Climate change and global warming have become major concerns for leaders within the shores of the African continent, and beyond, thus forming a major part of the deliberations at the recently concluded UN Climate Change Conference (COP27) held in Egypt.
Africa, despite its low contribution to greenhouse gas emissions, remains the most vulnerable continent to climate change impacts under all climate scenarios above 1.5 degrees Celsius. One of the key takeaways from the conference (COP27) is the vital role that businesses and institutions will have to play to create a climate friendly ecosystem.
As our founder wrote in his piece which stemmed from his conversation with Senator John Kerry, “As the world continues to experience the daily impact of global warming, whether it is the tragic recent flooding in Pakistan, or the less covered, but equally harmful, persistent environmental degradation of Africa’s Sahel region, leaders need to act, not just talk. Equally, Africa should not just be in the conversation, but actively set the agenda.”
In another piece with David Miliband, our founder stated that green entrepreneurship and agripreneurship play critical roles in driving innovative solutions to environmental issues. It is crucial to invest in the people behind these ventures to attain climate equity on the micro level. There are bottom-up solutions that must be pursued.
There is a need for a focus on prioritization, accountability, and commitment on the part of these well-meaning public, private and development institutions.
It also hinges on the pertinence for the emergence of more entrepreneurs whose businesses speak to climate change issues; businesses that focus on Renewable energy, Climate smart agriculture and Landscape restoration.
Africa is rich in natural resources, and the green economy presents a significant opportunity for the continent to achieve sustainable growth and development while protecting the environment. Young entrepreneurs in Africa are well-positioned to take advantage of this opportunity and lead the way in developing innovative, sustainable businesses. There is a need for 21st century entrepreneurs to diversify and explore terrains, such as the GREEN ENTREPRENEURSHIP.
Over the years, the Tony Elumelu Foundation has funded over 18,000 African entrepreneurs, and a recent report from our Monitoring and Evaluations team shows that we have funded about 818 number of green entrepreneurs in Africa: 441 and 377 in the Waste management and Energy & power sectors respectively. Majority of the empowered entrepreneurs, about 44%, are in the Agricultural sector, and this goes to show that there is a need for entrepreneurs to delve into other relevant sectors, especially with the current development in the world.
Opportunities for Youth Entrepreneurs in Green Businesses in Africa
- Growing demand for eco-friendly products and services: Consumers are becoming increasingly conscious of the impact of their consumption choices on the environment. Young entrepreneurs in green businesses can take advantage of this growing demand by offering eco-friendly products and services, such as organic food, sustainable energy solutions, and environmentally-friendly transportation.
- Access to finance: Green businesses are becoming more attractive to investors, and young entrepreneurs can take advantage of this trend to secure financing for their businesses. There are several funding opportunities available for youth entrepreneurs in green businesses, such as grants from development agencies such as the Tony Elumelu Foundation.
- Innovation: The green economy presents a significant opportunity for young entrepreneurs to innovate and develop new solutions to environmental challenges. The use of technology and innovation can help to improve the efficiency of green businesses, reduce their environmental impact, and improve their competitiveness.
- Public and Private Sector support: Many African governments, public and private sectors are recognizing the importance of the green economy and are providing support to young entrepreneurs in green businesses. This support can take the form of policy frameworks, tax incentives, business development services and grants
Challenges for Youth Entrepreneurs in Green Businesses in Africa
- Limited access to finance: Despite the growing interest in green businesses, young entrepreneurs in Africa still facing challenges in securing financing for their businesses. Many investors are still sceptical of green businesses and may be hesitant to invest in untested business models.
- Limited access to technology: Access to technology can be a significant challenge for young entrepreneurs in Africa. Without access to the latest technology, it can be difficult for green businesses to remain competitive and innovative.
- Lack of infrastructure: Inadequate infrastructure, such as poor transportation and energy systems, can make it difficult for green businesses to operate efficiently and cost-effectively.
- Limited market access: Green businesses often face limited market access due to regulatory barriers and high costs associated with certification and compliance. This can make it difficult for young entrepreneurs to scale their businesses and reach new markets.
- Lack of skills and experience: Young entrepreneurs may lack the necessary skills and experience to succeed in green businesses. This can make it difficult to develop and implement effective business strategies, manage finances, and navigate the regulatory landscape.
The green economy presents significant opportunities for young entrepreneurs in Africa to develop innovative and sustainable businesses. However, youth entrepreneurs in green businesses also face significant challenges, such as limited access to finance, technology, and infrastructure, and regulatory barriers.
To overcome these challenges, young entrepreneurs need access to finance, technology, and business development support, as well as policies that promote the growth of green businesses. With the right support, young entrepreneurs in green businesses can play a vital role in promoting sustainable economic growth and development in Africa.
The Tony Elumelu Foundation is making deliberate efforts to promote green entrepreneurship and foster an environment where green entrepreneurs can thrive, we are also calling on well-meaning private and public sectors to join us on this quest to promote an eco-friendly continent.
Here are some of the beneficiaries of the Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship Programme operating in the Green Industry:
Lombola Lombola started the Bamboo Express company to empower the youth and women locally. Bamboo Express is solving the problem of deforestation, youth unemployment, and lack of income alternatives for rural women. They run a youth apprenticeship program and purchase 90% of raw materials from rural women.
Bimpe Oni runs an eco-friendly company called D’Rose recycling that upcycles solid waste like old tyres, bottles, plastics into recycled furniture suitable for homes, offices, playgrounds, studios, etc.
The company seeks to address the challenge posed by the tons of plastics and tyres which end up in the ocean on a yearly basis causing water pollution and which drive sea life into extinction.
Richard Bbaale is a social entrepreneur from Uganda that founded BanaPads in 2010, a company using banana pseudostem wastes, which are usually left to rot after harvesting, to make sanitary towels.
BanaPads is an award-winning social enterprise registered in Uganda and Tanzania with the aim of manufacturing affordable and eco-friendly (100% biodegradable) sanitary pads to keep village girls in school and create jobs for local women. The pads are also collected to be used as manure and this means that the waste that goes to the local landfill will be reduced since the banana pseudo-stem is a recyclable product.
Letsogile Kennedy is an award-winning social entrepreneur, architect and founder of Ecohub, a start-up established that innovatively uses plastic waste to produce affordable, architect-designed flat-pack ecobricks and ecohouses.
EcoHub is a local start-up company that makes eco-bricks from recycled materials. The plan is to manufacture ‘green’ building materials from waste, while at the same time providing affordable housing and sustainable housing that can last for 20 to 25 years.
The company manufactures eco-bricks that are produced from special material using waste.