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Policies to Scale the Impacts of Eco-entrepreneurship
A few weeks ago I was in Nairobi where we (SEED) held our annual Africa Symposium. The event was the biggest one yet, with over 500 representatives from government agencies, the private sector, civil society organisations and academic institutions from 34 countries; all gathering to build bridges for impact. It was humbling to witness the passion and drive that is put into making sustainable development a reality and the consensus that green and inclusive growth through eco-entrepreneurship is a major channel to achieve that goal was overwhelming.
While the value of eco-entrepreneurship in delivering sustainable development is increasingly recognised and harnessed in the development sphere, there is still little data available on the Triple Bottom Line (TBL) impacts* of these enterprises and their contribution to sustainable development. To help fill that gap SEED has observed the progress and impacts SEED Winners in Colombia, India, Kenya, South Africa, Uganda and Viet Nam. The study resulted in 12 case studies and generated insights for policy and decision-makers on the role of green and inclusive enterprises in achieving sustainable development, but also on the enabling factors that can help them overcome barriers, reach scale and replicate.
By embracing the added values of social improvement and wise resource management, social and environmental enterprises, also known as green and inclusive businesses or eco-enterprises, are living proof that entrepreneurial approaches driven by TBL objectives can create innovative and novel solutions for delivering sustainable development at the grassroots. Our evidence shows that all cases achieve social, economic and environmental impacts through the goods and services they provide. While the nature of each enterprise varies, we identified key categories in which those impacts can be clustered:
(while these are only examples, the full range of impacts achieved by each enterprise is available in the SEED Case studies)
These enterprises face numerous challenges to sustain their growth and scale up, such as limited access to finance for working capital or investments for scale up; gaps in business skills and unfavourable business environment. Policy makers in the public and private sector have the power to tackle those issues and create more favourable environments for these enterprises to grow. The study highlights that to support the growth and scale up of these enterprises, it is imperative for policies to:
More recommendations are available in the reports: Shaping Sustainable Development through Eco-entrepreneurship and Growing Green and Inclusive Entrepreneurship for Sustainable Development in South Africa
The SEED study, along with numerous other similar studies, highlights only a fragment of these enterprises’ potential. Looking ahead in the context of the recently adopted Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), there is no doubt that this sector can contribute to the implementation of most of the Goals. However, new strategies and appropriate mechanisms and tools need to be devised to ensure that the contribution of the whole sector in achieving the SDGs is monitored and documented adequately; in a way that informs policy makers and enables them to adopt policies that stimulate the sector’s growth further. A discussion around “Measuring Impacts of Eco-entrepreneurship for Sustainable Development Policies” that took place at the SEED Symposium identified several conditions to improve the recognition of the sector, which will be published at the end of October.
This article first appeared on SEED and is reproduced with permission.
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