SEED organised and hosted the webinar "From Impact to Scale: Challenges & Successes Leading the Way to an Eco-Inclusive SME Action Agenda"
#SEED20Years Online Celebration
On May 19, SEED organised and hosted the webinar "From Impact to Scale: Challenges & Successes Leading the Way to an Eco-Inclusive SME Action Agenda" to celebrate SEED’s 20th anniversary. More than 130 participants from different parts of the world, from Africa to Asia, joined the virtual event that kicked off this year’s SEED 20 Years campaign. During the event, speakers shared the successes and learnings of the past 20 years working with or as small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and looked forward to new ones together.
Arab Hoballah, SEED’s Executive Director: “SEED has been effectively contributing and providing effective examples on how we can really get the information on the ground to help the countries deliver on sustainable development goals.”
Representatives from the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety Protection (BMU) and the Government of Flanders joined the discussion to raise a toast for SEED’s 20th anniversary and to highlight how successful effective partnerships can be on helping SMEs deliver impact.
Steven Stone, Deputy Director, Economy Division at UN Environment Programme, highlighted how there is a huge role for organisations like SEED to fill the existing gap: build capacity to implement resource efficiency and circularity practices, especially at the SME level. Upscaling programmes and skills development and approaches for upstream solutions are of great value.
The General Representative of Flanders in Southern Africa, Geraldine Reymenants, shared why the Government of Flanders has actively been supporting SEED for years: “It is important to offer concrete tools and working methods to eco-inclusive enterprises to ensure their successful and sustainable growth”.
Stephan Contius, Commissioner for the 2030 Agenda, Head of Division United Nations, Developing Countries and Emerging Economies at the BMU, gave a shout-out to adelphi as the backbone of the initiative, as well as the founding, funding and implementing partners: “Decarbonisation of our economies and societies cannot afford to move forward only on plastic or climate issues as energy efficiency and renewable, it has to take on board also circular economy, resource efficiency, nature issues, etc.”, where SEED plays a crucial role.
The event provided a platform for SEED-supported enterprises (Perfect Fit, Wuchi Wami, Ecoplastile) to share their journey and lessons learned, as well as highlighting the need for support for scaling up and replication. SMEs face a lot of challenges. Lack of financial and accompanying non-financial support were the biggest and most repeated challenges. The event, however, was also a celebration of successes.
Harry Malichi, Founder and CEO of Wuchi Wami, shared how at first they thought that they just lacked money, but after winning the SEED 2021 Climate Adaptation Award they realised they needed the capacity building to be able to redefine the company, to be able to scale up and be investment ready.
Franc Kamugyisha, Founder, Director and CEO of Ecoplastile Industries: "The SEED support, especially the non-financial, helped Ecoplastile redefine its business model, enabling us to measure and monitor the social, economic and environmental impact and become investment ready. We're ready for scaling and replication of our model, but still too risky for mainstream venture capital. There's a huge need for blended finance for product market fit SMEs like Ecoplastile to build towards net zero."
Co-Founder and COO of Perfect Fit Indonesia, Riesa Putri, also explained how SEED has contributed to the growth of her enterprise. The SEED-supported enterprise became Low Carbon Award Runner-up in 2021, and the support received enabled Perfect Fit to elevate their digital presence and add value to their customer journey.
To conclude the panel discussion, Martijn Blom, Manager for Benelux and Impact Funds Initiative Coordinator at the European Venture Philanthropist Association (EVPA), recognised the work of the three SMEs present at the event and ended with an optimistic message on how the interest in investing in projects like theirs is growing.
Before closing the event, SEED Board Member Crispin Rapinet and former SEED’s Executive Director Helen Marquard, who were among the attendees, spontaneously jumped in with positive messages – recognising SEED’s work in the past 20 years and looking forward to so much more to achieve in the 20 years coming forward. “It’s thrilling!”, expressed Helen Marquard, who build up SEED. Crispin Rapinet, on the other hand, has been leading SEED’s work for the past years.
After the interventions, the event concluded with SEED coming to maturity, as it were, with over 130 people celebrating together online. And many, many messages in the chat:
“Happy birthday, SEED!"
If you missed the event, watch the recording on YouTube here.