African Entrepreneurs Recognised for Social and Environmental Innovation

Over 20 african entrepreneurs and start-up enterprises have been recognized for their social and environmental innovation in 2013 SEED Awards. The awards identify and support innovative social and environmental start-up enterprises, which can tackle key sustainable development challenges at community level, in developing and emerging economies.

As in previous years, the 2013 SEED Awards placed a special focus on Africa, with 20 awards being made to enterprises in Ethiopia, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Tanzania and Uganda. This is part of a larger project entitled ‘Stimulating the Green Economy in Africa‘, which is funded largely by the European Union, and a separate project funded by the Government of Flanders (Flanders International Cooperation Agency) to grant a further two Awards in the South African provinces of Free State, KwaZulu Natal and Limpopo.

SEED Awards 2013

Awamu Biomass Energy Ltd (ABE), Uganda. Photo: UNEP.


Fully biodegradable plates implanted with organic seeds in Colombia to provide food after use, a social media website to promote car-sharing in Viet Nam, certified cocoa for speciality markets, and affordable biodegradable sanitary pads made from banana waste are just some of the 34 winners of the 2013 SEED Awards.

Nuru Energy

Nuru Energy

Reflecting the growing need to encourage climate-smart enterprises at the grassroots level, a further 10 SEED Low Carbon Awards are being made to social and environmental enterprises that focus on mitigation and adaptation to climate change. Among the winners were Awamu Biomass Energy in Uganda which embraces the innovative design, manufacture and distribution of micro-gasifier stoves with a flat-pack design making them accessible to the last mile, using renewable energy from dry organic biomass, and increasing agricultural profitability and sustainability through environmentally responsible production of fuels; and Trees for Global Benefit which is is a cooperative carbon offsetting scheme linking small scale landholder farmers in Uganda to the voluntary carbon market, combining carbon sequestration with rural livelihood improvements through small-scale, farmer-led, agro-/forestry projects while reducing pressure on natural resources in national parks and forest reserves.

All the 2013 SEED winners were honoured at a high-level International Awards Ceremony at UNEP headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya on the day of a special SEED Symposium “Green Entrepreneurship: Local Solutions that Make a Difference” taking place in the framework of the Global South-South Development Expo.

The 2013 call for proposals saw applications from 85 countries, representing the collaborative efforts of partnerships between enterprises, non-governmental organizations, women and youth groups, labour organizations, public authorities, international agencies and academia.

Most of the applications were in the agricultural and rural development sectors, as well as in energy and climate change, and ecosystem management. Many entries at the same time addressed micro-enterprise development, IT applications, and education and training.

Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary-General, UNEP Executive Director:“These micro-companies are the little acorns from which big and mighty businesses could well grow, but they are more than that. These mini enterprises are achieving profitability, not at the expense of their environment or their communities, but by providing solutions to the social, economic and environmental challenges of our time. If proof is needed that a transition to an inclusive Green Economy is underway, then look no further than these remarkable entrepreneurs”.

The 2013 SEED Africa Award winners are:


  • Gogle Energy Saving Stoves is a renewable energy enterprise that produces improved cook stoves and briquettes for various end users all over Ethiopia, working in partnership with different international agencies and state institutions. This helps to reduce deforestation and contributes to the shift towards clean energy, while also providing income for local communities.


  • high atlas agriculture

    High Atlas Agriculture, Morocco.

    Au Grain de Sésame is an arts and crafts workshop which trains disadvantaged women to design and create organic products based on an innovative technique of recycling paper. Preserving and promoting the local art and cultural heritage, Au Grain de Sésame contributes to raising awareness of environmental conservation, while encouraging the choice of eco-friendly purchasing.

  • High Atlas Agriculture & Artisanal This enterprise aims to export organic farming products to generate a revenue stream that assists rural communities throughout the entire agricultural development cycle (tree nurseries, irrigation, training, organic certification, and marketing) and thus increases household incomes for rural families while preserving natural resources.


  • moWoza is a mobile phone marketplace platform that allows informal cross-border traders to access price-related information and an order and pre-pay inventory, and to receive delivery status notifications and access credit on their mobile phones. By empowering especially female traders to trade efficiently and transparently, moWoza improves the livelihoods of women and fosters their business activities in the communities.


  • The Dried Fish/Food Company Working in partnership with a community organization that empowers women entrepreneurs, this enterprise manages a value-added fish and food processing facility that focuses on solar dried products. They provide day-to-day food for rural and urban communities, proactively managing food security. As women are the primary distributors of the dried fish the enterprise is also working towards reducing the economic gender gap.

South Africa:

  • Nabidi Power

    Nabidi Power, South Africa.

    5 Star Stoves creates a local bio-energy value chain out of waste biomass, producing biomass pellets which are used in a updraft gasification stove to cook and heat. The stoves are assembled in the community and distributed locally via a franchising model. The enterprise thus generates income for the local community, encourages more efficient use of natural resources and also improves energy security by using local bio assets.

  • Farmer Eco Enterprise Development – FEED Africa develops conservation low-carbon agriculture for emerging organic farmers, helping to empower them as entrepreneurs. They bring support in management, training, mentorship and marketing skills, and connect the farmers to markets, enabling them to join the mainstream agricultural economy and to adapt to climate change.
  • Muthi Futhi is a community business which cultivates and processes indigenous medicinal plants for sale both as primary raw materials in bulk, and in the form of finished herbal products. Many of the plants cultivated are endangered in the wild due to over-harvesting, and this pioneering business is designed both to protect the biodiversity of KwaZulu-Natal and to create sustainable jobs for rural women.
  • Khulumani Gogos Going Green is a small enterprise initiated by elderly women living in rural areas who form savings clubs to enable them to gain access to solar lighting and electricity. It thus supports successful small enterprise development and management in the solar energy sector, while reducing women’s vulnerability to sexual assault and facilitating access to communication technology for rural communities.
  • MRDP Sunwater aims to supply solar water heating through black PVC pipe systems allowing communities and especially women and children to save time, money and trees. This heating system is well accepted in the community and easy to maintain. By reducing the need to gather firewood to heat water, MRDP Sunwater helps the community to manage their natural resources sustainably.
  • NABIDI Power aims to develop and distribute lamps, radios and chargers designed to operate for days at a time without recharging. Being the first products with casings manufactured from a new bio-plastic made from sugar cane waste, their energy products help mitigate climate change and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
  • The Duncan Village Secondary Recycling Cooperative collects and recycles organic waste, processing it into valuable nutrients i.e. compost, vermi-compost, organic food, and biogas, enabling communities to capture the full value of their organic waste resources. By using best practices in food composting and urban food production, the enterprise contributes to improve community waste management.


  • Agroforestry for sustainable land use and economic empowerment is a land use change initiative which targets smallholder farmers through community groups, allowing them to plant mostly native trees and various commercial viable crops such as nuts, beans, maize and rice that are subsequently sold through local grocery markets. While facilitating access to markets for its members, the enterprise also contributes to forest protection and conservation.

    Life Hospital Gardens

    Sustain for Life Hospital Gardens

  • BanaPads Social Enterprise produces comfortable sanitary pads from natural agricultural waste materials. They are low-cost, fully biodegradable, safe and hygienic, and made locally, following international standards. The objective of this enterprise is to reduce absenteeism of schoolgirls in rural and poor communities while creating a women’s entrepreneur network through which the pads are distributed and sustainable independent micro-businesses are established.
  • Blessed Bee for Life” This apiculture enterprise makes hive tools and equipment available to farmers while also teaching them beekeeping and assisting with gaining market access for their honey. Women are fully integrated into the honey value chain, reducing not only extreme poverty among the rural communities but also environmental degradation.
  • “Busia Waste to Energy-Eco-briquette Production Enterprise seeks to provide alternatives to charcoal and firewood by collecting waste for the production of eco-briquettes. The enterprise, run by women, also trains local communities in technical aspects of solid waste management and sensitizes them to the importance of forest protection.
  • Cocoa Project promotes certified organic cocoa production and strengthens the capacity of farmers to carry out effective sustainable farming practices in order to tap into speciality export markets. While continuously improving the farms in terms of production, productivity and quality, the enterprise contributes to sustainable agricultural and green business development.
  • Growing a Sustainable Future: Sustain for Life Hospital Gardens In partnership with an international and a Ugandan NGO, two hospitals created this enterprise to harvest organic farming products that deliver nutritious food for hospital patients and staff members while training vulnerable and marginalised community members in organic farming.
  • GRS Commodities Ltd.” The enterprise has developed a biogas plant which utilises agricultural waste such as manure collected from local farmers, and other biowaste such as water hyacinth, to produce renewable energy for rural communities and off grid applications. Also in development is a rice husk gasification plant.
  • Pumpkin Value Addition Enterprise By using a climate-resistant crop, this enterprise proposes an alternative to traditional food plants and gives women an opportunity to start small-scale businesses that generate healthy value-added food products. They offer women technical skills training in pumpkin value addition and also link these women entrepreneurs to the market and to financial institutions.


  • TiaNuru

    Tia Nuru, Tanzania.

    KARIBU Solar Power A modular solar lamp that is sold via a franchising network is the value proposition of this enterprise. By paying in small increments, which replicate the required cash flow for kerosene, KARIBU is making high quality solar lighting and mobile phone charging affordable, allowing also poorer communities to enjoy the benefits of solar lighting and energy.

  • Tia Nuru This enterprise enables and empowers individuals through consultation, educational events and training in how to build sustainable living systems. This comprises cob building, compost toilets, grey-water re-use systems, and sustainable farming. In this way the enterprise reduces the environmental footprint of their customers while promoting new services to the local community and preserving local resources.

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