Meet the 2017 SWITCH Africa Green-SEED Award Winners
New York, 13 July 2017 - Bags made from banana stem leftovers in Kenya, school benches manufactured from plastic waste and other locally sourced materials in Burkina Faso, improving livelihoods of coffee farmers and protecting mountain gorillas in Uganda—these are some highlights of the innovative 15 winners of this year’s SWITCH Africa Green-SEED Awards announced during the UN High Level Political Forum 2017 in New York.
The SEED global partnership recognizes the most innovative, environmentally friendly start-ups in developing countries and provides them with business know-how support and profile regionally & nationally to help them grow and share their experiences. By helping them to scale-up their activities, SEED aims to boost local economies and tackle poverty. SEED puts a strong focus on enabling global and local multi-stakeholder partnerships between governments, the private sector, and the civil society while promoting the sustainable use of resources and ecosystems.
The SAG-SEED Award winner will receive free access to supporting institutions and tailored one-on-one advisory service that offers assistance with their business and financial plan, as well as additional marketing and promotional activities by SEED. The support methodology and content is based on more than 10 years of experience in assisting eco-inclusive enterprises worldwide. The winners will also join a network of more than 200 enterprises from 38 countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America - laureates of the SEED Awards.
These 15 winning enterprises were selected by an independent Jury of International Experts out of more than 300 applications. The innovative enterprises are active in the sectors of agriculture, waste management, energy, manufacturing, biodiversity conservation and tourism.
SEED is all about helping spur innovation that protects our natural environment and accelerates development. Past winners have delivered grass-roots solutions on issues including waste management, renewable energy and sustainable agriculture. They see environmental protection not as a cost or a burden, but as an opportunity. As such, they are laying the foundations for what our planet needs: a fundamental shift towards a green economy.
- Erik Solheim, Head of UN Environment.
The 2017 SAG-SEED Award Winners
The 2017 SWITCH Africa Green (SAG) – SEED Awards are sponsored by the SWITCH Africa Green project implemented by UN Environment and funded by the European Union and the awards in South Africa are co-financed by the Government of Flanders. The Government of Flanders focus towards addressing climate change and its effects on South Africa.
SWITCH-Africa Green is implemented by UNEP with the assistance of the European Union. The European Union is made up of 28 Member States who have decided to gradually link together their know-how, resources and destinies. Together, during a period of enlargement of 50 years, they have built a zone of stability, democracy and sustainable development whilst maintaining cultural diversity, tolerance and individual freedoms. The European Union is committed to sharing its achievements and its values with countries and peoples beyond its borders.
The Government of Flanders is active in Malawi, Mozambique and South Africa. It works not only with the local authorities but also with indirect actors such as NGOs, research institutes, and international organizations. In South Africa, the focus is on job creation through Small Enterprise Development and improving food security through smallholder farming. As from 2017, the focus will move towards addressing climate change and its effects on South Africa.
Coopérative Sahel Vert encourages the generation and use of clean biogas and organic fertiliser by constructing and maintaining biodigesters in rural areas. Besides the various positive environmental impacts, the sale of surplus agricultural production and organic fertilisers offers households additional income opportunities.
Lagazel produces and markets sustainable solar lamps to light urban and rural households without access to electricity. The local production generates employment and compared to conventional light sources, the use of solar lamps contributes to climate change mitigation and healthier living conditions.
TECO2 markets school benches sustainably produced from plastic waste and other locally sourced input materials. As this mixture of materials substitutes wood as raw material in the production process, the enterprise contributes to the mitigation of deforestation and environmental pollution.
Ecological business models have a huge role to play in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. We congratulate this year’s SEED Winners for demonstrating that business really can be profitable whilst respecting nature and the environment. Their innovative ideas, supported by SEED and partner organizations, stand as examples for other businesses that are striving to fight poverty and climate change in ways that are sustainable.
- Achim Steiner, UNDP Administrator
RECFAM produces organic and biodegradable sanitary pads - PRIDE Pads - out of banana and plantain fibre for schoolgirls and women who lack access to proper menstrual hygiene products. Women are integrated into the whole value chain, receiving training and income opportunities.
WASHKing produces, supplies and installs biodigester toilets out of eco-friendly material for low-income urban households in order to improve health and economic conditions and to keep the environment clean. Training on using the toilet and after-sales services complement the package.
Horizon Business Ventures processes seed oil extracted from tree seeds and leaves and markets it to the local and international cosmetic industry. The enterprise builds capacity within local seed collection groups and thus offers employment opportunities through sustainable management of existing natural resources.
ICOSEED turns banana stems leftover from harvesting into fibre that can be used to make fabrics for bags, purses or table mats. The enterprise creates alternative income opportunities for farmers in the production of fibre and in the sewing of products.
Kencoco produces and sells charcoal briquettes from recycled agricultural coconut waste, charcoal dust and resells clean cookstoves. The products are a viable low-cost alternative to environmentally damaging fuels such as firewood, kerosene and wood charcoal.
Walali adds value to octopus and red bean - two products entrenched in the local culture of Rodrigues Island. The locally sourced raw materials are processed and packaged in retort pouches at the local production facility and marketed in Rodrigues and Mauritius.
In the context of perhaps our greatest global challenge – meeting growing consumer demands while managing increasingly overburdened natural resources, many eco-inclusive enterprises, such as those recognised in this year’s SEED Awards, are turning challenges into opportunities and, in so doing, are part of a vital step change in the way we do business. It is this new generation of entrepreneurs, and their solutions-oriented thinking, that will help us achieve a sustainable global economy that works with nature rather than against it.
- Inger Andersen, IUCN Director General
Ekasi Energy produces biomass cooking fuel and clean cooking appliances for informal settlements with little or no grid power. The alternative clean energy solutions reduce health threats caused by burning wood, charcoal and paraffin fires usually used for cooking.
iThemba Phakama is a voluntary association of informal waste pickers providing tricycles and safety gear to its members. The tricycles are used as an alternative to stolen shopping trolleys that many in the informal waste picking sector use illegally.
Umgibe Farming Organics and Training Institute supports local farming co-operatives with access to technology, training and markets. The enterprise capacitates urban and small-scale farmers to graduate into commercial business units using Umgibe’s cost-effective and sustainable growing system.
Brent Technologies uses an innovative, low-cost technology (S-TECH) to transform waste motor oil into fresh motor oil, diesel fuel and roofing asphalt shingles. This overcomes shortages of motor oil and diesel fuel and increases transportation to areas that have limited access to basic necessities.
GCCoffee is a for-profit social enterprise aiming to improve livelihoods of coffee farmers and protect mountain gorillas in the area. GCCoffee buys coffee at a premium, processes and sells it as a branded roasted coffee, whose purchase includes a donation to Conservation Through Public Health (CTPH).
Masupa Enterprises offers cheap and environmentally friendly cooking solutions to both urban and rural communities. Its briquettes are made from waste such as dry leaves, paper, peels and other fruit and vegetable waste and are sold together with cookstoves to households and commercial customers.