How can sustainably-driven entrepreneurs join the circular economy?

For Circular Economy Week, we discussed this with entrepreneurs at our recent Environment Talks event, as well as circular businesses from our ASSETS programme.

Here are our 5 key takeaways on the common challenges and solutions for circular-driven businesses:


Challenge #1 – Responding to global issues

Climate change is a global issue with multiple layers and complexities, such as carbon emission rates, deforestation and rising sea levels. It can seem difficult to address big global challenges and economies from where you are. 

Solution – Keep it focused

Circular economies start best when approached at a small local level. Begin by understanding the needs of your local community and adapting your business idea accordingly. This means you’ll want to keep your solution narrow and focused. 

“Ensure you are solving a real problem and not creating one. Look where you personally can add the most value and create the greatest impact for you and those you can help. Think big but start small.” – Jason from TracoUK.

This approach should also apply to the value chain of your business. Map out the different components in your circular business model and tackle one area at a time. 


Challenge #2 – Networking

If you’re new to business or circular practices, it can be tricky to know the right people to connect with for guidance, exchange ideas, collaborate and reach customers. 

Solution – Know your tribe

Start by exploring who you already have a connection with – LinkedIn is a useful platform to do this. Here you can also find and reach out to experts in the sector-specific to your business or mission. 

Attend in-person events related to the circular economy and sustainability. As well as familiarising yourself with the ongoing work on circular models, you’ll probably meet like-minded individuals and businesses.

Approach and engage with local cafes, shops, farmer markets, and community initiatives. As well as building your connections, this will help you with your research and improve your business solution.

“We’ve started Amplify Goods as a circular enabled business, and with collaboration, it will become an increasingly meaningful part of our circular economy.” – Pasha from Amplify Goods.

Lastly, keep an eye out for business support programmes, such as The Circular Start Up. As well as offering valuable upskilling and knowledge, it provides a peer group to grow with. 


Challenge #3 – Costs of testing phase

Testing your product or service is one of the key elements in any business, as it helps validate the efficiency of your solution. However, most entrepreneurs seem to face an economic barrier to kick start the validation phase.

SolutionThink creatively

If you are facing barriers due to lack of space, consider alternatives in your local area such as community halls, pop-up stalls at local markets, or sharing space. Explore less obvious opportunities which could work out through negotiations.

“Some spaces are empty depending on the time of day. Don’t be scared to ask if there’s an opportunity of sharing or collaborate to keep costs down. Be a bit cheeky!” – Lucy from The Breakfast Collective.

There are also ways to be resourceful when it comes to collecting feedback on your product or service. If for example, you’re working on sustainable clothing, you could find relevant audiences and present your prototype through charity shops and swap events. 


Challenge #4 – Funding and investment

When kick-starting or growing a business, funding is one of the most common barriers.

SolutionFind your match

Angel investors are a good option, as they are often more dependable and secure than loans or personal funding. They can be involved at different stages of the business and there is scope for stability. 

These investors can be found through professional networks such as LinkedIn. The key here is to find the right match. 

“It’s just like dating, it may take many meetings and conversations, but it’s worth taking the time to find someone who is truly aligned with your idea and circular mission” – Hasna from Save Your Wardrobe.

When approaching investors, make sure you have a well-prepared pitch and presentation. 

It’s worth also exploring other funding options. Platforms such as Good Finance UK provide clear guides and resources.


Challenge #5 – Feeling overwhelmed

As you start to pursue a circular business, you may feel overcome by the long list of tasks you give yourself, or the number of challenges you seem to encounter. 

SolutionDissect your challenges

Learn to find your resilience, as you’ll likely face barriers at each stage of your business. 

“It’s a new I industry just awakening, don’t be surprised if you get told it will never work, just back yourself and go for it.” – Lee from Paint360.   

Prioritise your mental health throughout the journey as it is important to take care of yourself first. Identify the things you love to do and what you find more difficult. This will help you visualise the different roles needed in your business and delegate tasks effectively. 

Make sure you stay strong and don’t compromise on your principles. It is ok to start small and then, as you gradually expand, you can incorporate more and more circular solutions into your business. 

“Be bold and clear on your values and USPs, as this is (and needs to be) the future so our customer bases will grow!” – Camilla from Connection Crew.



Want to stay connected to an entrepreneurial community that strives for a circular economy? Learn more about what we offer at Impact Hub King’s Cross through coworking, startup programmes and partnerships.

What priorities lie for the next generation of entrepreneurs? To celebrate Circular Economy Week 2022, we share thoughts from London’s newest entrepreneurs who are using circular principles to provoke positive change.

Fifty individuals are taking action through The Circular Start Up. Launched in April and delivered in partnership with ReLondon, this eighteen-month free programme helps develop business ideas with a circular model in London. It is also working to bridge the gap between inclusion and climate in the entrepreneurship space, by developing a cohort from underserved backgrounds.

At this early stage of the programme, we asked eight of the participants to share their attitudes, motivations and action towards circular economy.


Naomi Bid

What does ‘Circular Economy’ mean to you?

‘A Circular Economy is moving away from a “linear” economy, where we take natural resources, make products out of them and then send them to landfills when we’re done. Instead, we design our products to be used and kept in circulation for much longer and designed with its ‘end of life’ in mind.’

What motivates you to develop an idea?

‘By reducing the amount of resources used from the natural world, and reducing waste, we deplete the Earth less, and in turn it will have a chance to heal. I want my day-to-day work to be directed towards something meaningful for the future health of the planet: work that in the long run, by reshaping the way we do business as a society, will allow the Earth to heal.’

 Why did you join The Circular Start Up programme?

I want to start a business with circular economy principles, I came across this programme and thought that’s perfect!


Alexander Rose

What does ‘Circular Economy’ mean to you?

‘For me, it’s a mindset more than anything else. It’s about being responsible for your consumption of key resources, aware of ways to give items you no longer need a second life, and finally, encouraging manufacturers to adopt practices that result in less waste and more responsible business practices.’

What motivates you to develop an idea?

‘My idea CartridgeBuyBack (website going live soon) is a CIC that will repurpose unused printer supplies and use the profits to support a range of criminal justice charities in the UK. I want to stop perfectly useable products going to landfills and stem wasted human potential by supporting prison-leavers with employment support. Let me know what you think about my idea as I am a firm believer that great questions/feedback leads to the best solutions.’ 

 Why did you join The Circular Start Up programme?

‘As a solo entrepreneur, it is easy for one’s mind to become an echo chamber with no external input to challenge your idea and underlying assumptions. The amount of peer support the Circular Startup offers is definitely something I know I need before stepping out fully with my big idea. More broadly, to become part of a community of like-minded people who are passionate about solutions that help society become less resource-intensive and more inclusive of others. The world is a big place, therefore trying to bring about these changes on my own feels counterintuitive, which is why I am delighted to be part of this programme and a growing community of change-makers in the reuse, recycle and repurpose agenda. ‘


Frances and Helena

What does ‘Circular Economy’ mean to you? 

‘A system of living on our planet that reduces the need to degrade our precious environment by either using less resources to start with or using the resources that we do need to use as efficiently, fairly and responsibly as possible.’

What motivates you to develop an idea?

‘Our plan to grow microgreens in an urban setting means that hyper fresh nutrient rich food which is very easy to prepare and eat could offer a simple and cost effective way for many to improve their diets. There is lots of evidence that school children eating a healthy and nutritious diet can improve their mental and physical health and educational outcomes. We very much want to help by using an incredibly sustainable innovative agricultural method which limits GHGs and the use of chemicals in agriculture and saves millions of litres of water.’

 Why did you join The Circular Start Up programme?

‘I knew of the incredible work Angie had done with the Feeding the City Start Up programme and the strong reputation that Impact Hub has around the world. We know that the programme will help us make our business better in many ways and that we will learn some very important skills along the way. We are very grateful for this support.’ 


Nanna Sandom

What does Circular Economy mean to you?

‘Ways to create and maintain jobs, revenue, and profits for organisations, focussing on utilising things in existence already, rather than extract new raw materials from the Earth. It is a mindset and philosophy which at the core has the mantra ‘Waste isn’t waste until it is waste’ and at every point seeks to extract as much lifetime value from each product, from the moment it is produced.’

What motivates you to develop an idea?

‘The UK has a particular problem, as it has an incredibly high consumption of the world’s resources through imports, and creates the corresponding waste. This is largely not being dealt within the UK, but exported to poorer nations, thus exacerbating the climate problems. There’s an opportunity to lead the way in innovation in this field. Exploring circular business models and initiatives provides the opportunity for innovative ideas to combat over-consumption, product under-utilisation, and waste management in a profitable manner to be tested and scaled.’

 Why did you join The Circular Start Up programme?

‘Big problems require big solutions, and initiatives such as this tie directly into the UN Sustainable Goals. The ability to test my idea in a framework and in the right support network of like-minded entrepreneurs and professional advisors is priceless. Recognising that you cannot change the world on your own and having sounding boards and encouragement to keep going is incredibly important to me – it is about knowing that you need help and that what you think is a great idea may need tweaking and changing to fit where the market is right now, and having the resource and support to do that is what excited me about joining.’


Chiho Sharp

What does ‘Circular Economy’ mean to you? 

‘We create an ever-lasting sustainable system to use our resources and practice 6Rs, 3Rs/Reduce, Reuse, Recycle + 3Rs/Rationalise, Repair, Redesign. The first 3Rs have been around for a long time, but without the other 3, it is not complete. The demand from the public has to increase for the manufacturers to produce products that are reusable, recyclable, and repairable with redesigning. If consumers are not aware of 6Rs, it’s less effective. Also, products made based on 6R principles have to be widely available and affordable for the public.’

What motivates you to develop an idea?

‘As a mother of three who has been well informed about the climate change at school, I have been supporting them to take part in protests, making a film, starting a litter picking project and involving in Green Youth Board. I also work closely with local schools and families and noticed that there are so many things that we can do to change the way we do things.’

 Why did you join The Circular Start Up programme?

I joined this program to do my bit. I believe everyone can contribute something to make this world a better place to live. It will be nice to hear other people’s ideas and find out more cutting-edge information in the course materials.  Also, it’ll be nice to work with like-minded and proactive people.’


Beril Oturmazer

 Why did you join The Circular Start Up programme?

‘I can develop my idea into a business model and get the right direction from one of the best possible networks. After joining the ideation session, I realised that the approach from the programme managers will help us to get the most of it. For people who think about climate change solutions all the time, ideas come to our minds several times and it can be hard to take the initial step. I am highly motivated to develop my idea under The Circular Startup since I believe circular economy solutions have a holistic approach to include all steps of any process. Besides, being under the same umbrella with participants who strive for a better world is inspiratory’.


Keisha Hollands

What does ‘Circular Economy’ mean to you?

‘Doing all that you can to be conscious and proactive in reducing waste and harm to the environment.’

What motivates you to develop an idea?

‘Passion for bees and how important they are to our existence.’

 Why did you join The Circular Start Up programme?

‘Because it is an amazing opportunity from an amazing organization!’

ASSETS (Assisting Social Enterprises to Succeed) is an innovative business support programme for social enterprises in the construction industry supply chain who aim to scale their operations and secure larger contracts.

Instigated from Social Enterprise UK’s Buy Social Corporate Challenge, Impact Hub King’s Cross has once again partnered with Wates to deliver the second edition of this business mentoring programme. The shared goal is to support social and environmental impact-driven suppliers to improve readiness to scale up and successfully compete UK-wide. We hope more companies in this challenge can help social enterprises grow. 

Meet the 5 businesses on the 2022 programme:


Nuneaton Signs

Provides meaningful employment and training for people with disabilities through the manufacture and sale of signs.



ABC Life Support

Delivers physical and mental health first aid training to companies and individuals across the UK. They offer statutory first aid training for the workplace and use the profit to offer the training to those who would not otherwise access it.



Morgan Developments

Building economic justice for disenfranchised communities in the UK. Their vision is to become a well-known, major fit-out specialist social enterprise operating across the UK, with 75% of profits reinvested. They deliver their social mission in two keyways. Firstly, by actively building training and apprenticeship opportunities for disadvantaged young people in the UK. Secondly, by harnessing spend power and working only with BAME-led supply chain.




Recycle and re-engineer unwanted paint and paint pots destined for landfill or incineration, employing young people with barriers to employment.



Greenstream Flooring

Circular economy principles underpin all of the work they do, and to date their main trading income has derived from services based on extending the life cycle of flooring of commercial flooring for maximum social and environmental benefit.



Want to make entrepreneurship more inclusive and sustainable? Explore how you could partner with us to deliver impactful projects like these.


How can social enterprises and corporates work together to create greater social impact? Find out how we achieved this through our recent programme delivery.

Impact Hub King’s Cross has supported social entrepreneurs for the last 15 years and delivered business support programmes to 700+ entrepreneurs in the last 6 years.

Meanwhile, Wates is a leader in the construction sector. In order to achieve greater impact and encourage more environmental and social business in this industry, Wates’ ‘Creating Opportunities Social Value’ strategy set an objective to support 5 social enterprises to achieve national scale by 2025.

Last year we decided to combine our knowledge and experience by partnering together. This led to the creation of ASSETS (Assisting Social Entrepreneurs to Succeed), an innovative 6-month programme that supports social enterprises in the construction industry supply chain to scale their operations and impact.

The pilot programme ran in the second half of 2021 and supported 5 social enterprises from across the UK. All of these businesses had an inclusion focus: from offering opportunities to unemployed groups, to providing essential services to those who cannot afford them.

Over the course of the programme, the cohort had access to a business diagnostic and development plan, mentors, expert-led workshops, peer support, and a global impact-driven network.

We’re pleased to be able to share the goals and outcomes of the programme in the ASSETS Impact Report 2021.

Participating businesses were able to improve their business skills and strategic decision-making, make useful contacts, and think about their entrepreneurial wellbeing and resilience through the programme. Wates employees also had the opportunity to engage as mentors. The experience helped them understand their own skill sets and increase their confidence.

Overall, the success of the partnership has contributed to Wates’ wider social value goals, through Social Enterprise UK’s Buy Social Corporate Challenge.

We’re pleased to be able to run a second edition of the programme, which has been developed using the learnings from the pilot.


Are you a corporate looking to increase your positive impact? Learn more on our partnerships page and get in touch today to speak to our team.



Joining Impact Hub King’s Cross in 2021, Eva Lagarde and her colleague Saffron Gupta form the team at Re/sources to make the beauty industry more sustainable. They get together at our coworking space on a weekly basis to collaborate under the skylight rooftop, surrounded by other impact-driven entrepreneurs.

On International Women’s Day, we caught up with Eva to learn more about starting her business and working in sustainability:


Q: What’s your mission, and what led you to this?

A: “My mission is to empower and bring freedom to women through knowledge. I’ve always been a feminist and I think that if we don’t know our rights as women, we can’t fight for them. I believe in equality, and unless we know we are pursuing unequal goals, we can’t change them. I want to bring knowledge to women to help them make better choices for themselves and find freedom. Freedom of choice. freedom to be different.
I’ve always been working in media and innovation, and I noticed in 2020 that there was a huge gap in understanding sustainability and innovation in my industry.  There was a lot of misconception and greenwashing, and this is when I investigated a way to bring more content (unbiased, fact-checked and reliable) in sustainability and innovation in beauty.
I was working on the idea and held the first workshop about this topic in London in February 2020 (brands like Bybi Beauty, TerraCycle, Charlotte TIlbury, Molton Brown, Elemis joined the workshop). I decided I wanted to develop more of these, but then, the pandemic hit and I couldn’t do workshops, so I decided to move to online learning a few months later. I though for weeks on what I could do, and one night, my business plan just unrolled in front of my eyes. It was around June 2020″.
Q: How does your business work towards this?
A: “We help beauty brands professionals develop more sustainable products, thanks to education through an online platform and consulting services. I help women:
  1. in the beauty industry – to succeed in their job and build better products. I give them content that they can use to face their management and back up their business decisions.
  2. overall – as the beauty industry mostly serves women. It’s time that we offer them better products for themselves and the planet. And also, brands can educate them to make better choices for themselves.
My vision is to educate brands for better products and marketing campaigns, in order to educate consumers as a result, and stop the greenwashing and fakery.”
Q: How has the business journey been to reach where you are? What challenges have you faced?
A: “Bringing an idea to life is a challenge in itself. Starting something new is complex: some people get it, others will tear you down. The biggest challenge is navigating the unknown and mastering the known. I feel like starting up a new business is juggling the art of not knowing what you do, until you master what you do – fake it till you make it. It does not mean working on a completely new idea, area or industry, but rather playing 50% with things you don’t know, and 50% with things you know – a good professional experience and insights that help you make a good guess of what’s your next move.”
For my business, in particular, I find the biggest challenge is avoiding greenwashing. A lot of brands are doing great things, but we are limited by technology today – developing a beauty product takes 12 to 48 months, so it’s a long time, and we are not as agile as we would want to be because of product safety, etc. We need to be more transparent about our limitations, but also our plan for the future… Rome wasn’t built in one day! More brands could say “We would like to achieve…, but today we can only do…, and tomorrow we’ll implement…”.
Q: What are your plans for 2022?
A: “Grow the business, including visibility, impact, revenue, and the team. Most of the courses currently focus on packaging because this is the tip of the iceberg, and where I have developed my contacts historically in my industry. However, I’m now working on developing content on ingredients, formulation and much more exciting content.”
Q: What’s your advice for anyone with an impact-driven business idea, particularly in sustainability?
A: “Don’t settle for what people say. Sustainable is fairly new and very challenging. You have to fight for your ideas even if it means potentially offending future clients or sponsors. We are in the realm of authenticity these days – big money will not necessarily cut it anymore, but honesty, transparency, and perseverance will bring success.”
Want to connect with sustainable businesses like Re/sources? Discover how to become a member.

We talk a lot about the value of working in a like-minded community to achieve positive impact – but what exactly does that look like? We spoke to Birda‘s Co-Founder Natalie White about how the team transformed their business through our community connections.

Since growing up in South Africa and the English countryside respectively, husband and wife John and Natalie have always shared a big passion for wildlife. They wanted to extend this with others, while providing people the chance to get in touch with the natural world. 

“At the end of the day, you need to care about something in order to want to protect it. And if you haven’t experienced it, why should you care about it?”

Taking flight with an idea

In 2012, the South Africa-based couple started a wildlife platform where users could log and share sightseeings from game reserves within a community and social space. 

However, it became apparent that the product was a bit too niche, so they later pivoted to bird watching. The new social network platform, named Chirp, could be accessible anywhere by anyone. “There are no real barriers to it. I think it’s recorded that between 50 and 60 million people in the States alone would consider themselves to be a birdwatcher. So, yeah, it’s a much bigger market.” 

After securing funding and moving to the UK in the summer of 2020, they were joined by a new team member Dom, who helped them pivot once again. The product concept was developed beyond a communication platform to become more like the Strava of birdwatching.

“We managed to rebuild a product from scratch in the space of about six to nine months, which was pretty good going, really.”


Migrating Identity 

By 2021 Natalie and John built a nest for their team at our coworking space. Here, they were able to find a community with shared values: making a positive impact, but also helping people connect with one another.

In the same year, however, the business encountered a copyright roadblock. The name Chirp was already quite crowded not just in the birdwatching space, but globally, so they decided to call themselves something different. After much research, work and hard decisions, they set on Birda

Given their small size and that they had just rebuilt their product, they saw this as an opportunity to apply a clean slate on the brand, rather than trying to shoehorn something that already existed. 

All they had done on the rebrand was the bare bones of a logo – so they knew that there was quite a lot more to do. 


Finding a good egg

One day, John saw that one of Impact Hub King’s Cross’ business experts from the network was offering members a day of free 1:1 brand clinics. Noticing that he focused on impact-driven businesses, they thought this could be a good match and booked themselves in. 

In the initial free call with Will Saunders from Good Will Studios, they really hit it off. As such, the team decided to go beyond the first conversation by engaging in Will’s full brand development plan. Although it seemed like quite a commitment going through all the workshops, it was worth it. Beyond putting together a brand package and useful materials, the founding team was able to become highly aligned on what they’re here to do: 

“On our journey we’ve learned how to identify and talk about all these underlying feelings that we had, really searching out the why, the mission, the purpose, and bringing that all together. Deep down we always knew what it was, but weren’t necessarily able to communicate it very well. I think it’s always been there, but now we’ve been able to really make it part of what we’re doing at Birda, which is great.”

The benefit of doing business with a like-minded entrepreneur goes beyond the work itself:

“What’s great is that he cares about what we’re doing – the mission and purpose of the business.”

The good news is that Will is just as much of a fan of our members. “Working with Natalie, John, and the Birda team was an absolute joy. I always enjoy meeting members of the Impact Hub Kings Cross community as I get a real sense of purpose and ambition – they’re always keen to make a real change through their business and are not satisfied with the status quo. They are doing something to make the world a better place, and I find that really inspiring.”

Birda is still working with Will today and see themselves having very much a long term working relationship. “The great thing is that he really understands the brand because he’s worked through it all with us. So when you’re giving him new work to do, it’s so much easier and time-saving.” They’ve also worked with Will’s associates to do their copywriting. 

“We’re now seeing some great results as they’ve launched their birdwatching app and are building a really engaged community of everyday nature-curious people who want to connect with the outdoors”’ shares Will, reflecting on the outcomes of the collaboration.


Looking Ahead – the sky’s the limit

Natalie and John have always had global ambitions for their business. To achieve this however, they’re taking a staged rollout approach, focusing on the UK first. They’re launching soon in South Africa, and later this year plan to reach the States and then other countries will follow on. 

During this final stage of pivoting, they also expanded their team significantly. “We’ve basically gone from just being John and I to a team of nine. And, we will be hiring again this year.”

Will is just as optimistic about their future:

“I know that the Birda team are really going places. I look forward to supporting them as they continue to build their brand, scale their business, and make a positive impact on nature by inspiring everyday people to learn about and, ultimately, fight to protect it”.

So, how do Natalie and John reflect on their entrepreneurial journey so far?

If there’s one thing they have learned, it’s that ideas evolve. “You can’t really put a price on the experience that John and I have had over the last nine to ten years. It’s been a bit of a whirlwind of a few years, but really, really exciting.”

From a personal perspective, Natalie also acknowledges that since having kids it’s been a real driving force behind what she’s doing. “I’ve been feeling very much the issues around the state of the planet, and what are they going to get to experience as they grow up in terms of exposure to nature and wildlife.”

If you want to learn more about how Birda connects people and nature, visit their website


Are you inspired to connect with impact-driven businesses and experts? Discover our coworking packages and life as a member.

Islington, February 2022Impact Hub King’s Cross has launched a new fully-funded programme that supports Londoners from underserved communities to launch businesses with a circular economy model.


The climate and inclusion challenge

In London alone, 7m tonnes of waste is produced from homes, public buildings, and businesses each year. Of this, only 52 per cent is currently recycled and performance has stagnated.

At the same time, the capital city still lacks diversity in business leadership. ​​The Federation of Small Businesses recently published research showing that only 15% of SMEs are women-led and less than 5% are led by a majority Black and minority ethnic leadership team (compared to the 42% of London working population).

Finally, the sustainable business sector is still relatively new. 37% of UK Net Zero companies are at an early stage with the majority located in London, highlighting the demand for wider support for new start-ups.  

Our startup solution

Instant Pickup, a sustainable startup and participant of Impact Hub King’s Cross’ New Roots programme 2020.

The Circular Start Up is unique in addressing all three of these climate, social and enterprise challenges. Particularly encouraging applications from underserved groups, this free programme provides a launchpad for individuals to start a business and make their circular solutions a reality. 

Over 18 months, participants can apply their entrepreneurial spirit to build the skills, confidence and networks needed in circular economy business, with support from mentors, peers and business experts. 

“Both climate change and inclusion, as well as their intersection, have become a key focus for Impact Hub King’s Cross. Our partnership with JP Morgan Chase & Co. has provided a unique opportunity to support aspiring social entrepreneurs from London currently not included in the circular economy ecosystem” – Angelica Santodomingo, Senior Programmes Manager at Impact Hub King’s Cross. 

J.P. Morgan is committed to applying capital, data, expertise and other resources to help address climate change and promote long-term, innovative solutions for a more sustainable future. This philanthropic investment helps to advance the transition to a low-carbon economy and builds upon the firm’s broader commitment to environmental sustainability. The firm has set a target to finance and facilitate $2.5 trillion over the next 10 years to address climate change and contribute to sustainable development and has also announced a Paris-aligned financing commitment and sector-specific emissions reductions targets and methodology.

‘The circular economy gives us a tool to tackle climate change and biodiversity loss together, while generating opportunities for economic growth that also benefit society. We are excited to support Impact Hub King’s Cross in their incubator to help entrepreneurial Londoners launch and grow their businesses active in the circular and green economies,” said Oliver Gregson, Region Head UK, Channel Islands & Ireland for J.P. Morgan Private Bank.


Applications open on Friday 4 February, and the deadline to apply is 13 March 2022.


What do we mean by ‘circular economy’?

Key benefits identified of the circular economy.

The world operates in a linear economic model that takes, makes, uses, and wastes in a way that’s not sustainable nor economical. It is estimated that by 2050, global demand for resources will triple to US$130 billion tons annually, which will then overuse earth’s capacity by more than 400%. Yet, only 8.6% of the global economy is circular today (source:

Circular economy is a powerful model of principles and activities that aim to keep the value of resources, materials, components, and products for as long as possible in the economy. The circular model aims to redefine growth, focusing on positive society-wide benefits that build economic, natural, and social capital.

Put in practical terms, this could be creating a rental service for household tools, or repurposing unused textiles into sellable products.


Pioneers for Impact–Driven Business

Feeding the City group

The Feeding the City Start Up cohort 2018.

For nearly 15 years, Impact Hub King’s Cross has been catalysing entrepreneurial action for a fair and sustainable future. Alongside an impact-driven coworking space in Central London, it runs business support programmes for ethical and diverse entrepreneurs. Feeding the City has run for 5 years to help sustainable food businesses start and grow, while New Roots offers mentorship and peer-support local entrepreneurs from minority ethinic backgrounds.

Now, it’s ready to catalyse the circular economy – and bring everyone with them.


Learn more about the Circular Start Up and find out how you can join as a participant or partner.

While we still face the effects of Covid-19, it’s clear that over the last year the world has shifted in some fundamental ways. We can’t go back to what was before – it’s time to harness the opportunities that lie ahead of us, and build back better. Discover how the Impact Hub King’s Cross community is Rebuilding our Future:


Here to Provoke Change

This means focusing on some key aspects of our society and planet that need immediate attention: Diversity, Equity & Inclusion, Food Systems, and Climate. From a New Roots participant tackling air pollution in London, to a coworking team closing the gender gap in the trades industry, our community is taking collective action to solve these challenges.

Impact Hub King’s Cross supports members along their entrepreneurial journey to help them reach their full potential and impact.


Why Read Our Report?

1. Gain insightful data from impact-driven entrepreneurs

2. Discover inspiring stories of social and environmental impact in action

3. Be inspired by collaborations across sectors and business-support programmes


If this content resonates with your work and mission, join as a member, explore our programmes or become a partner so we can #ProvokeChangeTogether.

For the third year running, we’re supporting local people from a Black, Asian and minority ethnic background with an interest in entrepreneurship.

Powered by GoDaddy, the New Roots programme helps turn ideas into thriving enterprises and careers, while accelerating diversity and inclusion to the entrepreneurial sector.

Meet the 20 individuals joining the programme cohort:


New Roots Cohort 2021/22

Aneta Ten

Aneta has a passion for painting. She feels she can best express herself through art and would like to pass that freedom and happiness on to people through her work.

Her ultimate goal is to dress as many homes and offices with her paintings, so it can be her sole channel of income.


Ibrahim Khali

Ibrahim wants to contribute towards building better societies by focusing on early education for vulnerable children.

His ambition is to provide free early childhood education for children in developing countries, starting in small cities in Iraq and Syria and later expanding in MENA.


Kudielela Santana

Kudiela is passionate about helping others. This led her to start Management of Knowledge, a business consultancy and training company for startups, with the support of highly experienced and motivated mentors. They also tap into the local resources of councils, libraries and higher education language colleges.

The idea was born out of the need to support both UK companies looking to invest in Portuguese speaking countries, as well as supporting startups in the Portuguese speaking communities.


Makeda L. Cole

Makeda’s business idea is ‘rubbish’ – i.e. using environmental waste to create sustainable handbags. Her forward-thinking lifestyle brand is inspired by modern needs, heritage prints and traditional West African craftsmanship. The bags can be upcycled after use into other household items – minimising wastage through innovative design. It’s a disruptive statement piece in the market, crafted from discarded and renewable fibres to create unique bags.

The brand exists to meet consumer needs for ethical fashion and to address the environmental impact of fashion, by extending the product life-cycle and using recyclable packaging. The business will allow for social impact for socio-economic opportunities through the provision of income for local makers globally such as in West Africa, to enable them to support families and skills to empower their lives, creating a positive impact on urban and rural communities.


Marcia Michael

Marcia wants to develop creative art works that show thought and purpose. She wants to encourage co-creation, by involving others in the making process and providing a learning experience to grow from.


Nicole Als

Nicole aims to support wellbeing and self-care in a holistic way, while building connections within the community while being fully inclusive, affordable, and accessible.

She intends to sell alternative/holistic therapy services, as well as bespoke handmade crystal jewellery. It is a core value of the business to create make it accessible for those who are low-waged or unemployed.

Nicole’s ultimate dream is to build an enthusiastic team that is as passionate as her about the benefits of alternative therapies and holistic practice. In the future, she sees the service expanding into wellbeing and self-care retreats, offering varied options of therapies to individuals and groups, while building communities.


Valerie Irish

Valerie’s business is based on sharing her creations with others and hoping they derive pleasure as much as she gains by making them.

Her products include custom jewellery, embellished footwear, sewing bags and decorating fascinators, all with an Afro-Caribbean/westernised/international edge.


Temi Fajobi

Temi’s business is a stationery and wellbeing company that creates unique, artisan products inspired by African culture, heritage and lifestyle.

Her self-made and designed notebooks will be accompanied by a service in the form of wellness boxes that include their products and additional content aimed especially at people of colour to help them on their spiritual/wellness journey.

Temi’s long-term vision for the business includes teaching book-making skills to women who are refugees or victims of domestic abuse. They could then become brand ambassadors, employees, own shares, or franchise the business, empowering their individual financial situation.


Angie Realpe Palacios

Angie would like to set up an office and residential cleaning service to deliver across London. She hopes her business can expand and grow in order to provide fair pay and give back to the community on a regular basis.


Amariah Elliott

Currently a music student, Amariah wants to give customers the opportunity to create and design their own makeup organizer. Her dream for the business is to allow people to use their creativity and apply it to something that they use daily.


Anthony Neunie

With almost 20 years of experience as both a chef and a boxer, Anthony aims to combine these two passions to support young people as well as others to live a clean and healthy lifestyle. Having experienced first-hand the benefits, he hopes to provide fitness & boxing training as well as cooking lessons, targeting those living by themselves on how to budget and eat healthily.

The dream would be to have a combined boxing gym and kitchen space, with room for other potential activities.


Burhan Ghafoori

Burhan hopes to provide a vehicle breakdown recovery service to support those who are stuck at home or on the road.


Chucky Omo

Inspired by the desire to explore conformity, Chucky hopes to gamify the experience of purchasing socks by offering odd and even pairs. He hopes to also raise awareness of divergence and generally thinking outside of the box.

As well as being sustainably made, Chucky hopes to set up a business model where a percentage of the earnings go towards charitable distribution of socks.


Claire Wan

Claire has been selling her unique ceramics for a long time to individuals, as well as retailers and restaurants. She’s also working on a new venture to sell ceramics specifically for pets. This will be a niche range of ceramic bowls and slow feeders as sustainable and/or personalised products for cats and dogs (initially). Claire’s hope is to make sustainability a key message for her products.


Jennifer Otu

Jennifer hopes to set up a podcast. She’s motivated by helping others and making a positive impact that changes society for the better.


Marie Ikong Heuy

Marie wants to help curvy women to be able to purchase fashion clothing to their sizes, while empowering all women to love the evolution of their body with the curve. She aimes to achieve this by making handmade bespoke garments for curvy women, as well as crochet wool scarfs.


Penelope Diaz

Penelope is an advocate for creative thinking for all, using playful ways to educate and engage with the local area.

She set up and has coordinated a gallery space and several exhibitions in Islington over the last 7 years. Now, she would like to transform the red kiosk phone boxes in Camden and Islington into exhibition spaces. Using creative writing as a way to express ideas, share memories and socially engage with the surrounding area – she would invite artists, locals, families, young and old people to submit/share memories, and photographs to create works that could be displayed. She would like to have an emphasis on supporting those people in the community with different types of neurodiversity.

Yasmin Aktar

Yasmin wants to create an online platform where people can submit anonymous prayers which are then shared anonymously so that collectively people can pray. There have been numerous times when individuals are struggling silently and alone. This will allow them to share what they are going through deep inside without the fear of any judgement. When you know that there is someone out there praying for you, it gives a level of comfort and relief.


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Effective partnerships have become an essential part of doing business, whether you’re a social entrepreneur getting started, or an established business looking to innovate. Not only are they suitable for completing projects, but they are also critical to gaining access to networks that enable you to expand your reach or find new customers. However, working with partners is not always easy.

With effective partnerships, both you and partners can gain benefits that are just the same or fair. Imagine if your relationship with partners doesn’t work out due to preventable issues, you’ll risk losing valuable time and potentially damaging your reputation. Relationship building takes time and a significant amount of effort. 

So, how do you create partnerships that are effective and ensure the end result is successful? Here are six essentials for building effective partnerships:

1. Get clear on your mission

This is one of the most important things because if it’s unclear how everyone feels about each other and where their boundaries lie, it will only lead to stress and problems later on down the road. You need to be crystal clear with your expectations and missions so that you know what you’re getting yourself into and aren’t blindsided later. 

You need both sides to be open and honest about the feelings. Also, know what’s expected from each other before anything else happens. If someone isn’t being transparent or honest, the relationship should not move forward until they are.


2. Understand that successes and failures are shared relatively equally

Both partners have an understanding that failures are equally shared, but so are successes. Otherwise, one person may feel they have the upper hand or are doing more work than the other, which can lead to problems later on. This doesn’t mean that things need to be split 50/50 all of the time. 

However, you need to convince your future partners about this matter beforehand. Things like success/failure share should be discussed upfront. You could discuss how one thing should be shared at how much percentage both sides agree on.


3. Contracts should be made 

If you find yourself in a situation where it’s necessary to put something in writing, then you should make sure that it’s done properly through a contract or agreement if possible. 

A contract shouldn’t be used as a tool for controlling people and allowing them to walk all over you in the process. It should be a means for ensuring that everyone is on the same page about what’s supposed to happen and when it’s expected to occur while ensuring everyone involved has given their approval.


4. Different people have different strengths

Everyone has something they’re good at, and when it comes to working with others, knowing one of your partner’s strengths can help make things easier overall. If someone is more of an expert in managing business operations or developing innovation trends, don’t feel like you need to do everything yourself without letting them help out. The reverse can also be confirmed if you excel in some areas but others don’t.

The key here is to communicate with partners what you’re expert or lacking in a certain situation. That way, they can act upon the thing you have less expertise on. In the same way, you should understand your partners’ strengths in order to work efficiently.


5. Communication is key

This can’t be stressed enough. Communication is vital for everything related to building a solid relationship with any kind of business person, whether it be one on one or within a group setting. If communication breaks down, so will the entire partnership or friendship. Keep communication open at all times and never assume what the other person is thinking.

It’s essential to communicate everyone’s role within the partnership to be on the same page from day one. Make sure all partners understand their role, what they are responsible for, and the schedule of milestones.


6. Build a team of all different skill sets

When you’re putting together your team, be sure to hire people who complement each other’s skills and personalities. Hire people who have strengths and abilities that can fill in gaps or cover up weaknesses. Also, don’t forget to include people who think differently than you – it will help stimulate new ideas and bring about unique solutions to problems.



Once you’ve put the above steps in place, it’s time to get your business moving. You should be ready to start enjoying some of the benefits of running a partnership. Do it right, and forget about all that you can gain from an effective working relationship with another business owner. We hope this guide has helped prepare you for making your partnership work!



Andre Oentoro is the founder of Breadnbeyond, an award-winning explainer video company. He helps businesses increase conversion rates, close more sales, and get positive ROI from explainer videos (in that order). 

Twitter: @breadnbeyond

Email: [email protected] 



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