SEED 20 Years Celebration in Malawi
SEED 20th Anniversary and BioFA Project Launch
Lilongwe, Friday 18th November 2022 – A celebration was held at Bingu International Conference Centre to mark the 20th anniversary of the SEED programme and the launch of the Biodiversity Finance Accelerator (BioFA) project in Malawi. The event brought together eco-inclusive and biodiversity enterprises supported by SEED and BioFA programmes, as well as supporters and implementing partners in the climate-smart entrepreneurship space.
The BioFA project is launched to help entrepreneurs scale their business operations with an aim to mobilise investments for biodiversity-positive enterprises in Malawi and Zambia. BioFA supports biodiversity-positive micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) in accessing finance and investing into growth. The project also trains financial institutions and other ecosystem players in conservation finance to co-create innovative financing instruments for biodiversity MSMEs.
This month, BioFA in collaboration with SEED hosted the Practitioner Labs: Green Finance for Climate Adaptation & Biodiversity in Malawi. The Labs seek to facilitate a hands-on process that results in targeted green finance solutions, which support the growth of MSMEs that are actively delivering biodiversity solutions and championing climate adaptation efforts across their value chains. There are two workshops in Lilongwe, a Kick-Off Lab (17-18 November 2022) and a Scale-Up Lab (24 November 2022), with panel expert presentations, co-creation sessions and knowledge sharing, and networking. The Practitioner Labs is a tried and tested concept for multi-stakeholder collaboration and co-creation to produce tangible outputs that drive forward existing initiatives for green finance. Other past iterations of the Practitioner Labs are SEED Practitioner Labs for Policy Prototyping & Climate Finance (South Africa, Uganda, Ghana, Indonesia, Thailand, India) and UGEFA Green Finance Academy Trainings and Innovation Lab (Uganda).
In 2023, BioFA is planning to organise Biodiversity Finance Trainings for Financial and Public Institutions and a Replicator programme.
In celebration of SEED 20th anniversary, the event also reflected on SEED activities globally and highlighted its support for eco-inclusive entrepreneurship in Malawi since 2014. SEED has granted awards to 40+ Malawian enterprises who have gone on to benefit from the SEED Catalyser and SEED Accelerator programmes. In 2019, SEED hosted a National Dialogue Forum on eco-inclusive entrepreneurship in Lilongwe, bringing together 120 enterprises, financing institutions, policy makers and donors. Currently, SEED is piloting two new components in Malawi, including SEED Enterprise Advocacy Support – which aims at empowering SEED-supported enterprises to advocate for their interests, and SEED TVET module – which aims at building the capacities of vocational training institutes in Malawi to provide business incubation services for their students and graduates.
Supported enterprises from both BioFA and SEED programmes pitched their business models and showcased their products at the event, including: Agwenda Enterprise, Malaika Enterprise, Honey Products Malawi, Smart Energy Enterprise (SEE) and Tac-Maz Sustainable Ventures. Further examples of eco-inclusive and biodiversity-positive enterprises can be found here.
The welcome remarks were presented by Sofie Geerts, the Deputy General Representative of Flanders in Malawi, in which she praised SEED for its long-standing support to enterprises, highlighting success stories such as Hortinet (SEED Africa Award Winner 2015), local horticultural producers, who have recently cooperated with the Belgian University KU Leuven to further multiply their crop seedlings. She also highlighted the private sector as a key stakeholder in both urban and rural development. “Enterprises now are more than ever required to play a much more prominent role in the development process.”
Additionally, a keynote speech was presented by Michael Makonombera, the Deputy Director at Environmental Affairs Department. He highlighted the importance of biodiversity, saying “if we degrade nature and biodiversity, we degrade the basis for our own existence.” He further reaffirmed that the Government of Malawi is committed to taking urgent action to conserve biodiversity and ensure a sustainable future and prosperity for Malawi in line with Malawi Vision 2063. He says, “The government is open to working with partners to join the race towards biodiversity conservation in the country, and is pleased to welcome BioFA in the race as well. Conservation of nature is a collective responsibility”.
The BioFA project is implemented by adelphi (Germany), Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (Malawi), UMODZI Consulting (Malawi) and the Women's Entrepreneurship Access Centre – WEAC (Zambia). This project is part of the International Climate Initiative (IKI) supported by the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Nuclear Safety and Consumer Protection (BMUV) of Germany.