Circular strategy business model, a case of the clothing bank in South Africa

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Imagine a river that keeps recycling its water. This is similar to what The Clothing Bank (TCB) in South Africa does with clothes. The TCB takes steps to ensure clothes have a longer life and help people in the process.

A circular strategy is a new approach to business and resource management that creates a closed-loop system where products, materials, and resources are kept in use for as long as possible, thereby reducing waste and minimizing the consumption of new resources. The approach is four pronged – extend, reclaim, maximize and minimize. A cirular strategy is implemented as follows:

1. Repair: Clothes that aren’t in great shape get a little TLC (tender loving care). TCB teaches people how to fix these clothes, so they look good as new. This way, clothes get a second chance, much like how a broken toy becomes a favorite again after it’s repaired.

2.  Extending Product Lifespan. The Clothing Bank uses a few smart ways to make clothes last longer:

  • Reuse: Think of TCB as a lifeguard for clothes. They save clothes from big stores that are about to be thrown away.  trained..

Instead of these clothes ending up in landfills, TCB gives them a new life by selling them through small business owners they’ve

3. Maximizing Product Use. TCB’s approach ensures that clothes are used to their fullest potential:

  • Micro-Entrepreneur Network: TCB trains people, mostly women who are out of work, to become small business owners. 

They sell the saved and repaired clothes, which helps them make a living. It’s like teaching someone to fish rather than just giving them a fish.

  • Community Engagement: By involving local communities in this process, TCB keeps the clothes circulating within the region, much like a village market where goods are traded and reused.

4. Minimizing Resource Use. TCB uses resources wisely:

  • Efficient Sorting and Distribution: TCB sorts and distributes clothes efficiently, ensuring that every piece is put to good use, much like a chef who makes sure every ingredient in the kitchen is used in a meal.
  • Educational Programs: TCB teaches people about the importance of reducing waste and being sustainable, spreading knowledge like a teacher shares wisdom with students.

Strategic Fit and Leadership Commitment. The Clothing Bank’s strategy fits well with its goal of helping people and protecting the environment. The leaders at TCB are committed to making a positive impact, steering the ship towards sustainability like a captain navigates through a storm.

The Clothing Bank is like a gardener who plants seeds, nurtures them, and watches them grow into a beautiful garden. TCB not only reduces waste but also empowers people and communities. That is the power of a circular strategy. How can you reivent your business model with a circular strategy?


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