The global apparel sector is becoming more open to a circular economy both on a technical and a business model level. The latter is of particular importance, as it implies a shift from ownership to use so that materials and apparel are provided as a service, not a product to be rapidly discarded. These new business models are fundamental for the systemic change of the sector and will result in better use of materials and support better working conditions.
However, though commitments to the adoption of circular approaches are increasing, few brands, retailers and upstream suppliers are truly redesigning their businesses around circularity. This phenomenon is what the C&A Foundation has identified as the “Implementation Gap.” To help bridge this gap, it has issued a call for innovative and bold proposals that challenge the status quo of the global apparel industry.
The Foundation has budgeted €1.5 million to fund seven proposals demonstrating a willingness to drive the implementation of circular business models in companies related to the apparel industry. In addition to providing funding, C&A will facilitate a learning group for the winners to connect frequently and share lessons and evolving methodologies, with the ultimate aim of publishing each case study. Proposals may be part of a larger collaboration or program and leverage other funds.
Applications should incorporate one or more of the following principles in order to achieve a measurable increase in the implementation of circular business models within the timeframe of the grant:
- Design First: Incorporate design thinking/organizational change as a fundamental approach;
- Innovation: Use innovative processes for implementation that bridge the gap between the idea and actual change;
- Regional: Have a regional focus (countries or continents)
- Vision: Demonstrate how this proposal can set an example that accelerates the uptake of the circular economy in apparel more broadly.
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In addition to the above principles, proposals should include explicit outcomes of the initiative; a description of how the initiative will contribute to the long-term transformation of the companies involved; an explanation of the channels to be used to effectively engage internal leadership; and clearly delineated roles and responsibilities of all implementing partners.
Proposals must come from organizations that have a history of working in the focus region or country, as well as a base in the region or country of implementation. Additionally, proposals should have a duration of no more than three years and a maximum request from the C&A Foundation of €300,000.
The C&A Foundation will not accept proposals that focus on technical innovations; only include for-profit consultancy services to individual companies, or focus solely on scaling a startup with a circular business model.
The request for proposals is open now until February 18, 2018.