In light of the increasing and drastic consequences of human conduct on our resources and the planet, a growing number of businesses are focusing on sustainability. Innovative enterprises play a pivotal role in addressing environmental challenges, but resources and support for them remain in short supply. Even when funding programmes exist, the complex web of legal regulations and the perpetually shifting conditions of environmental policy frameworks pose a variety of obstacles. Furthermore, supporting sustainable businesses does not yet attract many investors who have much expertise in the field.
At adelphi, we are aware that the success of green entrepreneurship lies in multi-stakeholder collaboration that involves and promotes smaller enterprises at the base of our global economy and which are on the frontline of building green, inclusive and climate-resilient communities. In various projects, adelphi researches the needs and impact of these smaller enterprises, providing recommendations and implementing programmes to advance the ecosystems in which they operate.
SEED: Nurturing sustainable entrepreneurship and green innovations globally
One of the projects adelphi hosts is SEED. Launched in 2002, the global partnership of the UN Environment, UNDP and IUCN has supported over 2,000 enterprises and trained more than 500 business development providers across 41 countries, as well as engaged with 950 organisations all over the globe to promote sustainable development and green economy. Last year, financially supported by BMUV, SEED supported aspiring entrepreneurs in Ghana, India, Indonesia, South Africa, Thailand, and Uganda to build eco-inclusive business models, while also connecting them to former SEED Award Winners and Runners-up to enable an exchange of valuable experiences.
Speaking of awards: 18 enterprises in Botswana, Malawi, and Zambia received the SEED Climate Adaptation Awards, propelling them from start-up stage to emerging businesses with positive environmental, social and economic benefits. Funded by the Government of Flanders, SEED supports eco-inclusive companies that actively contribute to building the climate resilience of local communities in Southern Africa.
Fostering green growth: Impact on Morocco’s micro, small, and medium enterprises
Micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in Morocco have truly advanced in 2023 in green economy. With the SEED Replicator, the team engaged over 70 future founders and through the SEED Starter, approximately 30 early-stage green enterprises received support to refine their business ideas. These will generate positive environmental impacts to waste reduction and reduced CO2 emissions.
adelphi also supports the Moroccan Start-up Ecosystems Catalysts (MSEC) association by developing ecosystem surveys to identify strengths and gaps in the start-up support ecosystem. Together with working groups, the team helped financing start-ups to elevate green entrepreneurship in the country.
Business innovation processes and circular entrepreneurship
adelphi supports the Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit’s (GIZ) lab of tomorrow in the implementation of business innovation processes across the globe. Just to name a few, the team has conducted ideation sprints on: • innovative and sustainable packaging for food processing industries in Egypt; • energy efficiency and the use of renewable energy in Tunisia; • greening and advancing e-commerce in Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, and Rwanda.
In the last year alone, between 10 to 15 exciting joint ventures have emerged and are currently preparing their business model innovations for market entry.
For green entrepreneurship to succeed, we need economies that are restorative and regenerative. In 2023, the Circular Economy Catalyst provided acceleration support and networking opportunities to 24 circular enterprises from India and Kenya. adelphi implements this project, supported by the IKEA Foundation, and assists over 220 entrepreneurs to create profitable circular economy business models that generate income, positive environmental impacts and more than 8,700 jobs. In addition, in 2023, the adelphi team trained 30 business advisory experts on circular enterprise acceleration and supported 13 commercial banks to assess their small and medium enterprise portfolios and develop new instruments to channel climate finance to circular enterprises. In both countries, the team has built strong partnerships, contributing to the establishment of a more sustainable ecosystem.
Channeling climate finance only works when funding institutions have gathered expertise in the field. That is why 2023 marked an eventful and impactful year for the Uganda Green Enterprise Finance Accelerator (UGEFA): 130 green enterprises were introduced to partner financial institutions, with more than 11 billion Uganda-Shilling (UGX) of green, blended finance unlocked and deployed to date. In partnership with commercial banks, UGEFA has set up an innovative funding facilitation mechanism which uses grant funding to leverage private sector capital, allowing more than 50 green enterprises to benefit from it to date. Furthermore, UGEFA was able to secure three new partnerships with Ugandan banks, spearheading the commitment to channel financial flows towards environmentally sustainable initiatives.
Accelerating biodiversity finance and revolutionising agrifood systems
The Biodiversity Finance Accelerator (BioFA) supports Malawi and Zambia in accessing finance so that their businesses can scale up. Furthermore, the team helps strengthen financial institutions to develop innovative financing instruments. In 2023, more than 30 participants from 12 banks were trained in green finance aspects, which led to 12 green finance prototypes being co-created and shared with development finance institutions. Additionally, the BioFA team organised practitioner labs for MSMEs to deliver biodiversity solutions and climate adaptation efforts.
The global agrifood systems need alternative approaches and innovative solutions to grapple with population growth, consumption patterns and extreme weather events. The SDG Agrifood Accelerator Programme, an initiative by the Food and Agriculture Organisation and SEED, supports eleven selected agrifood enterprises from Africa and Asia in the scaling-up of their business operations. This includes developing marketing and finance plans to support their expansion and innovation trajectories, strengthening their advocacy and pitching skills as well as tracking their SDG impact contributions.
As one of the most populous countries in Africa, Ethiopia seeks to strengthen the agricultural sector, the backbone of their economy. The project Agri-Business Incubation, or short "BIC Ethiopia” conducted the Agri-Finance Lab in 2023. With 51 participants from 13 financial institutions attending, the lab resulted in the development of innovative agri-financing products that help strengthen the agricultural sector of Ethiopia. To date, BIC Ethiopia trainings support over 730 participants through starter and catalyser workshops.
The work of adelphi and their partners shows how green entrepreneurship contributes to creating positive environmental impacts and elevating the role of MSMEs in the global green economy. It is clear that the journey towards sustainability requires continued dedication, innovation, and collaborative action from all stakeholders. The strides made in financing, biodiversity conservation, and agrifood systems offer a glimpse into a future where these businesses play a crucial role in building resilient communities and climate-friendly businesses worldwide.