SEED Research

A central and defining feature of the SEED programme is its commitment to research so as to increase:
  • knowledge for enterprises and,
  • the understanding of how social and environmental start-ups grow, which barriers they face, their economic, social and environmental impact and in turn their contribution to sustainable development.

Like the rest of the programme, SEED’s research programme expanded over the years and in 2009 SEED embarked on an extensive 3-year study. This consisted of following SEED Winners from 2005-2011 as well as applicants of the SEED Awards 2010-2011 and looking in detail at:

  • the social, economic and environmental targets they set
  • the extent and rate at which they met those targets
  • the support they needed
  • the barriers to their success and how initiatives like SEED could contribute to their growth.

Based on the results, SEED and the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD), SEED’s research partner in 2007-2012 have:

  • drawn out trends,
  • developed resources on crosscutting themes such as developing and measuring critical success factors, including triple bottom line performance; how to grow a start-up sustainable development enterprise; managing partnerships; and other support needs
  • developed tools to help the global community of social and environmental enterprises, and
  • generated insights targeted at policy- and decision-makers on enabling conditions for these enterprises to contribute to a greener economy in their countries. 

This research will continue and will be augmented by impact studies.

Latest findings

There is little doubt from the data collected over the three years of the study that the majority of enterprises within this community of social and environmental enterprises are changing the model of how to deliver sustainable development on the ground. The SEED winners in particular are demonstrating significant capacity to establish and deliver on social, environmental and business targets and indicate a level of progress beyond that of the survey group as a whole. Below is a summary of the main findings:

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