2011 SEED Awards Focus on African Entrepreneurs

15 December 2011: The 2011  Supporting Entrepreneurs for Environment and Development (SEED) Awards, announced by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), were granted to 35 entrepreneurs from 14 countries for their inspiring grassroot businesses that contribute to meeting current sustainable development challenges.

The SEED Initiative was founded in 2002 by UNEP, the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and IUCN to contribute towards achieving the Millenium Development Goals (MDGs) and other commitments made at the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) held in Johannesburg, South Africa, in 2002.

The 2011 SEED awards recognized enterprises such as briquettes made from groundnut shells in the Gambia to a social business marketing recycled handicrafts in Kenya for their contributions to sustainable development. Other winners included a "Solar bread oven" in Burkina Faso, "waste enterprisers" in Ghana and a "project for producing edible mushroom spores" in Rwanda. This year's edition of the Awards included a Gender Equity Award, in partnership with UN Women. The winner was the "Solid Waste Management and Community Mobilization Program" in Nepal, a waste collection and recycling initiative to reduce landfill waste.

This year's focus on Africa is part of a larger project linked with UNEP's Green Economy Initiative, which is funded largely by the EU's Green Economy and Social and Environmental Entrepreneurship in Africa.

With proposals from over 76 countries, most of the applications focused on agricultural and development sectors, with others focusing on energy and climate change, ecosystem management and biodiversity. A small number focused on micro-enterprise development, IT applications, and education and training. All projects were assessed by an independent SEED International Jury of experts from different sectors across the globe. [UNEP Press Release] [UN Press Release] [SEED Initiative Website]