Innovative small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) can be drivers of climate change mitigation and adaptation. This project recognizes outstanding climate-smart SMEs with awards, provides them with business development support, and works with service providers and financiers to improve funding and financial instruments for them.
In emerging economies, SMEs make up 40% of GDP and account for 70% of newly created jobs. They are key to the transition to a just, inclusive and green economy. Countless SMEs in emerging economies bring forward innovative business models that show great potential for mitigating climate change and adapting to its effects. But their innovations lack recognition. Also, many of these enterprises are both too big for micro credit schemes and too small and risky for banks and private equity firms.
This is where the adelphi-project “SEED - Financing and capacity building for micro and small climate-smart enterprises” steps in.
The SEED Awards for Entrepreneurship in Sustainable Development is an annual awards scheme designed to identify the most innovative and promising locally led start-up eco-inclusive enterprises in developing and emerging economies. As part of this project, exceptionally climate-smart SMEs from the target countries Colombia, India, Vietnam, Tanzania, Uganda, Ghana, South Africa, Thailand and Indonesia are awarded a special SEED Award for climate change mitigation or adaptation in a high-profile awards ceremony.
The winners receive support through the SEED network. This consists of proven SEED training programs (conducted in collaboration with local business development service providers) to improve and scale up their business models. SEED also brings them together with potential partners and sponsors. To date, hundreds of enterprises have received business development support through innovative face-to-face and online formats.
adelphi works with service providers and financiers to integrate the needs of inclusive and climate-friendly SMEs into funding and financial instruments. Through practitioner labs on climate finance, national policy dialogues, and events advocating green entrepreneurship at major international conferences, adelphi advances a supportive ecosystem for climate-smart SMEs.
The SEED program therefore not only provides direct support to entrepreneurs, but also creates a favorable financial and political environment. In this way, the project closes the financing gap for small and growing businesses that are too large for microcredit on the one hand, but too small and risky for banks and private equity firms on the other.
Overall, the impact of the project can be summarized as follows:
SEED promotes innovative market-based solutions that contribute to low-carbon, green, and socially inclusive economies in target countries, supporting the implementation of the Paris Agreement and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
Number (or token)
of all SEED award winners
are still in business after 5 years
Number (or token)
through SEED-supported enterprises
Number (or token)
participated in SEED events to highlight the importance of social-ecological entrepreneurship
SEED was founded in 2002 at the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg by UN Environment, UNDP and IUCN as a global partnership for action in the field of sustainable development and the green economy. As the hosting partner of SEED, adelphi carries out all its projects. The International Climate Initiative (IKI) of Germany’s Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Nuclear Safety and Consumer Protection (BMUV) is the financing partner of this project.