Circularízate, Circular Economy Program for MSMEs in Colombia

Bogota adopted the District Development Plan, a new social and environmental contract for the 21st century, to help solve the multiple economic, social and environmental challenges that the city faces. This plan seeks strategies to prevent, adapt to, and alleviate the climate crisis through social and economic recovery actions following sustainable development principles. Within the framework of this plan, the Mayor's Office of Bogotá issued Agreement 761 in 2020, which established as a priority the formulation of programs that promote the circular economy to reduce the generation and improve the use of waste.

Inspired by this Agreement, in 2021, the Secretariat of Economic Development of the Mayor's Office set itself the task of identifying several areas of opportunity to promote strategies and the adoption of the circular economy in the productive fabric of the city, among which they prioritized: energy efficiency, efficient use of water resources, use and recovery of waste, and agriculture, construction and sustainable mobility.


The mayor's focus on circular supplies was accentuated, among other factors, by the study that the Colombian National Administrative Department of Statistics (DANE) published in 2019. The report included information regarding the generation of 1,500 million kilograms of discarded waste not reused by industries to run other production processes. This showed that there is a great opportunity to use waste to generate products for different economic sectors.


How was Circularízate born?


Bogota's Secretariat of Economic Development, in partnership with IDOM Consulting, created the Circularízate program to incorporate circular economy models. It aims to promote a group of micro, small and medium-sized companies, from 7 productive groups, to evolve from a traditional business model to one that takes advantage of and uses waste in its value chain, mainly in developing innovative products and processes or services.


Which companies are participating?


Priority was given to micro, small and medium-sized companies belonging to any of the seven opportunity sectors prioritized by the District Secretariat of Economic Development (SDDE), motivated and interested in seeking new forms of growth with environmental awareness. The sectors identified are Bio-economy (pharmaceuticals and cosmetics), Cultural and creative industries (graphic communication, gastronomy, handicrafts, visual arts, music, books, publications, cultural education), Software and technology, Movement industries (bicycles, logistics), Fashion (footwear, clothing, leather goods, jewelry, and costume jewelry), Agribusiness (meat, dairy, fish cocoa) and Tourism.


The 77 applicant companies went through a thorough selection process in which they had to show compliance with several requirements. Among them, the most important were: to have basic knowledge and apparent interest in sustainability and circular economy issues, to have more than two years of incorporation, to have an updated commercial registry, and to have its center of operations in Bogota's Capital District.


Thirty-eight MSMEs were selected that, during 2022, will receive consultancy and support for the development of innovative products, processes, or services, applying circular economy principles, which will generate economic, social, and environmental benefits: innovation and competitive advantages, cost reduction, reduction of energy consumption and CO2 emissions, and strengthening of the supply chain.


The six components of the program


The Circularízate program has six components. It began with developing a diagnosis to identify seven opportunity sectors and select the participating MSMEs. Then, it started with implementing a comprehensive work plan with the selected companies, which began with a training program in Circular Economic components. This was followed by modeling a new circular business line for each company. Subsequently, the program will develop business plans for each company, then an evaluation of the program's impact will be assessed.


At the end of the program, the objective is that participating companies will have the tools and knowledge to identify circular economy opportunities, design strategies with a focus on sustainability, and attract the necessary investment to implement their plans.


This program evidences the deep commitment of the city of Bogota to promote circular economy, from policies that regulate the urban system to initiatives that promote this sustainable production mentality among the private sector, recognizing the vital role that MSMEs have in the pursuit of this goal.