13 Jul 2017 Story Sustainable Development Goals

Fifteen of the best: African start-ups receive prestigious SWITCH Africa Green-SEED Awards

Banana-stem bags in Kenya, school benches made from plastic waste in Burkina Faso, improved livelihoods for coffee farmers, and safer mountain gorillas in Uganda—these are some of the 15 winners of this year’s SWITCH Africa Green-SEED Awards announced today during the High-Level Political Forum in New York.

The SEED awards are part of a global programme that recognizes innovative, environmentally friendly start-ups in developing countries, and helps them grow their businesses and lead by example.

Founded in 2002 by the United Nations Environment Programme, the United Nations Development Programme and the International Union for Conservation of Nature, the SAG-SEED Award provides winners with tailored business and financial advice, help with marketing and publicity, and introductions to funding bodies, policy makers and other avenues of support.

Winners also join a network of more than 200 previous SAG-SEED alumni from 38 countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America.

The 15 winning enterprises were selected by an independent Jury of International Experts out of more than 300 applications. Their activities cover agriculture, waste management, energy, manufacturing, biodiversity conservation and tourism.

Full details of the winning projects can be found on the SEED website, but here’s a quick run-down of today’s winners:


Coopérative Sahel Vert: Clean energy and organic fertiliser through biodigesters in Burkina Faso

Coopérative Sahel Vert encourages the generation and use of clean biogas and organic fertiliser by constructing and maintaining biodigesters in rural areas. This helps the environment and the sale of surplus agricultural production and organic fertilisers provides extra income.



Lagazel: Household solar lamps in Burkina Faso

Lagazel makes and sells sustainable solar lamps for households without electricity. Local production provides jobs and solar lamps fight climate change and make for healthier living conditions.




TECO²: Affordable, durable school benches from plastic waste in Burkina Faso

TECO² markets school benches made from plastic and other locally sourced waste, reducing deforestation and environmental pollution.



RECFAM – PRIDE Pads: Women’s empowerment through sanitary pad production in Ghana

RECFAM produces organic and biodegradable sanitary pads out of banana and plantain fibre for schoolgirls and women in impoverished communities. Local women are trained and employed at every stage of production and sale.



WASHKing: Eco-friendly biodigester toilets in Ghana

WASHKing produces, installs biodigester toilets out of eco-friendly materials for low-income urban households. They also provide training on how to use them and an after-sales services.



Horizon Business Ventures Limited: Essential oils sustainably produced by local communities in Kenya

Horizon Business Ventures trains and employs seed collection groups to processes and market seed oil to local and international cosmetics companies.



ICOSEED Enterprises: Fabric from banana stems in Kenya

ICOSEED turns leftover banana stems into fabric for bags, purses and table mats. The enterprise helps farmers earn money by producing the fabric and sewing of products.



Kencoco Limited: Charcoal briquettes from coconut waste in Kenya

Kencoco produces and sells charcoal briquettes from recycled coconut waste and charcoal dust, and resells clean cook stoves. The products are a low-cost alternative to environmentally damaging fuels such as firewood, kerosene and wood charcoal.



Walali Company Limited: Sustainable food production from local resources in Mauritius

Walali adds value to octopus and red bean – two key dishes on Rodrigues Island. Locally sourced raw materials are processed and packaged at a local production facility and marketed in Rodrigues and Mauritius.



Ekasi Energy: Clean and affordable cooking for off-grid households in South Africa

Ekasi Energy produces biomass cooking fuel and clean cooking appliances for informal settlements with little or no grid power. These reduce health threats caused by burning wood, charcoal and paraffin, which are usually used for cooking.



iThemba Phakama: Better jobs for informal waste pickers in South African townships

Themba Phakama is a voluntary association of informal waste pickers providing tricycles and safety gear to its members. The tricycles are used as an alternative to the stolen shopping used by many informal waste pickers.



Umgibe Farming Organics and Training Institute: Promoting food security with a climate-smart vegetable growing system in South Africa

Umgibe Farming Organics and Training Institute supports local farming co-operatives with access to technology, training and markets. The enterprise capacitates urban and small-scale farmers to graduate into commercial business units using Umgibe’s cost-effective and sustainable growing system.



Gorilla Conservation Coffee: Saving gorillas one sip of coffee at a time in Uganda

GCCoffee buys coffee at a premium, then sells it at a price that can cover a donation to the organization Conservation Through Public Health.



Masupa Enterprises: Making charcoal briquettes from waste in Uganda

Masupa Enterprises’s briquettes are made from leaves, paper, fruit peels and other waste, and sold together with affordable cook stoves. 



Brent Technologies: Recycling waste motor oil into reusable resources in Uganda

Brent Technologies transforms waste oil into fresh oil, diesel fuel and roofing asphalt shingles. This overcomes fuel shortages and improves transportation to areas with limited access to basic necessities.