About SEED

SEED was founded at the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg by UNEP, UNDP and IUCN. In order to tap into the full potential of market-based mechanisms, avert environmental degradation and tackle social problems, a global initiative was needed which could trigger and promote entrepreneurship at the local level, and stimulate enabling global policy frameworks at the same time. SEED is based on the understanding that the promotion of social and environmental entrepreneurship is pivotal for sustainable development and poverty reduction.

The SEED Theory of Change

SEED Theory of Change

Promoting Entrepreneurship for Sustainable Development » SEED works with social and environmental enterprises and policy makers promoting entrepreneurship for sustainable development. Through the strengthening of enabling business conditions and the acceleration of social and environmental SMMEs, SEED contributes to private sector development while fostering social and environmental impacts.

Green and Inclusive Growth » The growth and success of social and environmental enterprises that yield a transformative and collective impact potential is central to green and inclusive growth. A dynamic private sector driven by social and environmental enterprises creates green jobs, stimulates local economies, strengthens communities and enhances environmentally sound management practices. These enterprises not only spur development and market growth through the provision of innovative goods and services, but also ensure the preservation of the very foundation of national economies – environmental and social resources.

Reducing Poverty and Environmental Degradation » Social and environmental enterprises create a lasting collective impact for marginalised communities. They include the poor population along their value chain, working with them as suppliers, distributors or consumers. The focus lies in particular on deprived women, unemployed youth and on the creation of jobs in the informal economy. At the same time, social and environmental enterprises help to protect the environment and contribute to global climate change mitigation by furthering the sustainable use of local natural resources and assisting local communities in adapting to climate change. Through the provision of sustainably produced consumer goods and services,  they avert environmental degradation and pioneer business models which are based on environmental sustainability.


SEED - Multiple Areas of Interventions

SEED Programme

Foster Enterprise Development » Through an annual global awards scheme SEED selects the most promising social and environmental enterprises and provides them with a package of capital, networking and capacity-building support. This furthers their ability to scale-up or expand their business operations. SEED does this through direct tailor-made advisory services provided by its network of in-country service providers and geared by the SEED Toolkit.

Building Partnerships for Impact » SEED hosts Symposia, National Dialogue Fora and Workshops that stimulate an exchange of experiences and peer-learning while also triggering South-South collaboration. This enhances partnerships between and within all involved stakeholders to support the systemic uptake of entrepreneurial solutions to social and environmental problems. Those SEED events bridge the gap between entrepreneurs, business leaders, policy-makers, the community of finance and practitioners to foster partnerships and networks for action.

Strengthen Enterprise Ecosystems » SEED works with partners at the national and international level to enhance the quality and capacities of business development service (BDS) providers. This improves the business environment of social and environmental enterprises, facilitating access to advisory services and ultimately, access to finance. SEED does this through the provision of toolkits, the implementation of Training of Trainers and the co-development of an international standard for BDS providers.

Shaping Green and Inclusive Policies » SEED gathers evidence on how social and environmental enterprises grow, which barriers they face and which measurable impacts they achieve. Thus, it provides key insights for national and international policy-makers. This promotes enabling frameworks and improved market conditions for social and environmental enterprises. Through these policy insights, SEED advocates the development and implementation of green and inclusive private sector policies accelerating entrepreneurial solutions to policy- and decision-makers.


Achim Steiner new“The SEED Award winners are shining examples of what can be achieved with very little in terms of funds but an extraordinary amount by intelligent management, hard work and by shining a fresh lens on persistent and emerging challenges. They demonstrate with their innovation that environmental challenges can be solved, and can be solved in a way that at the same time creates economic and social benefits. We therefore must do all we can to allow creative ideas to emerge. Local entrepreneurs can play an enormous role in demonstrating how the social and green economy can work and so help to spur on a collective and global sense of responsibility for our planet.”

Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary General and Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

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