African Green Entrepreneurs Receive Global Recognition

Green entrepreneurs from across the African continent were celebrated at the 2014 SEED Awards Africa Symposium in Nairobi this month – making the event one of the largest gatherings of start-up social and environmental enterprises.

Copyright: UNEP

Copyright: UNEP

The theme for the Awards this year was “Making growth sustainable: co-creating solutions through social and green entrepreneurship.” The SEED 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 2014 SEED Awards have a special focus on Africa, with 28 Awards made to enterprises in Ethiopia, Malawi, Morocco, Mozambique, South Africa, Tanzania and Uganda. A further ten SEED Low Carbon Awards go to climate-smart enterprises across the globe that contribute towards grassroots climate change mitigation and/or adaption. Special recognition is also given to three women-led enterprises that promote gender equality and women’s empowerment as their core objectives.

Every SEED Award Winner will receive a financial contribution, technical assistance, access to different supporting institutions, and tailor-made support to develop their business and skills.

From an enterprise that produces premium outdoor furniture out of recycled plastic and organic waste materials in Colombia, to a women’s farming cooperative that improves food security in Nepal, to enterprises that market solar electricity kiosks in rural off grid areas of Malawi and promote bikes as subsidised moving billboards for the rural poor in Mozambique – this year’s SEED Winners again demonstrate that innovation, working in partnerships, and a dedicated focus on sustainability contribute significantly towards building a world of flourishing communities in which eco-entrepreneurship drives sustainable development.

“The SEED Winners are visionaries who are spearheading the green economy among diverse communities and across a wide range of sectors. We are especially proud of the SEED’s acknowledgement of women-led green enterprises having introduced the Gender Equality component since 2011,” said Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary-General, UNEP Executive Director.

The 2014 SEED Low Carbon Award winners from Africa include L’s Solution in Tanzania which promotes and sells solar powered lamps, chargers and cookstoves at village trade fairs and installs larger-scale devices such as solar water pumps and solar PV panels; Green Heat from Uganda – an enterprise installing and marketing biogas digesters that convert decaying organic material from latrines and agricultural waste into biogas fuel for cooking and heating; and Kumudzi Kuwale in Malawi which provides renewable energy solutions to off grid communities by selling cookstoves, lamps and lanterns, by supplying electricity at village charging stations, and by installing larger-scale solar energy projects.  

Over 2014 SEED Award winners from Africa include:

  • “Mesula – Meru Sustainable Land” in Tanzania, which supports bio-intensive farming by providing Arusha smallholder farmers with technical advice on how to convert to organic farming. 
  • “Budongo Women Bee Enterprise” in Uganda which is a co-operative beekeeping enterprise producing honey and beeswax products. In mobilising women in the Masindi region to become beekeepers, the enterprise uses the honey business as a vehicle for community development, including promotion of sustainable land-use and climate change adaptation. 
  • “Recycling for Environmental Recovery” in Morocco which recycles plastic waste to produce secondary raw materials that are used in the lucrative plastics industry. Women waste workers are trained about the health and safety hazards and encouraged to join a co-operative to help regulate waste collection. 
  • “Mozambikes” in Mozambique which engages in breaking the poverty cycle in Mozambique by selling locally-built custom-designed bikes at low prices. The enterprise enlists the private and public sectors to buy and distribute branded bikes in remote communities for various marketing and employee initiatives. The bikes then act as ‘moving billboards’, while women are trained how to ride and maintain the bikes. 

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