An incubator for retailers and hospitality businesses to work together on ecological goals
The project of De Makelarij came about when 3 partners had the idea of converting the gateway building of the former Ambiorix barracks in Tongeren into a coordination centre that facilitates circular entrepreneurship in the city.
The building, renovated with reusable waste material, now forms an incubator spot where starters with creative making talent and sustainable concepts get the chance to rent affordable space to accommodate a studio, shop or showroom. The activities of these start-ups revolve around circularity (circular raw materials, repair workshop, second-hand ...) or incorporate a principle of sharing economy. The initiatives that are running well and move to grow further make room for new entrepreneurs.
Together under one roof, they can engage in circular entrepreneurship: the residues of one can serve as raw materials for another.
Or the creations of one can serve as a saleable product for the other. At the same time, De Makelarij is also a place where circular entrepreneurs can join forces to conduct better marketing that appeals to other consumer groups and inspires them to buy more circularly. And so we complete our circle.
De Makelarij offers a unique shelter for starters who want to focus on sustainable business. Workshops for carpentry, upcycling, workshops, a partial photo studio ... Many interesting collaborations and even spin-offs have already been created.
Schools also find their way to our centre. We can make an interesting educational contribution because valuable cross-fertilisation occurs between young people and the makers. The same applies to youth movements and sports clubs with whom we now cooperate.
De Makelarij is also a centre for the socially disadvantaged through cooperation with, among others, Nederheem, a day centre for the disabled, De Wroeter, the multicultural family festival AmbioMix, etc.
To attract the right audience for the makers, we organise events such as markets, exhibitions, performances ... This is how we contribute to the cultural experience in Tongeren. By means of experience moments, lectures and workshops, customers and partners discover the possibilities of circular entrepreneurship.
MOST IMPORTANT LESSONS LEARNED
With this project, we could clearly see how the awareness of living more sustainably is growing. This is clearly reflected in the approach of the various companies and organisations we work with.
De Makelarij sets much more in motion than the circular entrepreneurs who rented a space there. We form a real social added value and are more than ever a community where people come together and become circularly infected. This community feeling plays an important role in the exchange of circular ideas.
It is still difficult to measure our exact ecological impact. Currently, we monitor the progress of each partner through semi-annual discussions, but there is not really an objective, universal measuring tool to track and compare this progress.
We want to influence consumer behaviour even more so that they buy more consciously and less purely on price. We would like to support projects that make circularity experienceable and generate feedback. Many companies want to make a circular commitment, but do people really want to buy those products?
50partnerships within 2 years
2direct jobs created
14new circular enterprises started
WHAT DOES THE FUTURE HOLD?
We are pleased to have had the opportunity to set up this project and to have created the first circular hub. It has strengthened our approach and ideas, and we are eager to enter the next phases of this project with determination.
By continuing with the same momentum, we will be able to attract new partners and inspire new entrepreneurs. It will be necessary to expand our coordination centre with additional staff. We can also start new coordination centres in other places. Making this financially possible will be a challenge for the future.
We also want to use the coordination centre to approach consumers even more and to raise their awareness. This will require a renewed communication strategy.