Winners of the 2021 SEED Awards

A collage of the 2021 SEED Award winners

The SEED Awards for Entrepreneurship in Sustainable Development promote eco-inclusive enterprises in emerging and developing economies. This year’s nine winners and 39 runners-up from across Africa and Asia are examples of the creativity and innovation of green MSMEs.


Last week, SEED announced the winners of the SEED Awards for Entrepreneurship in Sustainable Development (SEED Awards) at the UN’s High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF). The nine winners and 39 runners-up, who hail from nine countries across Africa and Asia, showcased their innovative and sustainable enterprises which contribute to climate adaptation and lower carbon use.

Winners of the SEED Awards will be awarded matching grants of between 10,000 and 15,000 euros and will receive tailored one-to-one advisory services for up to a year to scale their operations, as part of the renowned SEED Accelerator programme. In line with the principle of “awarding the best and moving the rest”, 39 runners-up will also be supported through the SEED Catalyser programme, to refine their business models and optimise their impacts while advancing their investment readiness.

Innovative solutions for sustainable living

In the SEED Low Carbon Awards in Africa, waste management companies were recognised, including Regenize, a Cape Town-based enterprise which gives out virtual cash in exchange for rubbish, and Ghanaian start-up, JVL-YKMA Recycling Plant which converts organic waste into compost and fuel briquettes. Peec Energy from Uganda was also selected for its smart metering solutions for solar mini grids.

The SEED Low Carbon Award winners in Asia focused largely on enterprises utilising the circular economy model. Indian start-up PadCare Labs which creates recyclable materials out of soiled menstrual pads took home the Award, alongside Sampangan from Indonesia which converts waste into high-value, sustainable materials, and Thai start-up moreloop which upcycles dead-stock fabrics to tackle waste in the fashion industry.

The winners of the SEED Climate Adaptation Awards includes Kalahari Honey in Botswana which trains farmers to use bees to stop elephants destroying their farms, Wuchi Wami in Zambia, which promotes sustainable bee farming, and EcoGen, a Malawian enterprise which turns leftover food into cooking gas.

Promoting MSMEs for a green recovery

The SEED Awards ceremony, taking place on July 13th, 2021 at the UN’s High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF), also saw SEED present two new reports: “Journeys to Scale”, a typology and analysis of eco-inclusive SMEs, and SEED’s “Green Recovery Snapshot” findings, calling on governments, donors, and financial providers to increase targeted support for MSMEs as they stimulate economic growth in a post-COVID world. MSMEs are responsible for creating seven out of ten jobs across emerging markets, and green and social MSMEs deliver environmental and social impact through their activities, products, and services, making them essential actors in achieving a green recovery.

The Government of Flanders, primary sponsor of the SEED Climate Adaptation Awards, wants to play a leading role in this. Yves Wantens, General Representative of the Government of Flanders in the United States, stressed that they were “proud to support the SEED Awards, which recognise and scale the impact of eco-inclusive enterprises across these local communities. As we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic, MSMEs are at the forefront of enabling green recovery and delivering on SDGs, for the good of the wider community and the planet.”

The German Federal Environment Ministry (BMU) agrees with this. BMU Parliamentarian State Secretary Rita Schwarzelühr-Sutter commented: “Micro and small enterprises play a vital role in the transformation to a decarbonised, more sustainable development. Many of these enterprises contribute greatly to this transformation. The SEED Awards are instrumental for scaling such enterprises, equipping the founders with the tools, knowledge and networks they need to maximise their impact within their local communities and beyond.” For this reason, the BMU supports the SEED Low Carbon Awards as the primary sponsor. 

SEED Award winners drive change and inspire

The aim of the SEED Awards is not only to provide support to the winners and runners-up, but to help make a larger impact on their communities. Highlighting impressive examples of green entrepreneurship can cause a ripple effect that inspires both other entrepreneurs to follow their ideas for eco-inclusive start-ups and governmental and financial institutions to support them. SEED’s Director of Operations, Rainer Agster, says: “The calibre of SEED Award entries this year was outstanding, and we extend our congratulations to all nine winners and 39 runners-up. We hope the enterprises identified and promoted by the SEED Awards will be a source of inspiration for aspiring entrepreneurs across emerging economies. Through the SEED Awards, we will support 48 enterprises in 2021, and through our other programmes, several hundreds more. For each of those, however, there are thousands more eco-inclusive enterprises furthering SDGs which can be amplified with the right support. Therefore, we strongly encourage policy makers and financial actors to take a closer look at these eco-inclusive businesses and start or scale support programmes for them.”

Of the 2021 SEED Awards cohort, 69 per cent of enterprise leaders are 18-35 years-old and 52 percent are female-led enterprises. Since their inception in 2005, the SEED Awards have awarded 311 enterprises in 40 countries and have facilitated the disbursement of over one million euros in grants. Each individual SEED enterprise has saved an average of 7,300 tonnes of CO2, generated more than 9,399 kWh of renewable energy, and created 28.4 jobs, out of which 32 percent are offered to people at the Bottom of the Pyramid (BoP).

For more information on the winners and runners-up, please visit the SEED website.

About the SEED Awards 

The SEED Awards for Entrepreneurship in Sustainable Development (SEED Awards) identify and promote eco-inclusive enterprises in emerging and developing economies, giving them the opportunity to scale their businesses through grants, strategy advice, access to investors, and global profiling. The SEED Low Carbon Awards 2021 in Ghana, India, Indonesia, South Africa, Thailand, and Uganda are sponsored by the International Climate Initiative (IKI) of the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU). The SEED Climate Adaptation Awards 2021 in Malawi, Zambia, Botswana are sponsored by the Government of Flanders.

About SEED

SEED is a global partnership for action on sustainable development and the green economy. Since 2006, adelphi has been supporting SEED as an implementing partner and has been responsible for carrying out multiple programme components. In 2013, adelphi took on the project sponsorship and carries out all activities within the SEED programme.

Founded by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) at the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, SEED believes entrepreneurship is key in driving sustainable development. 

SEED’s enterprise support programmes in Asia and Africa support small and growing enterprises with business and capacity-building support. Its ecosystem programmes focus on policy, financing and collaboration instruments that multiply the social, environmental and economic impacts of entrepreneurship.

For more information, please visit

Contact person: Linde Wolters