SEED Special Recognition Award

Ten years ago, five enterprises received the first SEED Awards. Since then a total of 202 innovative social and environmental start-up enterprises have been honoured with a SEED Award. To celebrate the 10-year anniversary of the SEED Awards, a Special Recognition Award was presented at the SEED Africa Symposium 2015. Chosen in an online vote with more than 5,500 participants 2013 SEED Low Carbon Winner Tambul Leaf Plates from India received 18,559 votes and was chosen as the winner of the SEED Special Recognition Award. The enterprise produces and markets biodegradable disposable dinnerware from the fallen sheath of the arecanut plant, reducing plastic waste pollution and creating a value chain on the basis on an abundant natural resource.

The Special Recognition Award highlights the extraordinary and lasting contributions of SEED Winners for the sustainable development of their respective communities. In that regard, Tambul Leaf Plates has written its very own convincing success story. In the last four years Tambul Leaf Plates has been able to generate sustainable livelihood for 2000+ rural youths and promote 100+ arecanut leaf plate making units?, founder Arindam Dasgupta said in a recent interview. More success stories like the one of Tambul Leaf Plates can be found in SEED’s 10 Year Flagship Report “Turning Ideas into Impact: Setting the Stage for the next 10 Years of Green and Inclusive Growth through Entrepreneurship?.

The nominees for the Special Recognition Award were:


1. A Global Marketing Partnership for SRI Indigenous Rice, Cambodia

The SRI Global Marketing Partnership addresses the problem of commercial rice cultivation, which has become increasingly questionable in the developing world as a result of low market prices, the financial and environmental costs of using chemicals and fertilisers and the decrease in rice diversity. This partnership between farming communities, a research institute, NGOs, and businesses encourages the use of SRI (System of Rice Intensification) methods, thereby boosting rural incomes while, conserving rice biodiversity, improving the environment and significantly reducing the cost of inputs faced by small farmers.

2. BanaPads Social Enterprise, Uganda

BanaPads Social Enterprise produces comfortable sanitary pads from natural agricultural waste materials. The pads are low-cost, fully biodegradable, safe and hygienic, and made locally, following international standards. BanaPads are sourced and produced locally using readily available waste from banana pseudostem. The enterprise employs a franchise model led by young rural women to manufacture and distribute the pads. Using a door-to-door distribution model these young female entrepreneurs known as “Champions" are being provided with a complete start-up kit of inventory, training and marketing support.

3. greenABLE, South Africa

greenABLE is a South African non-profit enterprise that has set up a recycling facility with the double aim of reducing waste and environmental pollution while also offering disabled persons a livelihood. They have found an innovative solution for remanufacturing empty printer cartridges and thus provide income generating opportunities for previously disadvantaged and unemployed women with disabilities. In its recycling facility, greenABLE provides workplace training for the disabled persons who dismantle the cartridges, enabling them to attend certified courses adapted for school leavers and to access the job market.

4. Lighting Up Hope and Communities, Nicaragua

Lighting up Hope and Communities is a co-operative enterprise that produces and markets solar products made from recycled solar cells and solar cookers adapted for local needs in Nicaragua. The enterprise is based on a partnership between a university research centre, a women’s cooperative, an NGO and solar technology experts. The development of this model represented a positive step in rebuilding society after civil war and the Solar Women of Totogalpa, have now been recognised as a legal cooperative by the National Assembly. They have now built a restaurant on the Pan-American highway, where they can serve their own solar food and continue to promote the benefits of renewable energy whilst empowering rural women.

5. Madagascar's first community-run marine protected area

An experimental, community-led scheme in Madagascar that demonstrates how partnerships between local people, research institutes and NGOs can achieve marine conservation while creating sustainable livelihoods. The initiative established Madagascar’s first community-run Marine Protected Area (MPA) near the village of Andavadoaka where the poverty-stricken Vezo population is entirely dependent on marine resources for subsistence and family income. The lessons learned have led to the introduction of new fisheries legislation by the Malagasy government and the model of working closely with the local communities has been replicated in other countries, like Fiji and Malaysia.

6. Man and Man Enterprises, Ghana

Man and Man Enterprise produces and markets highly efficient biomass cooking stoves under the ‘Holy Cook’ brand. Through its effective design and heat insulating ceramic liner, the stoves offer improved performance, longer lifetime and higher efficiency compared to conventional metal stoves., saving 40% on charcoal and cost of cooking fuel while emitting less harmful smoke and being safer to operate. The stoves cost the same as conventional stoves and have a longer lifetime, and by making them widely available and educating the population about their benefits, the enterprise contributes to employment generation, costs savings for households and substantially to reducing air pollution, deforestation and greenhouse gas emissions in Ghana.

7. Proplanet, Colombia

Proplanet is a Colombian enterprise that offers sustainable products made from hard-to recycle materials like Tetra-Pak and plastified paper. The raw materials are sourced from local collection centres and are then transformed into food packaging, construction materials (e.g. roofs like on the picture), or paper fibres, which are then sold to retailers, catering companies and local paper factories. The enterprise thus creates a new life cycle for products that were previously discarded, replaces non-biodegradable packaging and opens up a new market for niche products while offering waste collectors additional income opportunities.

8. Tambul Leaf Plates, India

Tambul Leaf Plates creates a value chain on the basis of a natural resource that is abundant in India’s Assam province: the fallen sheath of the arecanut plant. Producing and marketing biodegradable disposable dinnerware from the sheath, the enterprise offers an alternative to plastic dinnerware and in turn tackles the pervasive problem of plastic waste pollution. The enterprise further facilitates the establishment of village-based plate production units and provides technical, financial and marketing support for sourcing plates from those producers. Local youth and women are provided with skills training enabling them to find employment with plate production units, or setup their own unit.

9. Use Solar, Save Lives, Kenya

Use Solar, Save Lives is a Kenyan initiative that designs, produces and distributes solar-powered lanterns known as “MwangaBora?. The lanterns are distributed particularly to poor rural communities living below the poverty line with limited access to electricity. The enterprise is working with women’s groups in the villages helping them to set up environmentally sound ventures with the money that would otherwise be spent on kerosene. While not being directly involved in setting up the ventures, the enterprise provides guidance on how likely particular ventures are to succeed and how best to establish and manage them.

10. Voûte Nubienne - building Earth Roofs in the Sahel, Burkina Faso

The Nubian Vault Association (Association la Voûte Nubienne, AVN) offers an innovative solution to resolve housing problems in Burkina Faso and the Sahel zone in general. The model draws on an ancestral building technique using unfired earth instead of wood, sheet metal or cement, which can be mastered by skilled masons according to the local market situation. This technique protects the environment by avoiding the use of wood, therefore saving trees, and metal sheeting which has a high carbon impact in terms of production and transportation.

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