News publ. 24. Jul 2023
Honeycomb power, insect proteins and female empowerment: the winners of this year's Green Entrepreneurship Awards have been announced. The awards recognise and reward the most innovative and promising environmentally friendly and circular economy-focused businesses in countries of the Global South.
It is hard to imagine, but recycled paper can be so strong that you can make furniture and even houses out of it – it just has to be folded correctly! Abhimanyu Singh and Shilpi Dua are well versed in this. They studied architecture together and later learned how to design product service systems in Milan. Back in India, they eventually founded the company Hexpressions, which specialises in the commercial use of paper honeycombs. For instance, one of their products is a kind of paper folder that can be used to form a chair or a coffee table with only a few hand movements. The secret of the stability of their products is not really a secret at all: the founders were simply inspired by the extremely stable, hexagonal structure of the honeycomb.
With Hexpressions, Abhimanyu Singh and Shilpi Dua aim to revolutionise the construction industry by providing affordable and sustainable homes for underserved communities with their composite paper honeycomb panels. Innovative, circular, environmentally and socially friendly – their business model has met all the criteria: They are among the winners of the Green Entrepreneurship Awards 2023! Besides Hexpressions, six other winners and 35 runners-up from five countries in Africa and Asia presented themselves and their innovative and sustainable ideas that contribute to climate adaptation and implement circular economy models in their respective regions and countries.
Awards in two categories
This year, the awards featured two distinguished categories to celebrate the achievements of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) contributing to the green economy through climate change adaptation and circular solutions. The Circular Economy Awards category presented by Circular Economy Catalyst (supported by the IKEA Foundation) and the Climate Adaptation Awards hosted by SEED (funded by the Government of Flanders).
The four winners of the Circular Economy Awards include:
- Abhimanyu Singh, founder of Hexpressions
- Sahar Mansoor, founder of Bare Necessities Zero Waste Solutions. The company offers zero-waste alternatives to conventional personal, lifestyle, and home care products. With a female led manufacturing team, they handcraft their PETA-certified products using ethically sourced ingredients, aiming to make conscious everyday consumption accessible.
- Elizabeth Mbogo, founder of Botanic Treasures. The company manufactures palate-friendly nutritional products using a circular cultivation based on a Moringa tree agroforestry system.
- Nicholas Ndekei, founder of Zihanga Ltd. The company converts tonnes of organic waste into biofertiliser and improved insect feed for pigs, fish, pets and chickens.
"The winning enterprises are key to tackling crucial areas such as making food systems circular and sustainable, capturing the value of electronic waste, increasing water usage efficiency, designing out plastic waste and promoting slow fashion. Their work is driving scalable solutions to the challenges faced by circular economy practices. At IKEA Foundation, we want to congratulate every single one of them for their ground-breaking contributions to a more sustainable future. With these awards, our aim to accelerate the transition towards a circular economy, where resources are optimised, waste is minimised, and sustainable practices are embraced."
- Ahmed Sameh, Programme Manager of IKEA Foundation
Climate Adaptation Awards
The three winners of the Climate Adaptation Awards hailed three countries, Malawi, Zambia and Botswana. They include:
- Joy Hayley Munthali, founder of Tawonga Cooking Oil Processing. The Malawian company creates local markets for farmers' harvests by producing cooking oil, animal feed, soap and peanut butter, thus playing a crucial role in promoting women's economic empowerment.
- Bonolo Monthe, founder of Maungo Craft. The company from Botswana creates environmentally friendly products working with women in its value chain. It has established unique partnerships with indigenous oil manufacturers and smallholder farmers, creating employment for vulnerable communities at the base of the pyramid, particularly women in rural areas.
- Frazer Handondo, founder of Forest Africa Zambia Limited. The Zambian company specialises in processing indigenous wild fruits, producing organic and natural juices and baobab seed oil. Forest Africa is improving rural incomes by creating a ready market for wild fruits which by enhancing the local communities’ ability to adapt to climate change and build their resilience using their locally available resources such as wild fruit trees.
"As climate change continues to take center stage, countries like Botswana, Malawi and Zambia are on the front line feeling the effects rising global temperatures. For this reason, we are so proud to support the Climate Adaptation Awards and provide the exceptional enterprises in these countries with the tools they need to enable green recovery and create lasting change for the wider community and the planet."
- Yves Wantens, General Representative of Flanders
Refine business models, increase impact
Winners of the Green Entrepreneurship Awards will be awarded matching grants of up to 15,000 euros and will receive tailored one-to-one advisory services for up to a year to scale their operations, as part of the prestigious Accelerator programme. In line with the principle of ‘awarding the best and enabling the rest’, 35 runners-up will also receive a matching grant and up to six months capacity building support through the Catalyser programme, to refine their business models and optimise their impacts while advancing their investment readiness.