SEED awards for social and environmental entrepreneurs
The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has announced the 30 winners of the 2010 SEED Awards, recognising inspiring social and environmental entrepreneurs whose businesses can help meet sustainable development challenges.
Nomadic villagers in China discuss SolSource, one of the winning initiatives in the 2010 SEED Awards
The winners include a novel solar device that turns waste heat into electricity in rural China, a Ugandan business manufacturing stationery from agricultural waste, bamboo bicycle and shea nut projects in Ghana and a female-run business in South Africa making a hand-held laundry device that saves water.
Two Ghanaian award winners: The Bamboo Bikes Initiative and Shea Economic Empowerment Program
Encouraging entrepreneurship for a green economy
The SEED Initiative, hosted by UNEP, helps entrepreneurs to scale-up their activities, in order to boost local economies and tackle poverty, while promoting the sustainable use of resources and ecosystems.
Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary-General and UNEP Executive Director, explained the relevance of the awards:
“The SEED Award winners exemplify the strong spirit of entrepreneurship in the developing world and its significance in creating a Green Economy. While the Awards recognize individual outstanding projects, governments must also show leadership in supporting grassroots efforts through diverse and dynamic standards, forward-looking policies and incentives to further catalyze corporate and community-led change.”
Amongst the winners
This year, as well as seeking innovative start-ups throughout the developing world, the awards had a special focus on Africa, placing particular emphasis on initiatives from South Africa, Burkina Faso, Kenya, Egypt, Ghana, Rwanda and Senegal.
The winners receive from SEED a package of individually-tailored support for their business, including access to relevant expertise and technical assistance, meeting new partners and building networks, developing business plans and identifying sources of finance.
Amongst the thirty 2010 winners are:
- Manufacture and Popularization of Biomass Briquettes, Burkina Faso
Replacing wood and charcoal with biomass briquettes from fallen leaves and other sources of unused biomass;
- SolSource, China
Satellite dish-shaped solar device with removable modules that turns its own waste heat into electricity or stores it in thermal fabrics for later use;
- Bamboo Bikes Initiative, Ghana
Manufacturing and assembling high-quality bamboo bikes – suitable for the road conditions and terrain in Ghana and affordable to the poor;
- Shea Economic Empowerment Program (SEEP), Ghana
Improving the livelihoods of women shea nut producers by offering training, greater ownership within the supply chain and access to improved technology;
- Backpack Farm Agriculture Program, Kenya:
Providing small landholders with a dynamic set of agricultural tools, comprehensive training and monitoring – delivered and distributed in a canvas backpack;
- Production and Distribution of Pressurized Biogas in Gas Cylinders, Rwanda
Producing and storing pressurised biogas for cooking made from urban, domestic and industrial wastes;
- Micro Power Economy for Rural Electrification, Senegal
Off-grid power system operation and the utilisation of renewable energy sources, such as wind-solar-diesel hybrid power systems;
- IziWasha, South Africa
Handheld laundry device to facilitate washing in low-income communities;
- Oribags Innovations (U) ltd, Uganda
Manufacturing hand-made paper bags, printing paper and jewellery from agricultural wastes including wheat straw, elephant grass and other natural fibres.
Full details of all these and the other winners are available on the SEED website.
The 2010 awards saw applications from just under 60 countries, representing the collaborative efforts of non-governmental organizations, women’s and youth groups, labour organisations, public authorities, international agencies and academia.
While most of the applications were in the agriculture and rural development sector, many entries addressed issues around climate change and energy, the conservation of biodiversity, and waste management. The selection of the winners was by an independent international jury of experts.
The SEED Initiative is a global network founded in 2002 by UNEP, UNDP and IUCN to contribute towards the Millennium Development Goals and the commitments made at the Johannesburg World Summit on Sustainable Development. SEED works through a global network of partners, supporters and associates.
The UK, represented by Defra, is a partner of SEED; Jonathan Tillson, who leads Defra’s sustainable development team, is the current chair.
SEED identifies, profiles and supports promising, locally-driven start-up enterprises working in partnership in developing countries to improve livelihoods, tackle poverty and marginalisation and manage natural resources sustainably.
The Initiative also develops learning resources for the broad community of social and environmental entrepreneurs, informs policy- and decision-makers and aims to inspire innovative, entrepreneurial approaches to sustainable development.
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