2017 SEED East Africa Symposium: Eco-Inclusive Enterprise Development in East Africa

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The SEED East Africa Symposium 2017 was held on September 5th in Kampala. The successful event brought together enterprises, financial institutions, policy makers, business development service providers and international organisations to explore approaches and cross sectoral partnerships essential to the incubation, consolidation and replication of locally led eco-inclusive business models in East Africa.

KAMPALA, 5th September 2017: Eco-inclusive enterprises are vivid examples how the private sector plays a significant role in implementing the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda in East African communities. But how can we capitalise on the successes already visible and increase the sector’s size and impact? How can key stakeholders work together to ensure that small and medium sized enterprises receive tailored business development support and can tackle their financial needs?

These key questions were tackled by over 75 key stakeholders representing enterprises, financial institutions, policy makers and business development service providers from Uganda and Kenya at the SEED East Africa Symposium 2017. Also present were representatives of the United Nations and European Union. The event was part of “Promoting Eco-Entrepreneurship in Africa", a SWITCH-Africa Green multi-country project in Burkina Faso, Ghana, Kenya, Mauritius, South Africa and Uganda and generously supported by the European Union.

SEED was honoured to welcome Joshua Mutambi from the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Cooperatives of the Republic of Uganda, Wilson Kwamya from UNPD on behalf of UN Resident Coordinator Rosa Malango and Cédric Merel, Head of Cooperation at the Delegation of the European Union to Uganda who opened the 2017 SEED East Africa Symposium with great applause by all invitees. All institutions SEED highlighted their particular commitment towards SMEs to foster green and inclusive economies and brought great insights for the various stakeholders in the eco-inclusive space.

SEED Symposium UG 43Discussions kicked off with a Practitioners Dialogue on the replication of business models „From Incubation to Replication – Enhancing Business Development Support“. In a highly interactive format participants discussed how eco-inclusive enterprise development approaches could be improved, enriched and even better tailored to the needs of SMEs of all stages of the entrepreneurial lifecycle, from incubation to replication. Jointly, best practices and new ideas were developed in order to tap into the full potential of non-financial capacity building for East African enterprises. Thanks to the diverse stakeholders different perspectives from enterprises, BDS provider and funders were discussed.

The Practitioners Dialogue highlighted the lack of accessibility of Business Development Services due to several factors like insufficient funding or geographical reasons, since BDS provider are mainly available in urban areas and also due to language barriers. Furthermore practitioners outlined the challenge of suitability of services provided. Business Development Service Providers often struggle to tailor their services to the actual needs and priorities of the enterprises. An idea to solve both challenges was to involve more local providers and advisers into the business support. Specific ideas to strengthen partnerships and collaboration between enterprises and Business Development Service providers were the building of platforms, founding local associations and introducing an online system with a shared database of enterprises.

SEED Symposium UG 115The event furthermore featured an interactive panel and roundtable on Boosting collaboration for eco-inclusive enterprise development. Ideas and solutions for supporting the private sector to foster East Africa’s path towards an inclusive green economy were showcased by Jealous Chirove from the International Labour Organization, Sebastian Okeke from the African Development Bank,  Samuel Rigu from Safi Organics and Noah Ssempijja from YICE Uganda (two formers Winners of the SAG-SEED Awards 2016), as well as business founder Carolyne Kirabo from Yunus Social Business. The highly committed speakers shared valuable insights and success factors of entrepreneurial journeys and successful business development. Thereby having passion and dreaming big, as well as sharing this dream and the continuous search for new innovations revealed itself as crucial success factors from the founders’ perspectives. The enterprises also pointed to the lack of access to information on funding when struggling with financial challenges. While network and collaboration was clearly acknowledged as one of the most important success factors, the importance to set a goal before starting the partnership and to have a clear guideline of how the partnership will benefit both parts was emphasized.

SEEDEAS All WinnersA true highlight of the event was the SAG-SEED Award Ceremony, where six of the 15 winners of the prestigious SWITCH Africa Green (SAG)-SEED Awards from Kenya and Uganda were honoured for their innovative solutions and business cases. All Award winners contribute to locally implementing the 2030 SDG Agenda. The notable winners are Brent Technologies, Gorilla Conservation Coffee, and Masupa Enterprises from Uganda; and Horizon Business Ventures Limited, ICOSEED Enterprises, and Kencoco Limited from Kenya. Together they have achieved exceptional results from a societal and environmental perspective. They have provided more than 1,000 individuals with training, employment opportunities and new income streams for farmers, youth and women with this number expecting to grow further. This is on top of the environmental benefits such as mass reduction in consumer waste, and reduction of illegal logging and charcoal burning by 40%.

Finally, the event was accompanied by an Enterprise Solutions Exhibition that showcased innovative, local entrepreneurial approaches to sustainable development challenges in the region. Thereby SEED Winners and selected further inspiring eco-inclusive enterprises exhibited their products and business models in a marketplace format.

Participants valued the event as a platform to exchange insights and jointly develop new approaches. Also Cédric Merel, Head of Cooperation at the EU Delegation to Uganda who assured continued support for eco-inclusive SMEs: "The twofold objective of the European Union is to foster jobs creation and contribute to an economy more respectful of our environment. This means that we intend to engage more with the private sector on the sustainable path towards development. We want to build on the experience gained by SEED and support the incubation model for the creation and growth of more micro, small and medium-sized enterprises.”

Read more about SEED East Africa Symposium via local news coverages:


The SEED East Africa Symposium 2017 Summary Report is available here.


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