Rethinking the Role of Business in Conservation: Why Small Local Enterprises are Key to Biodiversity and Climate Action
SEED's Senior Advisor Julia Rohe-Frydrych and Enterprise Support Advisor Luis Ebert recently wrote an article published on the development and social entrepreneurship platform Next Billion that addresses the key role of small local enterprises in the struggle for biodiversity and climate action. They write:
"In a world ruled by capitalist modes of production, we must find ways to consummate a marriage between market-based solutions and nature protection. To that end, a critically overlooked but impactful group is local biodiversity enterprises with innovative business models and an intrinsic motivation to conserve local wildlife. Biodiversity enterprises are micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) operating at the community level and using market-based mechanisms to sustainably manage, restore and protect biodiversity-rich ecosystems. These enterprises, by using business approaches and including local communities and marginalised people in their value chains, can resolve the dilemma of having to choose between economic development and ecological protection.
Biodiversity enterprises do not reinvent the wheel of business – they sell products and services for a profit, just like any other company. But they make the restoration, management or protection of biodiversity a crucial variable in the products or services they offer. While other companies make money from exploiting nature, these businesses make money from nature protection or restoration."
SEED-supported enterprises exemplify this: "Enterprises like Ikusasa Environmental Services, which operate in areas with uncontrolled invasive plant species, have specialised in products such as essential oils made from processing these plants, thereby increasing biodiversity integrity while generating profits. Enterprises in highly diverse ecosystems, such as primary rainforests, have established partnerships with indigenous communities and farmers to sustainably buy, harvest and process medicinal plants and herbs (e.g., Muthi Futhi) and honey (e.g., Green Honey), ensuring an equilibrium of resource extraction and fair product prices. And tree nurseries focusing on climate-resilient cashew seedlings (like Mootoo Cashew Suppliers) generate revenue while simultaneously rebuilding depleted ecosystems."