SEED-supported enterprises applauded as green economy innovators at PAGE
Advancing inclusive and sustainable economies during 2019 PAGE Ministerial Conference
10-11 January 2019 | Cape Town, South Africa
The 2019 PAGE Ministerial Conference drew attention to "Advancing Inclusive and Sustainable Economies" on 10 and 11 January 2019. By participating in the conference in Cape Town, South Africa, SEED highlighted the importance of supporting small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) to realise and strengthen inclusive and green economies.
With innovative socially inclusive and environmentally friendly business models, outstanding small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) around the world are already driving the green economy transition. At SEED, we continued to be inspired by the eco-inclusive enterprises that we work with which generate lasting collective impacts and local green jobs for marginalised communities. These SMEs, often neglected as unsung champions of the green economy, could better realise their full potential with additional and more targeted multi-stakeholder support.
SEED was at the 2019 PAGE Ministerial Conference in early January to fuel wider spread support for eco-inclusive entrepreneurship. SEED facilitated a collaborative parallel event at the conference, welcomed diverse stakeholders to the SEED Exhibition Booth, and shared insights throughout into eco-inclusive enterprise success as evidenced by SEED Award Winners and Direct Enterprise Support programme participants.
SEED Side Event | Eco-Inclusive Enterprises: Success Stories & Support Mechanisms
During a side event, SEED outlined success stories of SMEs contributing to the Green Economy with inspiring case studies, including from the 2018 SEED Low Carbon Award Winners sponsored by the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU) together with the International Climate Initiative (IKI) and in South Africa by the Government of Flanders. SEED also showcased promising support mechanisms that empower SMEs and an ecosystem of enterprise advocates to tackle enterprises’ major challenges such as access to financing or a lack of adequate business management skills:
The SEED Business Development Support+ (BDS+) programme has proven itself to create more enabling environments within which SMEs are empowered with tailored support and tools to flourish. Alongside various activities involving capacity building for a network of trained BDS+ Advisors, SEED is driving forward the development of a BDS+ Standard in South Africa to ensure and celebrate examples of high quality and transparent business development services.
SEED Practitioner Labs Climate Finance bring together organisations, businesses and stakeholders to jointly address the significant financing challenges that SMEs face especially in developing and emerging economies and co-create tangible climate finance products that increase deal flow to the missing middle of eco-inclusive SMEs. These action-oriented SEED Labs are sponsored by the BMU through IKI.
SEED Exhibition Booth | Eco-Inclusive Entrepeneurship for Green Economy Transition
Eco-inclusive enterprises provide market-based solutions for enabling economies and society to mitigate and adapt to climate challenges. At its exhibition booth, SEED welcomed visitors, including Nomvula Mokoyane, South African Minister for Environment, and demonstrated the immense potential of these enterprises to drive the green economy transition.
The booth featured five inspiring SEED Low Carbon Award Winners 2018 from Colombia, India, Tanzania, Thailand and Uganda that offer innovative products and services for climate change adaptation and mitigation. Their socially inclusive and green solutions span from a mobile app that eases waste management and green consumption, decentralised organic fertilizer production, urban composting solutions, upcycled and durable construction materials, to eco-efficient cooking fuel and appliances.
SEED presented its policy recommendations for a green economy transition, fortified during the Green Economy Coalition Global Meeting 2019 which directly preceded PAGE, along with outcomes of the SEED Practitioner Labs Climate Finance cycles in 2018. During these Labs, representatives of financial institutions came together in India, Thailand in Uganda to turn challenges into solutions and develop tangible and robust prototypes that innovate the next generation of climate finance products and deliver much needed financing to small and growing enterprises.
Luncheon | Social & Financial Innovation for Inclusive, Sustainable Economic Transformation
Rest Kanju, SEED South Africa Coordinator (hosted by Indalo Inclusive), addressed the leaders luncheon and emphasised the need to celebrate and devote additional resources to supporting smaller socially inclusive and environmentally sustainable enterprises. Mr Kanju reiterated the ample evidence at our fingertips of social and green innovation on the ground. However, further support is needed by all actors, including SEED and those present at the PAGE conference, to design and expand offers for tailored business development and capacity building support for eco-inclusive enterprises.
On behalf of SEED, Mr Kanju urged governments to devote more resources to mitigating the risks of investment in new ideas by aspiring entrepreneurs. The initial leveraging of government financial support, for support services targeted at growth in eco-inclusive entrepreneurship, noted Mr Kanju, will create the necessary private sector incentives to carry momentum forward.
Parallel Session | Insights and Green Awards
During the PAGE session on Insights and Green Awards, United Nations representative, Iraís Martínez, guided conference attendees through a celebration of South Africa innovators. SEED was lauded by Ms Martínez for its various Enterprise Support programmes that help innovators and entrepreneurs to put sustainability-thinking into practice.
The ceremony commended three South Africa innovators who have been recognised by SEED and the Equator Initiative for their clean and affordable energy and inclusive and sustainable farming and agricultural solutions. Each innovator was invited on stage to tell the story of how (s)he grew his/her business and continues to contribute to advancing the green economy.
Dave Lello, Founder of Ekasi Energy (SAG-SEED Award Winner 2017), manufactures biomass pellets compressed from wood waste. To optimise the ease of use and environmental benefits offered by these pellets, Mr Lello’s enterprise designed the FAABulous Cooking Stove which greatly reduces household air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions in comparison with other biomass cooking alternatives. Ekasi Energy expanded its product range to meet demands for the latest solar generation and battery storage technologies for lighting, mobile devices and other useful household appliances.
"Fuel supply often is imported from electricity suppliers... we need to generate economic activity at the township level using waste in the community & turning them into reusable fuels we can use in green cookstoves."
– Dave Lello, Ekasi Energy (SEED Award Winner 2017)
Alida Afrika, General Manager of Heiveld Cooperative, works with smallholder rooibos farmers to access organic and fair-trade certification. Heiveld Cooperative primarily focuses on marginalised native Khoisan Africans who are cultivating drought-resistant varieties and sustainably harvesting and producing rooibos. The cooperative reinvests products back into the community and services, including through health programmes, water access and education. As a green economy innovator, the cooperative has helped local tea farming incomes to increase by 400 percent, while reducing soil erosion tremendously.
Pheladi Chiloane, social entrepreneur, community developer and environmentalist (Alumna ofSEED Replicator programme) took the stage at PAGE to shares how her initiative, African Agricultural Solutions, improves value chains and the agricultural practices of subsistence farmers. Ms Chiolane’s enterprise introduces alternative sustainable agricultural solutions in Mpumalanga province. The enterprise supports smallholder farmers to combine modern and traditional sustainable agriculture practices that generate employment and reduce food insecurity in rural communities.
"The SEED Replicator programme connected me to a business mentor in India who visited me in my rural community & helped me build my eco-inclusive business model."
– Pheladi Chiloane, SEED Replicator Alumna
SEED came away from the PAGE Ministerial Conference and Green Economy Coalition Global Meeting 2019 with a clearer sense, among other core outputs, of how SMEs can and should feature more prominently in the global green economy transition through multi-stakeholder action which focuses on:
- Commitment to a focused “try and see” approach to policy that prioritises piloting policy interventions targeted at SMEs, such as those resulting from ongoing SEED Policy Prototyping Labs and the application of SEED Prototyping Tools at high-level events (including the GEC meeting).
- Engagement with SMEs at the local level via associations or networks to better raise up and amplify SME voices and encourage peer-to-peer exchanges, thus pooling the transaction costs and easing processes of policy engagement. At SEED, this means building on its multi-stakeholder Ecosystem Building activities for collaboration, financing and business development support networks.
- Extension of financial access assistance for SMEs at the start-up stage to improve market access and finance the ‘missing middle’ of entrepreneurial potential, including by fuelling support for the co-creation and implementation of targeted climate finance products developed during the SEED Practitioner Labs Climate Finance process.
- Tailoring of business support and legal capacity building to build on lessons in success of social and environmental enterprises as well as these enterprises’ bottom line. At SEED, the Business Development Support+ programme builds the capacities of a network BDS+ Advisors with business development tools and insights gathered from over fifteen years supporting eco-inclusive enterprises across the globe.
Stay tuned for more SEED News in 2019 to follow progress on commitments to featuring eco-inclusive SMEs more prominently in global green economy actions.