Diana Hollmann

SEED Awards 2010: Now Open

The SEED initiative is calling for applications from small-scale and locally driven enterprises around the globe for the 2010 SEED Awards for Entrepreneurship in Sustainable Development.

The Award scheme addresses social and environmental entrepreneurs with the potential to contribute to poverty eradication and environmental sustainability advancing a green economy in their countries. Up to 35 winners will be selected to benefit from a customized support package including skills development, business support services, access to networks and high level profiling. Though entrepreneurs from around the globe are invited to apply, those from South Africa, Burkina Faso, Egypt, Ghana, Kenya, Rwanda and Senegal are especially encouraged to submit proposals.

Successful initiatives should be entrepreneurial and innovative in their approach, work in partnership with different stakeholder groups, and be locally driven in a country with a developing or emerging economy. Have a look at the SEED website for a full list of eligibility criteria and examples of previous awardees.

What I find interesting, and what makes SEED different from other schemes is that is combines a bottom-up and a top-down approach. On the one hand, it highlights the potential of multi-stakeholder partnerships and locally driven entrepreneurial initiatives to achieve social and environmental impact. On the other, the SEED partner network creates a great opportunity for broad scale impact:

The SEED initiative is hosted by the UN Environment Programme and counts amongst its partners the UN Development Programme, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as well as a number of governments including those of Germany, USA, South Africa, and India just to name a few. With this network, the SEED initiative doesn’t only have the potential to make a difference for individual award winners, but also to raise awareness amongst policy makers about market-based solutions to development challenges. Next to the annual award scheme, tailored entrepreneur support and collection of best practices SEED aims to inspire governments to put in place frameworks to foster local level initiatives driving a greener economy.

Since the first round in 2005, the SEED Awards have evolved from a biannual scheme with 260 applications from 66 countries to an annual scheme with more than 1000 initiatives from 97 countries applying in 2009.

For those interested in being considered for the 2010 Awards, please refer to the SEED website for more information and to apply online. The deadline for applications is August 16, 2010, 11:59pm Central European Time.