Innovation Consultancy in Business Transformation and Social Impact

Cirklo

4. Quality Education 8. Decent Work and Economic Growth 11. Sustainable Cities and Communities 17. Partnerships for the Goals

Overview

Cirklo creates projects, services and platforms that drive positive changes in the environment. Their main customer segments are Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) and businesses of which they become an ally to potentiate Mexico’s economy and to drive business through innovation. The team is experienced and committed to make a change in the world addressing the UN Sustainable Development Goals of Quality Education, Decent Work, and Economic Growth and Sustainable Cities and Communities.

Author

Rebeca Huerta Pena

Rebeca Huerta Pena

School

TIAS School for Business and Society

TIAS School for Business and Society

Professor

Mirjam Minderman

Mirjam Minderman

Innovation

“As an innovation consultancy, our technology is our methodologies, which are human centered and focused in entrepreneurship and innovations.” The innovation in Cirklo is the combination of process, mindset and tools that enables the analysis of a problem or challenge with a different view. “You need to know what innovation means to your industry, your organization, what does it represent to your culture, can you actually have an innovative environment within your work dynamics, and build your portfolio for innovation”. Compared to a traditional consultancy firm, Cirklo has a different business model because their objective is not to have the transactional value of the clients or the projects, but the relationship value. Innovation helps them create relationships with their partners and clients in a very different way to co-develop products and services that take into account the economic, social, and environmental impact.

Innovation methodologies come from every person in the company; they share their personal views on different approaches and tools, such as design thinking, collaborative learning, agility, etc. which can impact the society, communities and environment. Moreover, they also pay attention to the internal health of their clients. They promote the improvement of human productivity by collaboration and commitment through training, recruitment, and talent development programs. Cirklo is proud of being a non-classic consultancy, by allying with their clients who seek to drive business through purposeful innovation and incredible people. Finally, the company facilitates agile decision making and execution to truly live their mission.

Their starting point was identifying the potential that NGOs have. These organizations are trying to solve the hard and urgent social issues in Mexico, they are working hard but not necessarily thriving. They operate in Mexico where capitalism prevails as the economic model, this system creates a constraint in which the investors stop donating money to the NGOs because they prefer to allocate their resources where they can get return on their investment. In addition, more NGOs are being created but there is not a clear differentiator to decide in which one to invest. Cirklo uses innovation (process, mindset and tools) with them to move from a standpoint where their economic model is based in philanthropy and donations to a position in which they must figure out their competitive advantages and how to create partnerships with other organizations that are doing the same.

“When we were working with the NGOs, we noticed that one of the biggest issues is the mindset, if you want to transform from an NGO to a Social Enterprise it’s not necessary that what you did for free you are now going to charge on it”. The transition should be related with a different business structure, teams and management. For example, if you are a school and you give free education to a hundred children, turning into a social enterprise does not mean that you are going to charge those children with a fee, it means that you can figure out a business model in which the value that you have as a an organization can be charged to another market or sell your know-how to a company that is interested in that. In that way the NGO can become sustainable without affecting the people they were initially trying to help.

Secondly, they started working with the big corporations that are doing good but also a considerable amount of damage, in this case the challenge was the way to move them into a different vision where, as a consultancy, Cirklo can help them to still make money because that’s interesting to them, but doing it in a better way and thinking better about the people that they impact.

Cirklo’s business model considers The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). When they understood that there is a global movement that prioritizes the same concerns as they have, it was the perfect point to combine their initial mission of helping NGOs and enterprises with a global movement. After some experience, they decided to focus on foundations that are already aligned with the SDGs, help them get farther away in their career to achieve their goals, make a better use of their resources and give them different point of views about how they can keep on doing what they are already doing, but differently.

Innovation Consultancy in Business Transformation and Social Impact

Inspiration

Cirklo was founded in 2012 by four partners from the pharma, consultancy, media and software industry. What brought them together was figuring out that companies in Mexico didn't understand the concept of innovation as a part of the value chain or they didn't care about creating positive impact in the environment. “We really needed to figure out a way that we not only talked about innovation as a way to make things different, but also how you can you more positive impact through what you do differently.”

The team came up with the mission of making business differently, if companies were only focused in the short-term profit, they started creating awareness that, through efficiency, it is possible to save money and this efficiency can be achieved by being more sustainable. “It was hard, today we have more track and record about the cases and with this numbers we help them understand our intention.”

Overall impact

Cirklo works on the innovation methodology to help and involve different groups to achieve their objective which is about a systematic approach to tackle social problems. One of the biggest impacts is to minimize the gap among private, public and civil sectors, by creating understanding, collaboration, collective knowledge and promoting new sustainable economic, social and environmental models.

Moreover, Cirklo’s commitment is to be an agent of positive transformation, therefore they co-invest in projects that promote the strengthening of the ecosystem of social impact in Mexico and continuously increase this amount being $400,000 mxn in 2015, $1,200,000 mxn in 2016 and more than $1,200,000 mxn in 2017.

Business benefit

By combining economic development strategies with innovative processes to help their clients incorporate social impact into their companies, Cirklo generates profits from the delivery of this services to enterprises. Their business model allows them to build a long-term relationship with their clients and to maintain a sustainable organization.

Social and environmental benefit

The projects that Cirklo works on with their clients are beneficial to both society and the environment. They focus on the UN Sustainable Development Goals of Quality Education (4), Decent Work and Economic Growth (8) and Sustainable Cities and Communities (11).

Regarding SDG 4, Quality Education, Cirklo collaborated with “Fundación LEGO” and “RobotiX” to improve the implementation of the First LEGO League Junior (FLL Jr.) in Mexico, a program aimed at elementary students in vulnerable conditions who are interested in the construction of robots with LEGO pieces. Cirklo held a co-creation session to generate insights with the teams resulting in recommendations to improve the next iterations of the program in Mexico. The social benefit is enabling the teams to take concrete improvement actions that will improve the play and learning experiences of thousands of children in Mexico and the world.

In line with SDG 8, Decent Work and Economic Growth, Cirklo partnered with a local retail and “Fomento Social Citibanamex” to help an organic coffee cooperative from Chiapas, which was facing challenges such as entering the roasted coffee market in Mexico because of major brands, overcrowded sales channels and local producers not speaking Spanish. Cirklo created marketing strategies for products as well as strengthened its value proposition and supported the coffee cooperative taking its products to many cities through fair trade. The result is the creation of a new business model, which is responsible for the sales of Chiapas’ coffee cooperatives through mobile channels.

Conforming to SDG 11, Sustainable Cities and Communities, Cirklo worked with Bonafont in mapping the value chain of garbage in Mexico by identifying circular opportunities within the value chain and interactions of ecosystem to create new ideas to grow. They developed a tool to facilitate discussions and detect hypotheses on how to increase the collection and recycling of PET plastic waste. The result is that they find the most leveraged spaces in which they can intervene in the system to generate inclusive recycling projects in Mexico.

Interview

Daniela Martinez, Founding partner and Business Development

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Cirklo

Cirklo

Mexico City, Distrito Federal, MX

Business Website: https://cirklo.mx/en/home

Year Founded: 2012

Number of Employees: 11 to 50

Cirklo is a meaningful innovation consultancy based out of Mexico City. They have over 5 years experience working alongside top global corporations and foundations designing products, services and business models that drive positive changes for society and the environment.