Promoting Entrepreneurship for Sustainable Development – this is what the SEED partnership is all about. SEED supports aspiring eco-inclusive enterprises and entrepreneurs in scaling their business, awards their achievements, and builds enabling ecosystems for them.
SEED was founded at the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development as a global partnership for action on sustainable development and the green economy. As SEED’s hosting partner, adelphi is responsible for managing and implementing all projects under the SEED programme.
SEED is a global partnership for action on sustainable development and the inclusive green economy.
What Eco-Inclusive Entrepreneurship Looks Like
What might eco-inclusive business models be? How about the sustainable harvesting and processing of soap nuts, a fruit rich in saponin that can be used to manufacture eco-friendly alternatives to petrochemical detergents?
Meet the 2021 SEED Low Carbon Award winner BubbleNut Wash from India – who is doing just that: they develop and produce eco-friendly detergents using soap nuts. With their innovative business idea, they also empower local indigenous women growing and harvesting these nuts, alleviate poverty and help to protect forests and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
The SEED Awards for Entrepreneurship in Sustainable Development is an annual awards scheme designed to identify the most innovative and promising locally led eco-inclusive enterprises in developing and emerging economies. SEED recognizes their achievements in a high-profile awards ceremony.
SEED’s Enterprise Support programmes directly assist individual enterprises at multiple levels of business development – from the early stages of inspiration and concept-building to scaling up or the replication of proven, successful eco-inclusive business models in other geographical locations. SEED Award winners and runners-up are eligible for participation in SEED Accelerator and SEED Catalyser programmes. In collaboration with local business development service providers, these enterprises receive training to improve and scale up their business models’ environmental, social and economic impacts locally. In addition, the Enterprise Support programmes provide incubation support, engaging participants in the ideation of eco-inclusive business models and supporting their replication.
The SEED Ecosystem Building programmes cultivate networks between business, politics and finance in order to build enabling political and financial ecosystems for green entrepreneurship. SEED provides platforms for dialogue between local, national and international stakeholders and works to improve the quality of relations between these stakeholders and enterprises.
As of 2021, SEED has supported over 4000 enterprises in 40 countries. It has brought together over 3000 stakeholders at various events and symposia and over 1000 people at its policy and finance labs. An average SEED enterprise creates 28.4 jobs, of which 32% were offered to people at the bottom of the pyramid, and it saves over 7,300 tonnes of CO2 equivalent per year. For more on the impact of SEED’s enterprises, see here.
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of all SEED Award Winners
continue to be in business after five years.
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participated in SEED Events to champion eco-inclusive entrepreneurship.
SEED in Action
Since its inception in 2002, SEED gradually expanded its geographical and thematic fields of activity. Here are three examples.
Boosting Eco-Inclusive Enterprises for Climate Adaptation in Southern Africa
Building on SEED’s long-standing experience with supporting mitigation-focused enterprises worldwide, one new field of activity is boosting market-based solutions contributing to climate change adaptation in Southern Africa – one of the world’s most vulnerable regions when it comes to climate change.
Small and growing eco-inclusive enterprises in the adaptation space offer solutions that are often more agile, innovative and entrepreneurial than those by larger corporations. Against this background, adelphi – through SEED – supports such enterprises in Botswana, Malawi, and Zambia to increase the resilience of local communities.
SEED offers direct enterprise support, promotes an enabling ecosystem in the adaptation space and provides a platform for peer-learning and creation of synergies between entrepreneurs, policy makers and financiers. The ultimate goal is to strengthen the ecosystem for climate adaptation enterprises in Botswana, Malawi, and Zambia.
Filling the Gap of the Missing Middle
Many micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) in developing and 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 and scale. 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 project “SEED - Financing and capacity building for micro and small climate-smart enterprises” steps in.
The project strengthens the capacities and capabilities of socially inclusive and climate-friendly MSMEs by providing short-term advice on their business development in innovative face-to-face and online formats, and by bringing them together with potential partners and sponsors.
In addition, the project promotes favourable financial and political conditions for climate-smart MSMEs. To this end, SEED works with service providers and financiers to integrate the needs of inclusive and climate-friendly SMEs into funding and financial instruments. Thus, the project helps small and growing climate-smart enterprises to bridge the missing middle finance gap.
The project is financed by the International Climate Initiative of the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Nuclear Safety and Consumer Protection (BMUV).
The SEED Low Carbon Award
Exceptionally climate-smart MSMEs 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.
SEED promotes green entrepreneurship in Morocco to unlock growth pathways for MSMEs that develop and commercialise eco-innovations in green sectors such as mobility, waste management, and clean energy, and to create green jobs for marginalised populations. In particular, support will be provided to MSMEs located outside of the Tangier-El Jadida axis, where the majority of entrepreneurship support is currently provided. Poverty rates are twice those of the national average in regions outside of Morocco's economic centres.
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of the private sector
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in Marocco can be attributed to MSMEs.
Building on the success of previous and ongoing SEED activities, this project leverages existing toolkits, methodologies and approaches. It supports over 200 entrepreneurs in
replicating and scaling green business models,
creating and maintaining direct and indirect jobs,
generating positive environmental impacts such as waste reduction and reduced CO2 emissions.
In 2002, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) founded SEED within the framework of the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg. Since 2006, adelphi has been supporting SEED as an implementing partner and has been responsible for carrying out multiple programme components. In 2013, adelphi took on the project sponsorship and implements all activities within the SEED programme. Full responsibility for the SEED programme and its further development lies with the SEED Board consisting of representatives of SEED Partner institutions and experts in sustainable development. Besides adelphi as the hosting partner and the three founding partners, SEED is supported by another eleven organisations, among them NGOs, governments, private companies and intergovernmental organisations.