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UN-backed awards recognize innovative green enterprises

Awamu Biomass Energy Ltd (ABE), Uganda, one of 34 winners of the 2013 SEED Awards, announced by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).
Awamu Biomass Energy Ltd (ABE), Uganda, one of 34 winners of the 2013 SEED Awards, announced by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

UN-backed awards recognize innovative green enterprises

Biodegradable plates made from Colombian seeds, an online car-sharing scheme in Viet Nam, and sanitary pads made from banana waste are some of this year’s winners of a United Nations-backed award recognizing projects that help promote sustainable development.

The 2013 Supporting Entrepreneurs for Environment and Development (SEED) Awards, announced today by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), spotlight new locally-driven enterprises that have found creative ways to overcome environmental and developmental problems while also creating economic and social opportunities for their communities.

“These micro-companies are the little acorns from which big and mighty businesses could well grow, but they are more than that. These mini-enterprises are achieving profitability, not at the expense of their environment or their communities, but by providing solutions to the social, economic and environmental challenges of our time,” said UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner.

“If proof is needed that a transition to an inclusive green economy is underway, then look no further than these remarkable entrepreneurs.”

As in previous years, the SEED Awards placed a special focus on Africa, with 20 awards being made to enterprises in Ethiopia, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Tanzania and Uganda.

In addition, ten Low Carbon SEED awards were given to social and environmental enterprises that focus on mitigation and adaptation to climate change, and two SEED Gender Equality Awards recognized projects to further gender equality or women’s empowerment.

“With their innovative entrepreneurial approaches and unfailing attention to women’s empowerment, the SEED Gender Equality Award winners are advancing sustainable development, both locally and at global level,” said the Executive Director of the UN Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women), Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka.

“In every region, women are coming forward with new ideas to combat poverty and improve living standards while protecting natural resources.”

Other Award winners include Uganda’s ‘Nuru Energy’, which sells generators powered by pedals and provides reliable, clean, sustainable power to off-grid households, and ‘moWoza’ – a mobile phone application providing cross-border traders in Mozambique with fast information on prices, payments and deliveries and empowering female entrepreneurs.

“The SEED winners show us a viable path to a greener economy and highlight the power of creative local business models that can inform the discussions on the post-2015 development agenda,” said the Administrator of the UN Development Programme (UNDP), Helen Clark.

The winners will receive a package of individually tailored support for their businesses, access to other supporting institutions and technical assistance, and a financial contribution of $5,000.