The Right to Repair is a global movement to ensure everyone has the right to fix the products they own and supports sustainable and responsible consumerism. Commonwealth Alumnus Dr Badziili Nthubu organised a Repairs Ecosystem Workshop in Gaborone, Botswana, to bring together entrepreneurs in the country working in the service and manufacturing industries. The purpose of the workshop was to facilitate discussion amongst entrepreneurs on the repairs ecosystem and how repairs can support efforts geared towards protecting our environment.

Headshot of Dr. Nthubu

Dr Nthubu is a lecturer and researcher at Botswana International University of Science & Technology and an expert in developing and using design methods and tools to support entrepreneurs in building ecosystems. The workshop was co-delivered with Tebogo Mogaleemang, Director and owner of Spectrum Analytics Botswana and Stanbic Bank Accelerator.

Climate change affects many economies across the world and Botswana is no exception. Increasing heat waves, destructive rainfall, and droughts significantly impact the livelihoods of those living in vulnerable agrarian communities in rural areas. According to the Second National Communication to the United Nations framework on Climate Change, Botswana’s greenhouse gas emissions contribute to 5% of Africa’s total 3.8% global emissions. Although this is a small percentage share globally, the Botswana draft policy on climate change requires development, diffusion, and transfer of new and clean energy technologies to reduce the country’s carbon footprint.

Dr Nthubu’s ACEF activity was designed to introduce and promote the importance of repair ecosystems to entrepreneurs in the service and manufacturing industries. The provision of a repairs service can contribute to a reduction in waste leading to positive climate action. Additionally, the Right to Repair movement has the potential to create new networks across industries seeking to develop repair processes which may lead to the development of new technologies and a reduction in the country’s carbon footprint.

Building a repair ecosystem

The theme of the workshop was ‘Repair ecosystems for climate change’. The workshop content was drawn from Dr Nthubu’s CSC-funded doctoral research which highlighted that co-design workshops and visualisation tools can effectively be used to activate local entrepreneurial ecosystems to create new shared value. The workshop brought together entrepreneurs representing 20 companies in the service and manufacturing industries who could play a key role in developing a repairs ecosystem in Botswana. Participants represented the catering, textile, leather, and plastic processing industries, data analytics, marketing agencies, and environmental consultancies to name a few.

The key message from the workshop was that building more connections amongst diverse entrepreneurs can support the creation of a repairs network in which consumers and entrepreneurs can repair and re-use goods rather than disposing of these when they no longer work. The benefits of such an approach include a reduction in waste, increased economic value of goods and manufacturing skills, and the promotion of sustainable and responsible consumerism leading to positive climate action.

The workshop

Opening the workshop, Dr Nthubu introduced participants to the Right to Repair movement and the repair laws which are being developed in the UK and USA. Building on this, he presented on the significance and role of design and repair ecosystems in promoting climate action.

Following the opening presentations, participants were split into mixed groups of entrepreneurs to complete activities designed to help them identify ways in which they could develop their own repairs ecosystem within and across their industries. Participants used creative methods such as network mapping tools to co-create and collaborate on ideas in their diverse groups. The exercise was tailored to support all participants irrespective of their level of education and background in understanding how repair ecosystems can promote climate action. Using a co-design approach, participants used sticky notes to share information on their work, skills, and repair requirements and any existing repairs networks. Participants then used string to highlight where connections and networks could be formed to develop a local repairs network, as well as to identify gaps.

Inspiring climate action

At the end of the workshop, all participants reported that the workshop had helped them to make new connections with organisations and expand and develop a repairs network. They also shared that the workshop increased their knowledge of repairs ecosystems and how these can contribute to tackling climate change issues.

‘I have learned a lot of knowledge and skills about how repair ecosystems can lead to climate action from the workshop. I think I can start applying this knowledge to expand my repair networks with new contacts.’ Catering firm representative

Tebogo Mogaleemang, a data analytics expert and social entrepreneur delivered the workshop keynote on the importance of developing entrepreneurial ecosystems around repairs and how that can lead to climate action. In his speech, he highlighted his own work with entrepreneurs in Botswana promoting social entrepreneurship and the local innovation ecosystem.

‘This workshop brought different stakeholders together which is good to grow the local ecosystem. More workshops, seminars and conferences of this nature should be organised to share knowledge and awareness on repairs and climate action.’ Consulting firm representative

The workshop also empowered participants with the co-design and visualisation skills and tools to organise workshops on their own to expand their business ecosystem.

‘This workshop creates awareness on the repair value chain that we can all benefit from in the long run. Mapping contacts made us aware of our stakeholders and lobbying power which might be useful working with government.’ Group 1 response (Data analytics, catering, renewable energy firm representatives)

Overall, Dr Nthubu is pleased to report that the co-design workshop achieved its main goal to bring together entrepreneurs to exchange knowledge about repair ecosystems and how these can help address climate change issues, and to map repair networks and identify how they can collaborate to promote repair ecosystems and climate action.

In the long-term Dr Nthubu is continuing to work with Spectrum Analytics Botswana to continue the conversation of repair ecosystems with the participants. Participants were also encouraged to spread the word about repairs and make further connections to expand their networks. Together, Dr Nthubu and Tebogo intend to apply for further funding to conduct more repair ecosystem workshops across the country. They hope this initiative may raise further awareness and build more repair connections that may in turn lead to climate action.