Tools, Tools, Tools – the SEED Training of Trainers (TOT) in South Africa created a sound support base for green, inclusive SMEs
EcoBrick Exchange educates local communities in South Africa on the production of simple, reusable building bricks – done by filling PET bottles with rubbish – to construct early childhood centres and other community buildings. A SEED Winner of 2015, the enterprise not only empowers communities by enabling them to produce their own building materials but also by creating a new way of recycling waste and thus educating people about environmental awareness.
However, enterprises such as EcoBrick face large challenges on the way to making their businesses work. Successfully integrating social and environmental thinking into their business plans, acquiring and managing suitably educated staff as well as knowledge gaps in business management in general, are only some of the largest internal hurdles.
Supporting social and environmental enterprises by building capacity with local consultants
As part of its extensive programme that has been built around an annual awards scheme promoting social and environmental entrepreneurship in developing countries, SEED developed a unique toolkit that addresses these key issues and lays out guidelines how to strategically integrate the imperatives of sustainability into businesses. It is based on the Triple Bottom Line (TBL) approach, encouraging entrepreneurs to not only measure and report on their single bottom line performance, i.e. financial outcomes, but also on social and environmental impacts.
As part of a regional programme funded by the Government of Flanders, SEED has held a series of training in Malawi, Namibia, Mozambique and South Africa to make its methodology available also to a wider number of local MSME consultants and Business Development Support (BDS) providers, and has now offered a BDS+ Training of Trainers on Social & Environmental Enterprise Development in Cape Town, South Africa from 23-25 November 2015.
A total of 17 trainers were selected from over 39 applicants from a number of countries including Zimbabwe, Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya, Malawi and South Africa. The participants brought to the table backgrounds in rural agriculture development, finance as well as incubation and corporate foundations, forming a highly qualified and diverse group.
During the three day sessions, the participants went through an intense programme applying the SEED methodology to fictitious case studies that were however derived from actual cases in the energy, agriculture or waste sectors. From value proposition and relationships to market analysis, marketing, funding strategies and risk management; the workshops covered a broad range of dominant issues for SMEs. The participants’ feedback gave credit to this holistic approach. Next, to the skills and confidence earned by the structured methodology training, the networking and peer-learning opportunities offered by the Training of Trainers workshop were especially well received.
The training was hosted by ABSA Bank (a subsidiary company of the Barclays Group) at the Woodstock Bandwidth Barn, Africa’s leading technology business incubator and a truly fitting and inspiring space.
To learn more about other SEED activities please browse our website or download the 10 Year SEED Flagship Report. On 15-16 March 2016, the next SEED South Africa Symposium will take place, focusing on the topic of impact investment and BDS support in South Africa. For further information on #SEEDSAS16 please visit the event page.
This article is part of a series about SEED Training of Trainer (ToT) sessions on social and environmental entrepreneurship in selected African countries. Read more about the last ToT Greening South Africa’s economy: improved business development support for social and environmental enterprises.