This year’s SEED Awards were announced on the occasion of the SEED Malawi National Dialogue Forum in Lilongwe.
The awards recognise fourteen innovative start-up enterprises from Africa and Asia active in sustainable agriculture and aquaculture, waste, renewable energy, water and sanitation, sustainable tourism, biodiversity and conservation.
SEED Award winners are exceptional and inspiring examples of partnership-based, locally-driven enterprises that contribute to fighting poverty and tackling climate change in their communities and countries.
Take Nelplast, a Ghanaian enterprise which turns plastic waste into pavement slabs and tiles that are 800 percent stronger than ordinary pavement blocks. This enterprise, which works mainly with youth and women, has collected and recycled over two tons of plastic every day, preventing this waste from ending up in landfills.
Kukula Solar from Malawi has set itself the goal of ensuring that one million low-income women and their families have access to quality, affordable and warranted solar products by 2030.
Indonesian enterprise Mycotech creates leather-like material and products from fungus. Its 100 percent vegan and zero waste philosophy is an example to the fashion industry, which is one of the most polluting in the world.
Ms Svenja Schulze, German Federal Minister for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU), one of the main supporters of the Awards, highlighted the importance of these enterprises in advancing the SDGs: “To achieve the SDGs, everyone needs to contribute. This award highlights the innovative potential of small green and social enterprises and showcases the economic and social opportunities for often marginalized communities. It serves as a great motivation for others to follow.”
Head of Unit at the Flanders Department of Foreign Affairs, Delphine Delouvroy, said: “Flanders believes multi-actor partnerships are crucial to support the necessary systemic change to deliver on the SDGs. In addition to partnerships, innovation and new ways of thinking that question traditional models are essential elements of the transition.
"By supporting the SEED program Flanders wants to support innovative entrepreneurs. The program contributes to the Flemish climate finance engagements, as Flemish support for (eco-inclusive) SMME-development in Southern Africa.”
This year’s winners were selected from over 900 applicants from Ghana, India, Indonesia, Malawi, South Africa, Thailand, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Youth-led enterprises led the way, comprising 62 percent of overall applications and 48 percent of the applications were from female-led enterprises.
UNDP Administrator, Achim Steiner, said: "The winners of the SEED Awards are unique in that they deliver grassroots products and services which benefit not only the environment but also local economies and particular groups such as women and youth.
"As such, they are contributing to the resilience of communities, a fundamental shift towards a more inclusive green economy and broader efforts to achieve the SDGs.”
As well as being awarded matching grants, winning and finalist enterprises will also receive tailored one-on-one advisory services for several months to validate and grow their operations.
The SEED winners will join the SEED Accelerator programme to refine their financial and business models with a view to scaling up and replicating their activities.
In line with this principle, 52 finalists will be supported through the SEED Catalyser programme, to refine their business models and optimise their impacts while advancing their investment readiness.
The winners will join a network of more than 240 enterprises from 38 countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America - laureates of the SEED Awards.
SEED Executive Director, Lewis Akenji highlighted the importance of the awards: “The SEED Awards have a refined process of working with partners to identify future-oriented solutions. Winning enterprises are sure to impact their communities with solutions that can be adapted in other locations and scaled to contribute to address global issues.
"We encourage entrepreneurs, development partners, policy makers and implementers to take a closer look at these eco-inclusive businesses and draw from them to amplify their impacts.”
This article is based on a press release from the GSCC.