As the continent continues to be impacted by rising temperatures, heightening sea levels and a plethora of extreme weather conditions, rethinking socio-economic development is crucial. As the world’s youngest continent and for the future of upcoming generations, it is important to ensure that we are building solutions that are sustainable and address issues of climate change, unemployment, and an impending food crisis.
While being the least contributor to greenhouse gas emissions with less than 5%, there is still an urgency for our continent to respond to the impending effects of climate change. This presents multiple opportunities to assist African households and communities while targeting growth and reducing poverty.
As entrepreneurship continues to be a means of economic development and job creation for African youth, a focus towards green entrepreneurship has become more necessary. Green entrepreneurship is crucial to the economy as we think about making our world and continent a greener and safer place.
According to the ILO, Green entrepreneurship can be defined from two perspectives related to the output (products and services) as well as the process (or production) of an economic activity.Entrepreneurs can enter an overtly ‘green’ business sector, providing green and environmentally friendly products and services (e.g., waste management).
Alternately, green entrepreneurs can provide their products or services through an environmentally friendly process or with the help of clean technologies (e.g., eco-tourism).
Green Entrepreneurship at TEF
Till date, the Tony Elumelu Foundation has had a total of 525 entrepreneurs with businesses addressing environmental issues, with the popular sectors being energy/power generation and waste management. Entrepreneurs from Kenya, Nigeria and Uganda had the highest representation in this group.
Leroy Mwasaru is a 23-year-old renewable energy social entrepreneur and sustainable design thinking prodigy. He founded Greenpact, a social enterprise obtaining biogas from both agricultural and human waste and works with communities to redefine renewable energy as a sustainable and necessary part of everyday energy needs. Since completing the TEF Entrepreneurship Programme, Leroy has gone on to other exciting projects and was the young person listed on Forbes Africa 2018 30 under 30.
Steve Matenda from the Democratic Republic of Congo founded EcoTech RDC, a Congolese start-up specialised in the development of innovative technologies focused on ecology. With a business based on the principles of circular economy, EcoTech has developed a new product made from recycled plastic waste. Through a long-term partnership with UNICEF, his products are being shared across the country and region.
Chioma Ukonu from Nigeria founded Recycle Points, Nigeria’s foremost waste recycling and social benefit venture that motivates consumers to recycle while creating value from their everyday waste. Recycle Points developed a point-based incentive model where waste collected from registered post-consumers and in turn reward them with POINTS, with the seed funding from TEF, Chioma was able to drive innovation by procuring two electric cargo tricycles (first of its kind in Africa) for door-to-door recyclable material collections. With a revenue of over $400,000, Recycle Points has been instrumental in empowering women in low-income communities. By doing this, they have been able to add more greenpreneurs to their business model while creating 250 direct and indirect jobs.
As the world continues to focus on climate change and its impacts, policies and business regulations that support green entrepreneurship need to be created. By encouraging and investing in green businesses the Tony Elumelu Foundation is continuing its commitment to support African entrepreneurs focused on creating long term solutions to some of Africa’s most pressing challenges.
Working with entrepreneurs on key climate issues such as energy production and distribution, waste management, the circular economy and advanced agricultural practices is of utmost importance. Entrepreneurs play a major role in sustaining the green economy and have the power to push the needle in how the world thinks about sustainable businesses. Investments as well as policies favourable for green business sectors are therefore crucial to helping green SMEs expand their operations.