Rio+20 User Guide        
      UNEP at Work                

In Depth
Seed Initiative Winners
Bringing Green Economy to the Grassroots at Rio+20

The SEED Initiative is a global partnership for action on sustainable development and the green economy.

Founded by UNEP, UNDP and IUCN, SEED supports innovative small-scale and locally driven entrepreneurships around the globe which integrate social and environmental benefits into their business model.

The 2011 winners were recently announced at a ceremony in Nairobi, Kenya. Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary-General, and UNEP Executive Director, said: “The SEED Winners illuminate a business model that cannot only be successful but have outcomes that meet the environmental and social imperatives of communities and countries across the globe. They underline that a transition to a Green Economy is not only a future possibility but a reality that is shaping the present and will define the decades to come if accelerated and scaled-up - Rio+20 is that opportunity in June next year.”

The winners represent 35 innovative start-up ventures in: Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Egypt, Ghana, Kenya, Madagascar, Nepal, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, The Gambia, Uganda, Zimbabwe.

The 2011 SEED Gender Equality Award Winner


  • The “Solid Waste Management and Community Mobilisation Program” is a waste collection and recycling initiative of over 1,000 households and businesses and is run by a women’s environment committee and supported by a local municipality. Landfill waste is reduced via recycling and biogas plants are fuelled by organic waste. A savings cooperative has also been established for 150 female members.

The 2011 SEED Award winners (by country)

Burkina Faso

  • The “Solar bread oven” is a large hybrid solar/ gas-fired oven usable for all kinds of baking and roasting. The oven will be distributed through local women cooperatives via a franchising network.
  • The “Recycling Centre for Used Plastic Bags” run by a women’s environmental group has developed a technique to weave fashion accessories, decorative objects, and city clothing out of used plastic bags.
  • “Voute Nubienne - Building Earth Roofs in the Sahel” The Nubian Vault Association trains entrepreneurs in the ancient technique of building durable roofs from unfired earth.


  • “TAYAB ECO-ORCHARDS” aims to relieve the effects of land scarcity leading to further deforestation.


  • “Karam” , a local partnership initiative, is driven by a social enterprise marketing traditional Egyptian handicraft products from natural or recycled resources which are made by rural artisans.

The Gambia

  • “GreenTech Company Ltd” markets briquettes made from groundnut shells in combination with fuel efficient stoves.


  • “Waste Enterprisers” has developed innovative ways of reusing human waste with the aim of improving sanitation services for the poor and restructuring the economics of sanitation in developing countries.
  • “Recycle Not A Waste Initiative - RECNOWA” trains and employs street youth from disadvantaged communities to clear their streets of plastic and other material waste and transforms them into handmade designer products.
  • “Man and Man Enterprise” and its business partners create employment by producing biomass-fuelled cooking stoves made from scrap metals.
  • “Bamboo substitute for timber: new livelihoods for rural communities in Ghana” works on the full bamboo value chain from reforestation to production and marketing of substitutes for timber products, creating alternative sources of income for rural communities.
  • “Rural Transportation and Renewable Products Conversion Centres for Agro-residues” works to establish an innovative sharedinfrastructure service for rural farmers, providing cargo bikes for the collection of crops and agro-residues which are converted to renewable energy sources.


  • “Enhancing Grassroots Women’s Economic and Social Empowerment in Kitui County, Kenya, through Sustainable Aloe Farming” provides rural income and facilitates the rehabilitation of wasteland by producing aloe-based skin care products.
  • “Kisumu Innovation Center - Kenya” is a social business marketing recycled handicraft products in cooperation with a local women’s and orphans’ self-help group and a nationwide marketing partner.
  • “Organic Farm Inputs and Farm Produce” supplies organic farmers with certified inputs and organic fertiliser while organising sales opportunities.
  • “Watamu Community Solid Waste Management and Recycling Enterprises” is creating a plastic recycling value chain. The results are cleaned-up beaches and new employment opportunities for women and youth.
  • “Use solar, save lives” trains youth in manufacturing solar-powered lanterns which are distributed to poor rural households.
  • “Upscaling the silviculture-based enterprises of coastal communities in Kenya” supports community-based organizations and small-holder farmers in establishing mangrove-based operations, such as aquaculture, bee keeping, and ecotourism.
  • “Promoting bamboo as a craft and technology application with a view to conserving Taita Hills Forests” supports bamboo plantations and the marketing of bamboo and other non-timber forest products, relieving the pressure for cutting down forests.


  • “SEPALI - Communitybased Silk Producers Association” provides technical and financial assistance to farmers of silk moths raised on indigenous trees which can be intercropped with existing agricultural produce.


  • “Sawdust Entrepreneurial Initiative Among Oko-baba Communities In Lagos, Nigeria” encourages the recycling of waste sawdust into briquettes as a cheap and clean alternative fuel for stoves.


  • “Project for producing edible mushroom spores” is pioneering the local production of primary mushroom spores through a laboratory run by a cooperative of HIV-infected women and widows.


  • “Feed yourself, care for yourself and beautify yourself with the same plants” is a women’s cooperative and a phytopharmaceutical laboratory is building a supply chain of natural ingredients based on fair-trade principles.
  • “Feed yourself, care for yourself and beautify yourself with the same plants” is a women’s cooperative and a phytopharmaceutical laboratory is building a supply chain of natural ingredients based on fair-trade principles.

South Africa

  • “Thrive” works in the areas of waste, local food, water, energy, and biodiversity to produce tangible environmental benefits while at the same time building capacity, creating jobs and generating income for local communities.
  • “Everpix-ACT-SA communities: natural tree products and community resource management” aims to augment rural income and incentivise tree planting by manufacturing and marketing products from indigenous trees grown by local communities, such as Marula nut oil.
  • “Why Honey” is a start-up aiming to increase an insufficient local bee population and building a fair-trade supply chain for honey and apiculture products by training women bee-keepers to become micro-entrepreneurs.
  • “The Development of a Khomani San Cultural and Nature Guiding Enterprise and Association” is an ecotourism enterprise that employs members of the local indigenous community.
  • “Imai Farming Cooperative” is a women’s cooperative which is increasing and stabilising farmers’ incomes and reducing waste by processing surplus fresh vegetable produce into pickles.

Sri Lanka

  • “Community-based, sustainable and commercially viable Aloe vera products as alternative income generation for fisherwomen in Bar Reef Special Management Area in Kalpitiya” low-cost aloe vera cultivation is offering an alternative livelihood to fisherwomen who use the unproductive lands of the coastal areas to produce beverages and supply the cosmetic industry.


  • “Butterfly farming for pro-poor tourism and environment conservation”: replicating their successful project in Zanzibar, this partnership is setting up a butterfly park as a tourist attraction, at the same time generating income for local farmers through butterfly farming.
  • “Plastic Waste Recycling as an Alternative to Burning and Landfilling” collects plastic waste which can be sold to the initiative’s recycling facility which in turn produces plastic pellets for industrial use.
  • “Enhancing women farmers’ access to profitable markets by developing a toolkit for value-added post-harvest solar fruit drying, handling and utilisation of horticultural crops for local and regional market procurement in East Africa” tackles a critical lack of food preservation and storage means through innovative solar drying technology.


  • “Solar Sister - African women led grassroots green energy revolution” runs a direct sales network of women entrepreneurs, selling solar-powered lanterns to rural households.


  • “Sustainable development through processing natural products” supports women entrepreneurs to harvest, process and market Marula-tree products.

Further details about all SEED Winners can be found on the SEED website at