Fifteen eco-friendly start-ups receive Africa Green-SEED Awards

One of the winners is Ekasi Energy, which produces biomass cooking fuel and clean cooking appliances for informal settlements with little or no grid power. These reduce health threats caused by burning wood, charcoal and paraffin, which are usually used for cooking.

Banana-Stem bags in Kenya, school benches made from plastic waste in Burkina Faso, improved livelihoods for coffee farmers, and safer mountain gorillas in Uganda—these are some of the 15 winners of this year’s SWITCH Africa Green-SEED Awards during the High-Level Political Forum in New York.

The SEED awards are part of a global programme that recognizes innovative, environmentally friendly start-ups in developing countries, and helps them grow their businesses and lead by example.

Founded in 2002 by the United Nations Environment Programme, the United Nations Development Programme and the International Union for Conservation of Nature, the SAG-SEED Award provides winners with tailored business and financial advice, help with marketing and publicity, and introductions to funding bodies, policy makers and other avenues of support.

Winners also join a network of more than 200 previous SAG-SEED alumni from 38 countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America. The 15 winning enterprises were selected by an independent Jury of International Experts out of more than 300 applications. Their activities cover agriculture, waste management, energy, manufacturing, biodiversity conservation and tourism.

“SEED is all about helping spur innovation that protects our natural environment and accelerates development,” said Erik Solheim, Head of UN Environment. “Past winners have delivered grass-roots solutions on issues including waste management, renewable energy and sustainable agriculture. They see environmental protection not as a cost or a burden, but as an opportunity. As such, they are laying the foundations for what our planet needs: a fundamental shift towards a green economy.

“Ecological business models have a huge role to play in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals,” says Achim Steiner, UNDP Administrator. “We congratulate this year’s SEED Winners for demonstrating that business really can be profitable whilst respecting nature and the environment. Their innovative ideas, supported by SEED and partner organizations, stand as examples for other businesses that are striving to fight poverty and climate change in ways that are sustainable,” he added.

“In the context of perhaps our greatest global challenge – meeting growing consumer demands while managing increasingly overburdened natural resources, many eco-inclusive enterprises, such as those recognised in this year’s SEED Awards are turning challenges into opportunities, and, in so doing, are part of a vital step change in the way we do business,” said IUCN Director General Inger Andersen.

SEED promotes eco-inclusive solutions for sustainable development by shaping a supportive “ecosystem” and increasing the resilience of small and growing enterprises in developing countries.

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