South Africa hosts worlds' new breed of entrepreneurs - environmental entrepreneurs Monday, 15 October 2007

Pretoria, South Africa. The Winners of the 2007 SEED Awards arrived in Pretoria on Saturday, 13 October for the Annual Partnership Forum and a two day workshop (15-17 October, 2007).
The workshop provides a platform for sharing experiences and strategies that have worked. It will also look at how partnerships are being used to implement the commitments from the Johannesburg World Summit on Sustainable Development and the Millennium Development Goals.

In his welcoming address, the Deputy Minister of Science and Technology, Derek Hanekom, emphasized the importance of bringing people and communities together, forging friendships to tackle the twin challenges of poverty and environmental degradation.

The SEED Awards recognize and reward five partnership-based initiatives that combine innovation and entrepreneurship in delivering effective social development and environmentally sustainable programs in their countries. The partnerships also serve as a model to inspire new local entrepreneurs, communities, companies and others to join hands in advancing sustainability.

During his keynote address, Mr Jay Naidoo, DBSA Chairman, highlighted the need to work in partnership, rather than unilaterally, so that all sectors of society benefit from economic growth. Profit should not be the sole motivation of entrepreneurial activity - reinvesting profits into the community empowers them, helping them to help themselves. The knowledge that communities have should not be ignored - rather it should be embraced and celebrated. Experts and leaders should be humble enough to accept that they do not have all of the answers. Communities usually know best what their priorities are and what is needed to solve a problem but they are often not given the tools or the platform to do so. Organisations like SEED put the power in the hands of the people at grassroots level, equipping them to make their own choices and realize a better quality of life.

Helen Marquard, Executive Director of SEED, warmly welcomed the generous invitation from DST to SEED, its partners and its winners, to exchange ideas and experience with each other and with organizations in South Africa. SEED, in supporting young enterprises whose focus is to create social benefits and to enhance environmental stewardship, is keen to open up opportunities for its winners, and to grow its activities. This Annual Partnership Forum was a resounding success on all fronts.

The 2007 SEED Award Winners were selected following a rigorous 6-month review process that examined more than 230 applications from some 70 countries worldwide. The partnership applicants represent nearly 1,100 organizations drawn from the private sector, non-governmental organizations, women's groups, labor, public authorities, U.N. agencies and others.

The five winning partnerships differ in that they address a wide range of issues. They are alike, however, in that each translates internationally agreed-upon environmental and developmental goals—such as those put forth in the U.N.'s Millennium Declaration and at the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development—into community-based actions that respond to specific regional priorities and needs.

The 2007 SEED Awards winners are:

In Vietnam, Bridging the Gap uses sustainable cultivation of traditional medicinal plants to develop high value-added products, the manufacturing and proceeds of which improve the livelihoods of ethnic minority communities

In Peru, T'ikapapa links small-operation potato farmers in the Andes with high-value niche markets in urban centers. T'ikapapa promotes biodiversity conservation and environmentally friendly potato production techniques while giving farmers open access to technological assistance and innovation, encouraging local farmer's associations and propagating the flow of market information;

In Ecuador, Cultivos Ecuandinos has reintroduced native cereal and tuber crops that diversify food production, improve local food security and reduce soil degradation. The partnership then sells surplus yield through a women's organization it has created in three communities;

In Brazil, Projeto Bagagem, creates unique travel packages that give visitors a first-hand look at local development initiatives and nature reserves in a novel approach to community-based ecotourism; and

In Sierra Leone, a unique partnership between a traditional healers' association, an academic research institute and local communities will help to protect biodiversity and provide sustainable livelihoods for local communities through the establishment of the Tiwai Island Health and Fitness Center—a facility to provide health services based on principles of West African ethno-medicine.

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