On September 10th and 11th 2014, the SEED Africa Symposium 2014 convened at the Safari Park Hotel in Nairobi, Kenya. 320 representatives from business, government, academia, support institutions and civil society from 30 different countries attended. 'Making Growth Sustainable: Co-creating Solutions through Social and Green Entrepreneurship' was the theme of the event. Participants were invited to Explore, Enable and Engage with each other to find ways of building effective ecosystems for green and social enterprises in Africa.
Last year's event examined the nexus between small social and green enterprises and larger businesses, and how to strengthen collaboration and partnerships between them and policy-makers through more supportive environments. It also explored best practices and innovative partnerships as well as the barriers that hinder the scale up of small micro and medium enterprises (SMMEs). Symposium participants exchanged ideas with renowned entrepreneurs and high-level business leaders, policy makers, development and inclusive business experts. Find below the summary video of last year's symyposium:
To learn more about the Symposium, listen to our podcasts below or download the Summary Report at the bottom of this page.
Day 1: Setting the scene
Anne Waiguru, the Cabinet Secretary for Devolution and Planning of the Government of Kenya, in her keynote address, given by Stephen Wainaina, National Economic Planning Secretary in Kenya’s Ministry for Devolution and Planning, stressed the efforts of her government to unleash social and environmental entrepreneurship. National policies recognised the vital role of SMMEs in contributing to socio-economic development through initiatives like the Uwezo Fund, the Women Enterprise Fund, the Youth Enterprise Development Fund and the 30 % ring-fenced access to Government Procurement opportunities. To encourage young people to take up entrepreneurship, the Government had partnered with Kenya’s private sector alliance to provide a mentorship and training programme that will provide technical skills to 20,000 young Kenyans over the coming year. In order to address profound challenges such as food insecurity and diminishing natural resources that Kenya and most other African countries face, the innovative ideas of SMMEs were pivotal and needed to be converted into economic opportunities which could advance the green economy. The Cabinet Secretary also highlighted the contribution of initiatives like SEED and called for further collaboration between state and non-state actors to encourage innovative, green and inclusive development.
High-level plenary panel: Entrepreneurial Solutions for Green and Inclusive Growth
Green and inclusive growth is attracting the attention of governments as a tool that drives sustainable development and of the private sector as a sound business proposition. It offers a way of reconciling the rapid development required to bring African countries to the level of prosperity to which they aspire while meeting the social needs of the more than half a billion people still living in poverty, and fulfilling the national and global imperatives of reducing dependence on fossil fuels and managing natural resources wisely. Social and green enterprises offer one concrete means of achieving this paradigm shift, providing solutions to local problems in ways that create social and environmental benefits and are financially sustainable. The high-level panel discussion “Entrepreneurial Solutions for Green and Inclusive Growth” led by Rainer Agster from SEED, explored how these small scale social and green enterprises contribute in accelerating the transition to green and inclusive growth.
Day 2: Exploring best-practices and co-creating solutions
Welcoming and introduction
Friedo Sielemann, the German Deputy Ambassador to Kenya, underlined the significance the German government placed on green growth development. The green economy concept was contextual, with each country needing to find the road that was right for them. In light of new fossil fuel discoveries in Kenya, East African countries might rethink their economy and re-invest in their renewable energy sector and other innovative sectors like telecommunication, rather than following the path of other mineral-rich African states which have relied too heavily on income derived largely from foreign-owned investments in the extraction industries.
The Symposium also explored innovative partnerships that can drive the change to sustainable development. In his keynote address, Bob Collymore, CEO of Safaricom, centered on the central elements that make partnerships between business and development partners work: a common purpose, determination, and understanding the need to nurture all partnerships and how to do that. In order to keep partners aligned, it was crucial to keep partnerships simple. Partnerships were not about competing; each partner needed to play to its strengths and keep in mind the overall end goal. Just as best practices needed to evolve continuously throughout the development of a business, partnerships also needed to change over time as activities were scaled up.
High-level plenary panel: Building linkages for innovative, inclusive, and sustainable entrepreneurship
Social and green enterprises are developing powerful innovations to tackle global sustainable development issues. Their ability to grow is often hindered however by regulatory, information, and financial barriers. But effective partnerships and intermediaries can provide a means of addressing market failures, governance gaps, and institutional constraints that often disadvantage small entrepreneurs. The panel explored successful business collaborations and multi-sector partnerships that are fostering sustainable entrepreneurship. In a dialogue between business leaders, business intermediaries, and donors, it looked at the barriers SMMEs are facing in building business linkages and discussed success factors that enable beneficial partnerships to emerge and flourish. The panel was moderated by Naysán Shaba, Director of Communications and Public Information (DCPI) of UNEP.
The SEED Africa Symposium is a much-needed multistakeholder forum held annually as part of SEED's efforts to foster the green economy at the grassroots and to encourage the growth of social and environmental entrepreneurship in Africa. Diverse opportunities for knowledge-sharing and networking included the Symposium Expo in which over 50 enterprises exhibited their products and services, and the “Netfloor” – a novel way of connecting with people where entrepreneurs and ecosystem players had the opportunity to present their expertise, services and needs. One highlight of the Symposium was the SEED International Awards Ceremony that honoured 41 innovative social and green start-ups: the 2014 SEED Winners.