Shaping Sustainable Development through Eco-entrepreneurship

Small, micro and medium enterprises (SMMEs) that pursue a triple bottom line approach offer one concrete means of achieving this shift to a Green Economy. This report highlights grassroots eco-enterprises, the types of impact they are achieving and the challenges and opportunities they face. Thirteen in-depth case studies of selected eco-enterprises that have won a SEED Award are used to showcase their contribution towards a greener economy, but also what main challenges inhibit them from scaling up.  

From the study it is clear that theses SMMEs achieve a mix of social, economic and environmental impacts through the goods and services they provide, as well as through the way they manage their enterprises. However, they face numerous challenges to sustain their growth and scale up. Challenges include: limited access to finance for working capital or investments for scale-up; gaps in business skills; unfavourable business environment; low financial sustainability and lack of TBL planning and monitoring. Opportunities for the eco-enterprises for further growth include: their unique market position close to local demand; partnerships and community engagement that provide access to various resources and networks; and capacities for innovation to address problems and needs in local communities.

In order to support the growth and scale-up of eco-enterprises, seven recommendations for policy can be drawn out:

  • Recognition and promotion of eco-enterprises in order to transition to a Green Economy
  • Provision of training in business development
  • Facilitation of access to finance
  • Facilitation of partnerships and networks
  • Support for target setting, monitoring and evaluation
  • Giving a voice
  • Support of a regulatory environment for eco-enterprises