Exploiting the market opportunities of Climate Change: SAG-SEED Stimulates Eco-entrepreneurship

By Felix Donkor

Global climate change presents both risks and opportunities not only for individuals but also for businesses. Hence at the 21st Session of the Conference of the Parties to United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP21) in Paris, the private sector was given a greater responsibility to play a leading role in the quest for a greener future than previous meetings. At the COP 21, the Sustainable Innovation Forum 2015 in partnership with UNEP, convened 500+ attendees to enhance partnerships and leverage business innovation on climate change. This provided a platform for heads of business industries stretching from cement, to technology and renewables shored up their efforts to address climate change, making pledges to limit their carbon footprint, purchase more renewable energy and participate in sustainable resource management. Similarly global financial institutions promised to upscale investments in clean energy and energy efficiency.

SEED is one such global partnership for action on sustainable development and the green economy formed by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) at the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg. SEED is premised on the notion that the promotion of social and environmental enterprises is vital to a world of flourishing communities where entrepreneurship fuels sustainable development.

The SAG-SEED Starter enhances the incubation of new eco-enterprises. In the month of July, budding social entrepreneurs from across South Africa were hosted in Durban and Bloemfontein to fine-tune and enhance their green social enterprise ideas. The co-facilitators Rest Kanju and Cebisile Nyambe gave a background of the SEED. They explained that it has developed from a yearly global awards scheme that lookout for and assists the most promising innovative and locally-led social and environmental startup enterprises in developing nations to improving the quality and capacities of business development service providers.

SEED builds the ecosystem for social and environmental entrepreneurship. Furthermore they opined that SEED’s comprehensive programme triggers the full potential of market-based mechanisms to avert environmental degradation and tackle social problems. The project is premised on the idea that rolling out a business involves both excitement and challenge. Furthermore, transforming an idea into a product or service which will attract customers demands not only market penetration but also business acumen, a solid team and supportive partners. These requirements can be overwhelming and discouraging for a wannabe, hence SEED supports young teams of entrepreneurs with innovative ideas through the SAG-SEED Starter Months.

In 2016 during 5 Starter Months in South Africa, Mauritius, Kenya, Uganda and Ghana more than 120 participants worked on 54 new eco-enterprise ideas! SWITCH-Africa Green is implemented by UNEP with the assistance of the European Union.

SEED is hosted by Adelphi research GmbH, based in Berlin, Germany. Partners in SEED, in addition to the Founding Partners, are the governments of Flanders, Germany, India, the Netherlands, South Africa, and the United States of America; Conservation International; the European Union; SWITCHAfrica Green; Hogan Lovells; UNIDO; UN Women and SEED’s Corporate Partner, Hisense.