2014 SEED Awards Honour Low Carbon and Women-Led Enterprises

Innovative social and environmental start-up enterprises are being recognized by the 2014 SEED Awards in Nairobi Kenya, the United Nations Environment Programme announced today.

From an enterprise that produces premium outdoor furniture out of recycled plastic and organic waste materials in Colombia, to a women’s farming cooperative that improves food security in Nepal, to enterprises that market solar electricity kiosks in rural off grid areas of Malawi and promoting bikes as subsidised moving billboards for the rural poor in Mozambique – this year’s SEED Winners demonstrate that innovation, working in partnerships, and a dedicated focus on sustainability contribute significantly towards building a world of flourishing communities in which eco-entrepreneurship drives sustainable development, UNEP said in a news release.

“The SEED Winners are visionaries who are spearheading the green economy among diverse communities and across a wide range of sectors. We are especially proud of the SEED’s acknowledgement of women-led green enterprises having introduced the Gender Equality component since 2011,” said UNEP Executive Director, Achim Steiner.

“We salute the vision, innovation and resilience of these trailblazers as they lead the way towards a greener and more sustainable future.”

The SEED Awards identify and support innovative social and environmental start-up enterprises which can tackle key sustainable development challenges at community level, in developing and emerging economies. As in previous years, the 2014 SEED Awards have a special focus on Africa, with 28 Awards made to enterprises in Ethiopia, Malawi, Morocco, Mozambique, South Africa, Tanzania and Uganda. A further 10 SEED Low Carbon Awards go to climate-smart enterprises across the globe that contribute towards grassroots climate change mitigation and/or adaption. Special recognition is also given to three women-led enterprises that promote gender equality and women’s empowerment as their core objectives.

Every SEED Award Winner will receive a financial contribution of US $5,000, technical assistance, access to different supporting institutions, and tailor-made support to develop their business and skills.

The 2014 call for applications saw contributions from 84 countries, representing the collaborative efforts of partnerships between enterprises, non-governmental organizations, women’s and youth groups, labour organizations, public authorities, international agencies, and academia.

Most of the applications were in the agricultural and rural development sectors; others were in energy and climate change, and ecosystem management. Many entries at the same time addressed IT applications, and education and training.

“The 2014 SEED Winners, have followed enlightened social and environmental pathways in their entrepreneurial activities. They offer good examples of how local entrepreneurs can contribute to successful and sustainable development,” said Helen Clark, Administrator of the UN Development Programme.

The winners were selected by the independent SEED International Jury of experts.

You can view the full list of winners here.