Turning Ideas into Impact – SEED presents its 10 Year Flagship Report

Social and environmental entrepreneurship is pivotal for sustainable development and poverty reduction. The recently published Flagship Report gives insights on the work of SEED, provides survey based information on the SEED Winners and shares ten key learnings from the last decade. 


In 2015, SEED is celebrating the 10th anniversary of the SEED Awards. In order to introduce to SEED’s work the organisation has recently published an in-depth Flagship Report "Turning Ideas into Impact: Setting the Stage for the next 10 Years of Green and Inclusive Growth through Entrepreneurship". Launched at the SEED Africa Symposium held on 9-10 September 2015 in Nairobi, Kenya, the report looks at a decade of social and environmental entrepreneurship, provides vital information on the SEED Winners and shares ten key lessons SEED has learned.     

SEED Winners demonstrate: sustainable business and green growth start at the grassroots

Since its creation in 2002 and the first five winners of the SEED Awards being announced in 2005, SEED has been supporting SMMEs in developing and emerging countries. Today, from Bogotá over Nairobi to Hanoi, 202 SEED Winners contribute to green, inclusive growth in more than 37 countries.

Working at the grassroots SEED Winners have reached more than 12.3 million total beneficiaries at the bottom of the pyramid (BoP). They are included in the business models as suppliers, employees or distributors; and a particular focus is put on marginalised populations. For example, EcoPost, a social enterprise from Kenya, has grown from a start-up cottage industry to an enterprise employing 1,000 people along the value chain. The story of EcoPost is one of ten that are featured amongst comprehensive general data on the SEED Winners in the Flagship Report.

The report summarises the findings of a detailed online survey and the according follow-up interviews, which was conducted with the 175 SEED Winners from 2005 to 2014. Some of the outcomes are particularly striking: 88 per cent of the SEED Winners still operate and of these, 80 per cent meet or even exceed expectations. The environmental impacts of the SEED Winners are astonishing, too: SEED Winners have recycled materials weighing the equivalent of 15,000 elephants. Furthermore, the SEED 10 Year Flagship Report takes an in-depth look at the diverse enterprises and provides information on their organisational structures as well as the impacts of the triple bottom line approach. Moreover, the report sheds some light on the challenges enterprises face along the way, the reasons for success and failure and highlights the importance of multi-stakeholder partnerships.

Over the years, SEED has substantially expanded its programme, adapting it to the support needs of the social and environmental enterprises it works with. Next to being active in policy and research, SEED has built up the growing annual SEED Awards scheme, a four-tier support programme that provides the fitting tools to an enterprise at any stage, as well as a successful BDS+ methodology.

10 Years of SEED Awards, 10 Stories – and 10 Things learned

Learning from experience – not only SEED Winners are masters of this exercise, SEED itself has memorised key learnings on green, inclusive business in the past decade and collected the top ten in its 10 Year Flagship Report. From "Multi-stakeholder partnerships are hard work, but they’re worth it" to "Small is beautiful, but impactful" and "Social and environmental start-ups: be patient and persistent", these learnings are universal and meant to be a guide on the rather rough path that still lies ahead in social and environmental entrepreneurship.

With the Post-2015 Agenda and the SDGs being drawn up as well as the upcoming United Nations Conference on Climate Change, the significant contribution that social and environmental enterprises that apply green and inclusive business models can make should not be underestimated. The SEED 10 Year Flagship Report adds even more momentum to this message and at the same time shows that also SEED itself “is well-positioned to play an important role in sustainable development at the grassroots level”, as said by UNEP Deputy Executive Director and UN Assistant-Secretary-General Ibrahim Thiaw.

The full 10 Year Flagship Report "Turning Ideas into Impact: Setting the Stage for the next 10 Years of Green and Inclusive Growth through Entrepreneurship" is available for free download on the SEED Website.