The Safari Park Hotel in Nairobi, Kenya hosted the 2014 SEED Africa Symposium in September, where the continent’s leading social entrepreneurs were awarded for their contributions to addressing and improving the key issues of Gender Equality, Carbon Emissions and Agriculture and Biodiversity Management. The Grootbos Foundation was proud to be amongst this year’s winners, as Grootbos’ “Growing the Future” urban agriculture project received an award praising its social, environmental and local partnership initiatives and efforts.
The SEED Awards, which are supported by a prominent list of founding partners, including the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), identify and support innovative social and environmental start-up enterprises that tackle key sustainable development challenges at community level in developing and emerging economies. This year, 41 enterprises and organisations were selected by SEED’s International Jury of Experts to receive this award, which includes a cash donation of US$5,000 and further technical support to enhance the recipient’s initiatives. With the winning organisations coming from South America, Asia and primarily Africa, there were 15 different countries represented at this year’s SEED Awards Ceremony.
Office and Project Manager, Lily Upton, attended on our behalf to accept the award. Arriving on the 8th of September, the first two days of her stay in Nairobi at the Safari Park Hotel focused on networking with the other award winners and getting to know each other. The Symposium itself, which took place on the 10th and 11th, included various group workshops, which focused on this year’s theme of low-carbon and women-led enterprises, as well as an exhibition that allowed all of the winners to display their award winning projects and tout the work that they have accomplished to the other attendees of the event. “I think the most impressive enterprise I encountered during the trip was called Village, Inc., which organises and distributes micro-loans to small local villages within Tanzania in order to empower them and promote economic independence”, said Upton when asked about her experience at the Symposium. The speakers that she heard were another major highlight of the event. Amongst them included Ibrahim Thiaw, the UNEP Deputy Executive Director and Assistant Secretary-General of the United Nations, who spoke of the vast opportunities for enterprise development within Africa. Others spoke of female empowerment, as well as Africa’s unique developmental position in which they have the opportunity to essentially skip the Industrial Development Phase and enter straight into the Green Development Phase.
The Grootbos Foundation was awarded for its “Growing the Future” urban agriculture Project. Facilitated by the Foundation’s Siyakhula Programme, , this Project promotes nutritious and organic food production through home gardening in “green Box” containers and improves household food security by providing a three-step gardening programme for unemployed people. After receiving an innovative “green Box” and garden wicking-bed as well as a gardening starting kit, households complete a gardening training course. Participants can join a local community garden cooperative for support and market access. The project’s long-term vision is to acquire land for smallholder farms. Money received from the SEED Awards will go towards the current pilot roll out of this project, as well as help to fund and set up a community garden within Masakhane, the local township of Gansbaai where the project is currently underway.
About the SEED Initiative
The SEED Initiative was founded in 2002 by UNEP, UNDP and IUCN to contribute towards the Millennium Development Goals and the commitments made at the Johannesburg World Summit on Sustainable Development.
SEED identifies, profiles and supports innovative, locally-driven start-up enterprises that integrate social, environmental and economic benefits into their business models at the outset. Based in developing countries, these enterprises work in partnership with stakeholders to improve livelihoods, tackle poverty and marginalisation, and manage natural resources sustainably.
SEED also develops learning resources for the broad community of social and environmental entrepreneurs, informs policy- and decision-makers, and aims to inspire innovative, entrepreneurial approaches to sustainable development.
Partners of the SEED Initiative, in addition to the Founding Partners, are the governments of Flanders, Germany, India, the Netherlands, South Africa, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States of America; the European Union; Conservation International; Hogan Lovells; UNIDO and UN Women; and SEED's corporate partner, Hisense. SEED is hosted by Adelphi Research, based in Germany.