Celebrating Female Entrepreneurship on International Women’s Day 2018

At SEED, we embrace the potential of female entrepreneurs and are committed to empowering women. We not only offer equal-opportunity employment and encourage flexible working arrangements to assist families, but also take data-driven action globally to support women entrepreneurs working towards a greener economy and to accelerate female empowerment, including through our past SEED Gender Equality Award scheme.  

press for progress

Pressing for Progress

At SEED, we recognise that International Women’s Day 2018 is a time to Press for Progress. 

In 2009, a leading newspaper noted how the economic empowerment of women has been “one of the most remarkable revolutions” of the past 50 years. A 2015 study on startups even concluded female entrepreneurs outperformed male counterparts in the dataset of 300 startups with around 600 founders. Undoubtedly, the economic empowerment of women is also triggering dramatic, positive social change, especially in emerging markets. Nonetheless, the World Economic Forum’s 2017 Global Gender Gap Report estimates that gender parity is more than two centuries away from being accomplished. At SEED, we therefore recognise that International Women’s Day 2018 is a time to Press for Progress.




“Women’s economic empowerment is central to achieving gender equality.
With a livelihood and an income of their own, women have increased status, can provide for their families,
and become empowered in other parts of their lives as well,
such as making decisions about education, housing, food choices, and medical care.

“We are pleased to be working with SEED and supporting the SEED Gender Equality Awards
for the outstanding women-led social and environmental enterprises that are leading the way.”

-- Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Executive Director, UN Women 


SEED's Theory of Change

SEED Theory of Change

Our initiatives are focused particularly on low-income women and unemployed youth; we aim to catalyse job creation in formal and informal economies.

At SEED, we understand that socially- and environmentally-committed enterprises collectively yield transformative and positive impact for marginalised communities. Our initiatives are focused particularly on low-income women and unemployed youth; we aim to catalyse job creation in formal and informal economies. In keeping with our gender-sensitive strategies to reduce poverty and environmental degradation, we dedicated the SEED Gender Equality Awards to female entrepreneurs and continue to implement gender-sensitive policies for distributing all other SEED Awards, including the 2018 SEED Low Carbon Awards. In fact, more than 40% of all 239 SEED Award winners to date have been women entrepreneurs. 


SEED Gender Equality Awards

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The underlying goal behind the SEED Gender Equality Awards was to work towards a greener economy while also tackling poverty, marginalization and social exclusion.

We identified and supported women-led or -owned eco-inclusive small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) with the SEED Gender Equality Awards. The underlying goal behind the SEED Gender Equality Awards was to work towards a greener economy while also tackling poverty, marginalization and social exclusion. Award winners received a package of tailored support services consisting of capacity building, tools, profiling, network building and financing up to USD 5,000.*





Celebrating SEED Gender Equality Award winners

At SEED, we are making International Women’s Day a day to Press for Progress and celebrate female entrepreneurship to achieve a more gender-inclusive world and a greener economy. We are taking the day to reflect on the successes of women-led or owned eco-inclusive enterprises and celebrate nine SEED Gender Equality Award winners.

434 editDagoretti Market Biogas Latrine


Dagoretti Market Biogas Latrine is a female-run, community-based initiative that uses renewable energy options (biogas and solar) to address multiple community needs in sanitation and energy under one roof.

Days for Girls Uganda

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Days for Girls empowers women and girls in East Africa to take control of their bodies and finances by providing business training and access to menstrual hygiene. Uniquely designed reusable menstrual hygiene kits support girls and women to attend school and work, without anxiety or stigma over menstrual hygiene. Furthermore, women involved in production gain income and economic empowerment.

JITA Social Business Bangladesh Ltd.

JITA Social Business is an innovative rural distribution network, providing jobs and a regular income for women from low socio-economic communities across Bangladesh. Called Aparajitas - meaning “women who never accept defeat" – the women earn commission selling a range of products from solar lamps to food and sanitary items on a door-to-door basis.

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Kidogo Early Childhood Centres

Kidogo Early Childhood Centres offer high-quality, affordable and safe childcare options for families living in urban slums, allowing mothers and caregivers to work and attend school. The centres employ local women and operate as “centres of excellence” while supporting a local micro-financing program that provides local women – or “mamapreneurs”- a “business in a box” to start or grow their own micro-business in child care.






Life Out Of Plastic - L.O.O.P.

Life Out Of Plastic - L.O.O.P. is a 100% women-owned organisation that designs and sells green products such as reusable bags and fleece made from rPET fibre - a textile derived from bottle recycling. L.O.O.P.’s mission is to raise awareness among coastal communities about plastic pollution using market tools such as social media to fund education campaigns, art exhibitions, guided tours for school-groups, and beach clean-up activities, all teaching the value of marine ecosystems to communities.

2013 loopPrecious Life Foundation’s Outgrower Project

Precious Life Foundation’s Outgrower Project teaches bio-intensive, organic agricultural techniques to vulnerable women living at its shelter who then pass on their knowledge to the community. The enterprise empowers these women as teachers while working towards improved food security in Zimbabwe’s Matabeleland South Region. Women farmers who benefit from the training donate labour or produce back as a form of payment for service.


PROVOKAME produces innovative 100% biodegradable plates, made from natural fibres and recycled paper, which are implanted with seeds. The enterprise trains and employs local women living in rural areas in the plate production process. The enterprise contributes not only to the reduction of pollution and sustainable waste management but also creates job and income for women as well as promoting environmental awareness.

2011 SEED Winner Solid Waste Managemtn 7 edit

Solid Waste Management and Community Mobilization Program

The “Solid Waste Management and Community Mobilization Program” is a waste collection and recycling enterprise of over 1,000 households and businesses and is run by a women’s environmental committee and supported by a local municipality. Under the initiative, landfill waste is recycled and organic waste is upcycled to fuel biogas plants. A technical training program complements this initiative. Additionally, a savings and credit cooperative has been established to mobilise loans to 150 female members.

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Women’s Off-season Vegetable Production Group

Women’s Off-season Vegetable Production Group is a women-led initiative growing and marketing organic vegetables in a climate where weather usually limits year-round production. The enterprise deploys agricultural techniques, notably poly-tunnels and greenhouses, to help improve food security and nutrition while empowering marginalised women through job creation.




Continued Support for Entrepreneurs

We believe the Time is Now to Press for Change.

Consistent with our sustained efforts to catalyse gender parity, we implement gender-sensitive selection policies for all SEED Awards. This year, we invite all entrepreneurs – especially women and youth - leading eco-inclusive enterprises to apply for the 2018 SEED Low Carbon Awards, the application process is open until 03 April 2018. We believe the Time Is Now to Press for Change. 





#IWD18 #IWD2018 #TimeIsNow #PressforChange #genderparity #SEED #SEEDLowCarbonAward

*The SEED Gender Equality Awards have been supported by UN Women, the UN Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (2014, 2015), the SWITCH-Africa Green project, which is implemented by UNEP with the assistance of the European Union (2016), and the international law firm, Hogen Lovells.