations, educational institutions, and bringing all of them together to improve the tea industry, and really, for the benefit of the most vulnerable, but it’s very much a commercial approach. So it was a fascinating year for me, I learned so much from them. But I was I became incredibly passionate about supply chains, and the role of supply chains and the fact that you know, from the clothes we wear, the food we eat, this is Touching the poorest of the poor potentially, and then really reaching into far flung corners of the world. And so therefore, it has a potential to to uplift. And it also has a potential to be incredibly extractive. So from that journey and looking at supply chains, I became very curious about how you could redress some of the power imbalances in supply chains and support local suppliers to be able to adopt some of the global best practices with regards labour practices and environmental standards but also to have to be able to to be able to have more pricing power and to be able to have more just just just more of a seat at the table, really. That was the genesis and then from there, that led to me setting up Footprints. So the idea was to work with local suppliers, and see how we could help them to improve, to adopt better social environmental practices. And so get into and be able to be in multinational supply chain and global supply chains without being exploited.

Catherine Weetman  05:21

So is it a combination of the two things then improving the way that people farm or produce materials and products in the first place? And also, and at the same time, helping to address the the power balances, as you mentioned? And kind of, you know, how, how do you help them do that? Is it is it just by becoming more attractive as a supplier because they’re taking all the sustainability boxes for the customer? Or is it other things like fair trade or kind of trading cooperatives, that kind of thing.

Joanna Bingham  06:00

It’s a mixture of things, one of the things I’m very aware of is that I am a white woman working in Africa. And I think it’s really important to know my place. And I think my understanding of my place is that I have a certain platform due to my privilege. And therefore, my role is to give access via that platform. And so I don’t want to I’m cautious about being too deterministic about what the route is. So one of the reasons why we run a B Corp programme, and we’ve chosen that framework is because it has a lot of global best practice embedded in but it allows companies themselves to choose what makes sense for them, and to identify the priorities that they want to work on. So for example, some of the kind of, in the workers pillar of the of the B call the B impact assessment, it talks a lot about LGBTQ. For some companies in Ghana, that’s just a step too far, they’re very Christian. And that’s not something they’re gonna prioritise it, it’s not for me to tell them what they should be doing. But they may feel very passionate about the environment. And about, for example, as you mentioned, resources and materials and waste. And so that’s the area that they might focus on. So that’s, that’s the approach we’re trying to take by, by offering tools that we think can be useful for them, but also not trying to impose any views on how they should be doing things.

Catherine Weetman  07:33

And how just coming back to the power balance between particularly small producers and you know, large global brands, who might be the end customer, there are other ways of changing the power balance, you know, like trying to negotiate fair trade agreements, or, you know, getting a number of suppliers together other things that you learnt from that Wood Foundation tea project.

Joanna Bingham  08:00

Yeah, it’s a really interesting one. And it’s complex and challenging. One of the one of the biggest challenges is, is the kind of language each of them speaks. And that could be literally the language as in, you know, whether you speak Swahili or English, but that could also be just the corporate jargon that you use that is very inaccessible to, you know, a local food producer. And so I think access to information and understanding of concepts and terminology is is one way to help with that power balance. With regards organisation, I think a lot of it depends on the buyer themselves, and how willing they are to listen and their contract contracting and procurement processes. And so the work we do is more with the SMEs at the moment with the with the local suppliers themselves, and less so with the buyers, but it’s something that we’d like to move into, because a lot of those buyers really want to localise their supply chains, and they want to have less inputs when they’re working in and when that went with their operations in those countries. And so they do want to develop their suppliers, but for kind of language and understanding reasons, they may be not necessarily able to do so they may not understand some of the challenges. See, you can hear often kind of a lot of criticisms like oh, you know, these local suppliers. They’re lazy, or they never turn up on time or they’re unreliable, but actually, you know, the local supplier has completely unreliable his power supply or the supplier who was supplying them didn’t give them the goods they needed, or the roads, you know, it rained and the roads were unusable so they couldn’t get the goods to them. So there’s lots of kind of, there’s a kind of brokering role that needs to be done to help them to get on the same page. And there are lots of examples of where that’s been done successfully. So I think that’s for us would be the next step to look at how we can support brokering that relationship a little bit better and support those companies who are really keen and curious to develop their local suppliers to do so. And I would love to reorient the B Corp programme to work with a specific supply chain for a multinational, for example. So any multinationals listening who are ready.

Catherine Weetman  10:10

Yeah, that sounds interesting. And I think that that would be a really good way, wouldn’t it to kind of flush out some of the barriers and blockages and gaps, stopping things working more smoothly and symbiotically together.

Joanna Bingham  10:26

There’s some really interesting examples of supplier development programmes where multinationals have or large, local corporates have offered tiered programmes for their suppliers to a smaller supplier where maybe it’s riskier to start working with them, I think this can really work translate into kind of when we touch upon that transition circular economy. But for example, a small company who is maybe more risky for them to start, let’s say it’s a local supermarket stocking on their shelves, they’ll give them a small contracts, they’ll pay them very quickly. So that, you know, they’ll have challenges working capital, they might even give them a little like a small working capital loan to help them produce and expand their capacity, they’ll give them mentoring and support from their procurement managers, and access to just the resources that they have to help the suppliers to develop and if those suppliers are able to, you know, to meet the criteria and the volumes and the milestones they set for them, they extend that and they will purchase a bit more, but they will pay them maybe a little bit later. So there’s like some really nice ways that they can support suppliers to get to the level that they need them to be. Because at the moment, the chasm between where they want a local supplier to be versus where a supplier is, is just too huge. And I was speaking to one multinational and they were saying they think that it would cost a local supplier in Ghana 20,000 euros just to get in just to meet all the requirements in terms of safety and certifications and all these different aspects. And that’s a huge amount of money for a company to be able to invest upfront just to be able to have the opportunity to bid for work for a company.

Catherine Weetman  11:59

Yeah, wow. It’s shocking. And so can you give us an example of the kind of project that you’ve been involved in in in Ghana, and setting up Footprints Africa.

Joanna Bingham  12:11

So there’s two major things that we’re working on at the moment. So one is the vehicle programme, which we’ve  touched on. So this is where we work with local organisations in the catering in the waste sectors in Ghana. And we take them through the B Impact Assessment, which is B Corp’s sort of core framework. And we help them to identify the changes that they want to make in their organisation and set them up with an action plan. And then over a six month period, we have a series of workshops that they go through, which are kind of more technical, bringing in local experts, and we really focus on local expertise. So we do we start with a theory of change programme, which helps them to identify the change that they want to see through the work that they’re doing, and how they link their organisational practices from their operations to their kind of staff goals to that change. So that might be you know, we’re working with organisations that want to empower female waste pickers to clean up waste from the streets. We’re working with organisations that work with local farmers to provide highly nutritious catering, and they’re providing farmer development programmes as well as part of the work they’re doing. So they’re kind of purpose led organisations and they have this clear kind of ethos, but maybe the full team doesn’t understand that. So through that first workshop, we get everyone on board with understanding what the what the organisation is driving for, and making sure that everything they do reinforces that, then we bring in lawyers to help them with the kind of business requirements, compliance, governance, contracting, all the legal stuff that is often quite inaccessible. And things like having a board and stuff that will really, really help them, we then have a section on employee engagement and staff development, which is really, really important, culturally, which we can talk about culture in a bit. And then we have a section on the informal sector, which is something that is very, it’s so critical, and it’s, I’d love to talk in more detail about it. But in Ghana, depending on which statistic you believe 80 to 90% of all people in employment in inverted commas are employed in the informal sector, which means they have no security, you know, that kind of under the radar of the system. And so how these, all of these companies are working with the informal sector in some way or another, and so working with them to help that help them improve that relationship, to make it a mutually beneficial relationship. And then for companies who get through the whole programme, they are eligible to apply for a grant and we help them with that process. So we were always focused on skills building and we do a kind of a deep dive into how to do project planning feasibility studies. Monitoring and Evaluation setting targets resourcing, to help them write really decent grant proposals. So that even if we don’t award them the grant, eventually they will have the opportunity of a kind of a prepared project with feedback on it that they can take to other funders. So that’s a beautiful programme. Yeah. Yeah. So that’s our B Corp programme. And then I don’t know if you want to talk about that anymore, or whether he talked about the other programme.

Catherine Weetman  15:25

Yeah, let’s hear about the other – The other programme that – though I think the B Corp thing sounds really good and really comprehensive. And, you know, I’m really interested in that as a as a kind of, you know, it’s much more kind of company led, and nobody’s trying to just tick certain boxes, it’s about what really matters to the company and all the people in it. So, yeah, I think that, yeah, that’s it.

Joanna Bingham  15:52

And it’s a very interesting tool for if we’re thinking about the transition to a circular economy, one of the first places is kind of mindset and behaviour change, and the B Corp movement is is amazing for that. So the other, the other aspect that we are working on, which is specifically focused on circular economy is, is with regards mapping out initiatives across the African continent, who are embedding sector economy principles in in their business models. And this came from so too, we have two core focuses one is, is sustainable development in programmes around sustainable development. And then the other is education, and research activities. So we’ve participated in so many conferences and webinars and, you know, seminars and workshops and panel events and whatever, on circular economy. You know, it’s definitely becoming the hot topic. But it feels very conceptual, and the response and the reception has been great. It’s not, it’s not a challenging concept to understand. Companies are really interested to see how they can embed those principles and the kind of key questions but what does this look like for me, and a lot of these examples I’m seeing are from Europe or from America, and they don’t don’t recognise this context. And so what we wanted to do was to show what amazing work is happening on the African continent. And obviously, notwithstanding fact, it’s, it’s, we’re not ignorant to the fact that Africa is not one country. And the contexts are different, but they do have some shared challenges. And that is something inspirational for a company working in Ghana to see someone in Kenya who’s done something similar. And so we have collected, I believe we have, we have a long list of around 160 examples, and then we set up a questionnaire for organisations to fill in about their initiative, I think we have about 69 respondents, and then we’ve done a really deep dive into 23 of those. And we’ve had support from an organisational an organisation called GRID Arendal, which came through the African circular economy network we’re partnering with on this project. And they, they have mapped these cases on to a geo located map, which is online, and then that has a link to, to the cases that we’ve written up. And so we will be publishing a report on that this week, hopefully, which is very exciting. And then we intend to, to kind of make to expand that project from there. And there’s a lot of there’s a lot we can do from that. But the main piece now is just to give a bigger platform to those who are doing great work and to inspire others to see what is possible with what’s available. And also what I would love is to influence a bit more the global dialogue on secular economy with this different context and show how it can be interpreted and must be interpreted for different contexts.

Catherine Weetman  18:54

Yeah, I think I think helping people see relevant examples is, you know, one of the key ways forward to inspire people in in one country or one region, that they’re looking at something else, you know, if that happens there, it could, you know, it could work for us here. And also, I think one of the main barriers to expanding the circular economy at the moment, is the lack of supply chain. So, you know, if you want to replace your finite extracted material with a recycled one, how are you going to buy it? Does it exist? And who are you gonna buy it from? So yeah, kind of all that information, the sooner we get that out there, and the sooner people start to join up the dots then. Yeah, and I think faster things can happen.

Joanna Bingham  19:42

It’s absolutely true. And I don’t know about you, but I, I don’t find it engaging when someone tells me stuff. You know, if someone just sits there and lectures me about concepts, it’s boring. Whereas if you tell me the story of an organisation and I can see how someone has done something, the journey they’ve been on the mistakes they’ve made. And how they’ve had to iterate, you know that that is going to stay with me. And it feels like something that I could emulate or learn from. So I just think the way that we educate is, is changing so much. And so one of the things that we’re really we’ve been talking to GRID ARENDAL, about is, is putting together training materials and using these case studies as training materials. And it’s something that we do already in our vehicle programme is training through case studies, because, you know, a lot of the entrepreneurs we work with, maybe haven’t been to university, I don’t know how far through school, they went. They’re smart people, they’ve got really strong business acumen, but they just, they, you know, tell me how I can make it work. They don’t want to know the concepts and the theory.

Catherine Weetman  20:40

Yeah, I think I think you’re right, and there are just so many ways that we can use people’s stories to help make the case, you know, it’s much, much more believable, isn’t it? If you can see that? Here’s this business doing it and and, you know, it’s profitable. And it’s, you know, it’s got loyal customers and loyal suppliers, and therefore, it’s a viable business, it’s not just a theory that might or might not work. And so you said, Joanna, that the circular economy is a hot topic in Africa, but it’s all a bit conceptual. So are people enthusiastic about it, do they see it as a as a way to move forward and miss out a lot of the issues of what we now call the linear economy?

Joanna Bingham  21:27

I think that there’s two types, there’s two types of people in the world. There’s two types of kind of people engaging in the circular economy. So there are and I forget someone, some, I’m using someone else’s terminology, so apologies for not referencing them. But there are those who are who are who are operating in a circular way through necessity. So they have scarce resources, they, you know, you can get anything repaired and gone, I feel like if something’s broken, I just have to find someone who knows someone who put me to someone who will be able to repair it. So those practices are just much more commonly adopted and, you know, traditional practices of using banana leaf to wrap your food and for example, when you get takeout rather than plastic, a lot of those things exist. But then there’s this kind of circular economy by, by innovation, by what I mean, they’re both innovation, but and, and it’s more known as a concept of thinking about, okay, how do I embed circular economy principles and as a knowledge of circular economy. And both exist. So with regard to those who, who are learning about the circular economy, there is a lot of excitement. There’s, there’s definitely a desire, especially among young people to have meaning in their roles and to make a difference in the in the community around them. Since there’s a lot of youth led activism, and an idea of kind of entrepreneurship as a root out of any of problems, be those environmental or monetary? So yeah, so I think for those who are learning about it, they’re excited, they’re enthusiastic about it. But like I said, it just needs to be made more real and more practical and more pragmatic. And we need to be careful that the agenda isn’t dominated by those who have something to lose from it. So for example, I think there is a lot of conversation about recycling. And recycling is not circular economy, recycling is a potential strategy that you can adopt as kind of a last resort for materials that you can’t do anything else with. But it in itself is not circular economy. And so there’s a lot of organisations who are wary of shifting their business models for good reasons, because it’s risky, but for whom the circular economy and having to be more careful about the materials they use, it is risky. And so, you know, there are some multinationals, for example, who really want to put recycling at the front of the agenda and cool that circular economy. And so there’s, there’s a real risk there that a lot of investments are made in large scale pyrolysis, for example. So melting down stuff for energy, rather than thinking about how you can repair and recover and re manufacture. So I think that’s, that’s kind of one trends that we’re definitely seeing and that we’re conscious of, and, you know, with good reason, as well, because waste is a massive challenge. And the infrastructure to manage it is, is lacking. And so that poses a lot of health and safety and pollution challenges, which governments would really love to have a one size fits all solution to. So it’s a seductive route to go, but I think we just need to be careful because there is a huge opportunity for that kind of, I forget the fancy term, but the kind of the innovation leap where, for example, I mean, you see in banking, for example, in in Ghana and Kenya, for example, they have a lot of mobile banking, so don’t even have bricks and mortar banking anymore. They’ve been able to leap through that innovation, which we can’t wait, you know?

Catherine Weetman  25:03

Yeah, the kind of leapfrog idea. But yeah, you’re right. And I think, you know, there’s all this discussion about the needing a just transition, and there is a danger with, you know, kind of talking about, well, we can just recycle things, you know, like replacing glass bottles for which there was probably quite a good recycling infrastructure anyway, and glass can be recycled, you know, endlessly apparently. And, you know, just kind of saying, well, we’ll replace it with plastic, because that saves us a lot of money and logistics, and don’t worry, it’s recyclable. But those recyclable where, exactly, and those companies are not being asked to put the investment into the infrastructure to create the recycling network. So it just ends up being, you know, yet another problem, doesn’t it? So in terms of what you’ve learnt so far, with your involvement in in the B Corp programme and talking to people about how to bring the circular economy into their business, what would your top tip be, for anybody looking to go circular? or start something circular?

Joanna Bingham  26:18

Great question. So I think, a couple of things, one is protect your cash flow. Because if you can’t afford to run your core business, then you, you know, you can’t afford to innovate. So I think making sure that your cash flow is protected, and then giving space to innovate in a kind of iterative way. So small prototypes, you know, the kind of the, kind of, remember the word, 

Catherine Weetman  26:51

Jugaad or frugal innovation, or maybe

Joanna Bingham  26:54

Any of that! But, but the trendy stuff is actually very, very simple. So you know, work out what area you want to make a difference in, and then try it in a small way, basically, and, and then Next, find awesome partners that you can work with to do it. So I think some of the challenges in in some African context is that you kind of, you have to do everything. So either you mentioned around supply chains, for example, if you want to use innovative materials, or if you want to use regenerative materials, they don’t exist. So then you find yourself suddenly going and becoming a regeneration material manufacturer just because you wanted to build a roof. So, so I think finding, finding partners who can who can pick off different pieces of the puzzle, and working with them together is as powerful. And I think, you know, for those, it’s really hard to get funding and get support for that innovative stage. And I think part of the challenges, sometimes those who do get support for that innovative stage ended up being reliant on that support and not and not focusing on the commerciality. So I think it’s so important that that this that there isn’t that donor dependence, and there isn’t that grand dependence, that there’s always an item, making it commercially viable, in whatever way as possible.

Catherine Weetman  28:15

Really three tips there. Thank you very much for that. So it’s clear from the, you know, the conversation so far, and what are now about the work that you’ve that you’ve done that you have a very strong set of values. So which of those values would you like to share with, you know, aspiring circular entrepreneurs in terms of being being important in in work and life?

Joanna Bingham  28:45

I think it has to be around listening. So the, we have a rally around getting into the trenches in our organisation. But just really understanding those around you and making sure you’re listening. We look a lot at human centred design approaches. And I think, you know, Alexandre Lemille, who is one of the cofounders of the African Circular Economy Network, and he talks about the human-sphere and how we talk about technical resources and biological resources, but we don’t necessarily talk about the human element. And circular economy has a huge potential to create uplift, you know, out of poverty, but also to create meaning for people because working for an organisation that stands for something it is so has such a different it has such a transformation in your life and working with some of the companies that we do and seeing the change in mindsets and the kind of engagement of the staff of the companies that we’re working with is so amazing and often it comes from them listening to each other and hearing each other better.

Catherine Weetman  29:58

Yeah. That’s brilliant. And I’ll put a link to Alex in the show notes as well, because he’s written quite a bit about the Humansphere, as he calls it. And yeah, I think I think you’re right there is that potential to create uplifts in in so many ways. And more and more people, particularly youngsters are looking for ways to build meaning into their work. And it’s even translating into employee activism over the last last few weeks. Because we’re recording this on the 13th of January, so only a few days after all the riots in Washington. And from what I’m reading, employee activism has meant that some big corporates are now pulling their donations from political parties, because employees are saying, you know, I don’t want to be a part of this. And so, you know, that the kind of the power of, of citizens you know, it’s now we can all get connected with social media and, and other things. You know, we can, we can use that power a lot more actively than we think and feeling that the company that you’re working for, or the organisation that you’re working for, has the right values, I think he’s just becoming more and more important to people. So yeah, there’s some I really like that value. So Joanna, do you have a recommended guest that you’d that you’d suggest for a future episode.

Joanna Bingham  31:39

So I’ve got at least 23 that I’ve just interviewed! But I think the one that I that makes me feel good, I think there’s there’s a gentleman called Noel who runs an organisation called LONO, in Cote d’Ivoire, and they work at the community scale, which is something that’s really important that we’re not talking enough about decentralised circular economy, and the role it can play in communities. So communities scale, digesters for agricultural waste, and the by-product of methane can be turned into cooking gas, so that they have, you know, a more sustainable cooking guests to avoid deforestation. And then the, they have a a team of farm agents, and extension agents who go and work with their customers, to help them create the best, the best soil additive that they can, that they can use on their crops from this agricultural and kitchen waste. So I really love that model, I think they’ve done a lot of thinking around right sized technology that’s appropriate for the local communities that can be maintained in the local communities. And that addresses the community needs. So I think that’s a really lovely model to look at. I have plenty more that I can recommend to you, you’d like,

Catherine Weetman  33:06

Well, feel free to send the whole list of 23! But I’d love to get the details of know also that that sounds interesting. And yeah, there’s a couple of examples that I’ve looked at over in, in the UK. But everything was was too big scale, really, I was talking to one company and saying, you know, it needs to be ad in in a box. So you could just turn up and drop everything off. And you know exactly what can try it straightaway. And, you know, and then go from there really not investing upfront in something that you’re not quite sure how it’s going to work for you. Excellent. So Joanna, how can people get in touch and find out more about all the great stuff that you’re doing with Footprints Africa.

Joanna Bingham  33:52

So our website definitely needs revamping. But we do have a website, which is www.footprintsafrica.co. And there are various links to the projects we’re doing. So there’s some information on the B Corp programme, which definitely needs updating. And there’s also the link to this report that we’re releasing and the link to the to the map, and which hopefully, you can put in the show notes as well, which can identify all of those case studies. So that’s probably the best way.

Catherine Weetman  34:20

Yep, please to do that great stuff. Well, I’m sure you’re going to have a busy year in 2021. Virtually or or in person, depending on how things pan out with vaccines. And seeing and certainly over here, people people do what they’re supposed to be doing in terms of distancing. And yeah, look forward to seeing the map online. And looking at some of those 23 and growing number of examples. wish you the best of luck for the future.

Joanna Bingham  34:53

Fantastic! Thank you so much, Catherine and thank you so much for hosting me and the work you do. It’s so important.

Catherine Weetman  34:59

Thanks, Joanna.

Want to find out more about the circular economy?

If you’d like to learn more about the circular economy and how it could help your business, why not listen to Episode 1, or read our guide: What is the Circular Economy

To go deeper, you could buy Catherine’s book, A Circular Economy Handbook: How to Build a More Resilient, Competitive and Sustainable Business. This comprehensive guide uses a bottom-up, practical approach.  It includes lots of real examples from around the world, to help you really ‘get’ the circular economy.  Even better, you’ll be inspired with ideas to make your own business more competitive, resilient and sustainable. 

Please let us know what you think of the podcast – and we’d love it if you could leave us a review on iTunes, or wherever you find your podcasts.  Or send us an email

Podcast music

Thanks to Belinda O’Hooley and Heidi Tidow, otherwise known as the brilliant, inventive and generous folk duo, O’Hooley & Tidow for allowing me to use the instrumentals from the live version of Summat’s Brewin’ as music for the podcast. You can find the whole track (inspired by the Copper Family song “Oh Good Ale”) on their album, also called Summat’s Brewin’.  Or, follow them on Twitter.

Ep 57 Helen Burdett World Economic Forum

Episode 57 Helen Burdett – World Economic Forum

Helen Burdett leads the World Economic Forum’s work on circular economy innovation, including its flagship initiative, Scale360°, and its work on Circular Trailblazers. The Scale360° program advances innovation ecosystems for environmental and economic impact with scalable, locally-led innovation support delivered through private-public partnerships--all connected through a global digital community. Circular Trailblazers are the subject of a new report from the…
Ep 55 Anthony Burns ACS

Episode 55 Anthony Burns – ACS

We meet Anthony Burns, Chief Operating Officer of ACS in Scotland. ACS started out as a formal-wear hire business, and is now an internationally recognised and award-winning circular fashion enterprise with clothes rental offerings for woman, men, children and babies. It is now working with a wide range of fashion brands, acting as their Circular Service Provider. We find out…
Ep 54 Louise Bijleveld LONO

Episode 54 Louise Bijleveld – LONO

Catherine Weetman talks to Louise Bijleveld, Co-Founder of LONO in Côte d’Ivoire. Lono helps agro-industrial companies and farmer cooperatives to create value from waste, by converting it into biofertilizers and biogas. Its overall aim is to help value reach rural areas and reduce the inequalities in agricultural supply chains. Côte d’Ivoire is an important global producer of cocoa beans, cashew…

Leave a Reply