BoP Solutions Set To Advance Food Security In South Africa**

The New Economy Accelerator, the enterprise acceleration programme for base of the pyramid (BoP) solutions, on Thursday introduced its 2015/16 cohort at a cocktail reception in Cape Town. Aimed at enterprises with new economy and inclusive solutions that target or operate at the base of the pyramid, the evening’s theme focused on food security in South Africa.The evening kick-started with brief introductions by NEA convenor, Dr. Mao Amis, he reminded the audience in attendance that ending hunger is Goal 2 of the recently adopted Sustainable Development Goals (SGDs), “…which collectively aim to ensure the long-term well-being of the planet and its people. Solemn promises however, are not enough. These goals must be converted into tangible outcomes on the ground”. Each of the 10 enterprises who form part of the 2015/16 cohort, got an opportunity to introduce themselves and the solution that they are currently implementing. Shortly thereafter, the entrepreneurs were be joined by Leonie Joubert, an award winning science writer and author of The Hungry Season, in dissecting the future of food and what it will take to feed the nation.The 2015/16 NEA cohort boasts companies whose ambitious goals range from mass employment and skills for unemployed youth to recycled construction waste being converted into affordable housing. The future food and food value chain features strongly with a cross section solutions looking at unique urban farming techniques, to innovative mobile food distribution for informal traders, converting illegal dump sites into community gardens, natural fertilizers and organic recycling of food waste. Although the accelerator programme itself is new, the bulk of the entrepreneurs have been operating for longer than 2 years.

Leonie Joubert shared her experiences and insights in researching South Africa’s food sector: “If we want to make sure that our fellow South Africans are well fed and properly nourished, we need to understand that food security isn’t just about making sure our farmers are producing enough calories for all of us. We need to make sure that those calories are wholesome and nutritious. At the moment, the industrial food system tends to take these good calories, given to us by our farmers, and processes much of this food so heavily that it brings energy dense foods to us, but ones that don’t have enough nutrients.

The result is that we get too much energy and not enough goodness from our food. It’s making us heavy and sick, and it means we aren’t food secure”. Joubert went further in suggesting that we subside fresh and whole foods, and tax processed and sugary foods.

In an audience that included government officials and impact investors, the future of food proved to be topical and the evening tremendously success, even trending on social media.

**   This article was originally published

New Economy Accelerator Announces 2015 Cohort of the best BoP start-ups in South Africa

  • NEA announces the 10 startups targeting or operating at the Base of the Pyramid in SA program
  • BoP business acceleration program convened by the African Centre for the Green Economy (Africege) and supported by Stichting Doen (Doen Foundation) and New Economics Foundation (NEF).

Cape Town, 16 September 2015The African Transition To A New Economy (ATTANE), a community of new economy practitioners – citizens who are innovating and finding ways to build bridges and networks to challenge the status quo, to promote an inclusive sustainable development pathway –  has today announced the 10 South African enterprises selected to join its inaugural New Economy Accelerator program.

The finalists, which include enterprise from Gauteng, the Western Cape, Eastern Cape and KZN, have been chosen following a 2-week selection process by new economy experts, including members of the ATTANE community exco and its partners.

All the enterprises are actively trading in the local economy, and are generating annual turnover ranging from R120 000 to R16 million. After receiving a higher than anticipated number of applications, the selection panel considered a variety of factors, namely scalability, new economy fit, employment creation, innovation and investment readiness.

Details of each of the 10 selected enterprises are listed below.

Over the course of the next 9 months, the 10 enterprises will receive expert one-on-one coaching, high-quality skills training workshops and intensive business support, as well as access to finance to grow their businesses. Expert webinars and fireside sessions will also be offered with experts in variety of topics related investment readiness, global expansion, media, government engagement and business development. The program commences in October 2015, and will be led by Dr. Mao Amis and program manager Nikiwe Solomon.

Included in the program will be a business coach, 6-contact sessions in Cape Town, business development support and access to a variety of products and services through the ATTANE community network.

At the end four month business acceleration period, the 10 enterprises will be receiving 2-months of one-on-one coaching and mentorship, followed by 1-month of investor roadshows (including an investor Demo Day). The programme will run from the 1st of October 2015 until 28th of April 2016.

Program convenor, Dr. Mao Amis commented: “These enterprises form the building blocks of an inclusive and prosperous society’’

“The NEA is such an important initiative because it supports radical experimentation…a space to carve out a different way of doing. It creates the space for a different definition of economic activity and does so with practical examples on the ground. People are crying out for actual examples of doing things differently and the activities of the programme participants provide those examples of how to support a flourishing society within planetary limits.” said Michael Weatherhead, New Economy Foundation.

The 2015 NEA Cohorts:

Geza Jozi (Waste and Transport, Gauteng)

Khona Cafe (Digital Inclusion, Western Cape)

Last Mile for BoP (Localized Retail, Western Cape)

Let’s Go Trade (Skills and Mass Employment, Gauteng)

Naturally Good (Eco-friendly Consumer Products, Western Cape)

Sidingulwazi Co-Op (Recycling Co-Op, Gauteng)

Umgibe (Urban/Community Farming, KZN)

Use-It (Sustainable Housing, KZN)

Y-Waste (Upcycling – Food waste, Western Cape)

Zuka (Organic Fertilizer, Eastern Cape)

(*more details and profiles of these enterprises will be released shortly)


Media Queries:

Vuyisa Qabaka              072 354 4630 / 021 713 4390

Dr. Mao Amis                                  NEA Programme Convenor

Nikiwe Solomon                           NEA Programme Manager

About the NEA:

The New Economy Accelerator (NEA) aims to activate local economies in South Africa to build an inclusive and prosperous society. Social and environmental high impact startups serving the low income or BoP sector stand a chance to be a part of the NEA programme that aims to accelerate the growth of such enterprises. The growth and acceleration of grassroots enterprises is critical for addressing the significant challenges of unemployment in South Africa. The concept of a ‘New Economy’ is anchored around creating local solutions to address local problems. In this regard new economy entrepreneurs recognise their mission is to serve their local communities, to create job opportunities, upskill their community, and use natural resources sustainably.

Dr Mao Amis, talking about the linkages between health and agriculture productivity in Africa.

New Economy Accelerator – Applications close tomorrow- (27th AUG 2015)

The New Economy Accelerator (NEA) aims to activate local economies in South Africa to build an inclusive and prosperous society. Social and environmental high impact startups serving the low income or BoP sector stand a chance to be a part of the NEA programme that aims to accelerate the growth of such enterprises. The programme will run from the 1st of October 2015 until 28th of April 2016.

NEA programme candidates can expect to take part in a specially designed workshop for skills development, to receive intensive business support, one-on-one coaching, access to national and international New Economy networks, access to finance to grow their business as well as training in New Economy Principles.

The growth and acceleration of grassroots enterprises is critical for addressing the significant challenges of unemployment in South Africa. The concept of a ‘New Economy’ is anchored around creating local solutions to address local problems. In this regard New Economy entrepreneurs recognise their mission is to serve their local communities, to create job opportunities, upskill their community, and use natural resources sustainably.

The NEA programme is seeking applications from innovative startups in the sectors of agriculture,, financial and economic inclusion, retail, tech and digital inclusion, renewable energy and waste management.


“Our mission is to catalyse this new economy so that it can create new opportunities, through the cultivation of relationships, experimenting and changing the realities faced by local communities. We aim to achieve this through an accelerated programme that champions sustainable growth, encourages collaboration, advances community, facilitates dialogues, drives scale and rewards global innovation.” – programme convenor, Dr. Mao Amis

Details about the New Economy and the NEA programme are available at

The deadline for applications is Thursday the 27th of August 2015.

Applications can be filled in online at the NEA website or the application form can be requested from Nikiwe  at or

For further enquiries please contact:

Nikiwe Solomon, e-mail or

Tel: 021 713 4390 | 072  314 0114

About the New Economy Accelerator

NEA is a platform for nurturing the emergence of a new economy, one that challenges the status quo to build a more inclusive and sustainable economy. By building networks, innovating and promoting investments, together we can realise a new economy. An economy that maximises human well-being, and is capable of coping with and adapting to global environmental change.

Our mission is to catalyse this new economy so that it can create new opportunities, through the cultivation of relationships, experimenting and changing the current narrative. To do so we are a platform where actors connect, a community of practices grows and emerging solutions spread. We share stories of innovations on the ground, change the economic narrative and build a critical mass of changemakers.

NEA is coordinated by AfriCGE as the African partner of a global movement for the new economy. One of our collective goals is to support 50 new economy initiatives over the coming 3 years. Find out how we plan to do this.

The NEA initiative is born at a time when the fastest growing economies are located in Africa, and where foreign investor sentiments are very optimistic. It’s therefore an opportune time for Africa to set itself on a development trajectory that will ultimately address the root causes of poverty, conflict and inequality.

We don’t know what an alternative development pathway looks like, but we do know that there are practices on the ground that are bravely charting new courses. And people with great ideas who would like to share their stories and experiences in the hope that such innovative thinking and doing might gain traction and become mainstream.

The goal of NEA is to be an agent of change, a community where stories are heard, ideas are nurtured and action is stimulated.

Africa rising and the new economy

One of the key highlights of US President Barack Obama’s visit to Kenya last week, was the spotlight it placed on the importance of entrepreneurship, whilst co-hosting the Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES). The occasion drew some of the world’s most high profile investors and budding entrepreneurs from the continent.This is a clear recognition of the investment opportunities the continent presents. The key challenge is whether we can harness the increased spotlight on Africa to create truly meaningful opportunities that promote inclusive and sustainable growth.

Many of you have probably heard (a few weeks ago) that the IMF acknowledged that “trickle down” economics doesn’t work after all. This is an indictment of the current economic system that focuses on hoarding assets over sharing; individual wealth over community well-being; and competition instead of collaboration.

The majority of the world needs a new economy, one that challenges this notion of growth at all cost, and advances an approach that places the well-being of people and the planet at the centre of economic development. This approach also redefines the determinants of success, allows for the creation of alternatives, and decentralizes the economy. In a decentralized economy businesses are created to address the specific needs of a community rather than the one size fits all models. It also creates opportunities for entrepreneurship, fosters co-creation and the sharing of resources for the common good.

Africa has its own unique challenges and therefore the notion of the “new economy” presents an excellent opportunity to address some of the systemic challenges the continent faces.

AfriCGE will be launching the New Economy Accelerator (NEA) on Thursday 6 August 2015 at the Centre for the Book, 62 Queen Victoria St, Cape Town at 17h30. Places are limited, so RSVP (  here and secure your spot to this new and exciting launch event promoting inclusive business practice in South Africa.

Launch of Africa Climate Smart Agriculture (ACSAA) Forum

The vulnerability of Africa to climate change and it’s interlinkages to poverty and food in-security are well documented. Africa’s growing population and a declining agricultural productivity, presents a major challenge to the continent’s development propects. There is a need to develop strategies that can support sustainable increase in agricultural productivity to generate wealth and build food security, without negatively impacting the environment.

Over the years various approaches such as conservation agriculture, have been proposed for improving agricultural productvity and building resilience against climate change. The most recent approach, that is receving significant traction is climate smart agriculture (CSA).

CSA has become an important approach for achieving the three dimensions of sustainable development, by increasing agricultural productivity, building resilience to climate change and mitigate greenhouse gases

To this end, the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) with mandate from African heads of States, has launched the the Africa Climate Smart Agriculture Alliance (ACSAA), as a multi-stakeholder plfotor_fotoratform for championing CSA on the continent. The aim of ACSAA is to assist 25million farmers to adopt CSA approaches by 2025.

AfriCGE and it’s partner organisation, Shared Value Africa (SVA), are honoured to be playing a leading role in driving the establishment of ACSAA, by helping NEPAD to develop an investment framework and a funding mechanism for the Alliance.

On 13th May the Africa Climate Smart Agriculture (CSA) Forum was launched in Addis Ababa, and our Executive Director Dr. Mao Amis, and the co-Founder of SVA Dr John Fay, were invited to lead a discussion on financing mechanisms for climate smart agriculture in Africa. Their presentation was well received by delegates from various sectors in Africa, including government, civil society and the private sector. Lack of capacity in accessing global finance for climate smart agriculture, was identified as one of the major gaps in promoting CSA. This is therefore going to be a focus theme where AfriCGE and its network members are going to play a leading role, to ensure that African governments are well capacitated to tap the opportunities in the climate finance space.

To find out more contact us on:

+27 (0)21 713 4390

Green growth in the Lake Victoria River Basin

On 13th October 2014, Africege delivered a keynote presentation on implementing green growth approaches in Mt Elgon ecosystem, Lake Victoria river basin. This meeting which was organised by the Lake Victoria River Basin Commission (LVRB), brought together key stakeholders both from Kenya and Uganda and included government officials, private sector and farmers.

Lake Victoria is the largest freshwater lake in Africa, and one of the most important catchments in Africa, supporting a population of more that 30 million. As a result the economies of many countries in the region is anchored around the productivity of the lake. Pollution is also an issue of major concern for the lake, primary from untreated sewage, industrial waste and fertiliser. Due to the declining environmental conditions, fisheries has also been in decline over the last couple of years, which is quite significant because the sector employs close to 2 million people in the basin.

Numerous factors have contributed to the declining conditions of Lake Victoria, including unsustainable practices in the broader catchments and rivers that feed the Lake. One of the the most important ecosystems in the basin is the Mt Elgon region, which straddles the borders of Kenya and Uganda, and is the source of many feeder rivers into the Lake. Due to increasing population, encroachment in the mountain forest has caused soil erosion leading to landslides, decreased water quality and loss of productivity to downstream users.

The LVRB and it’s stakeholders are exploring ways of how to attract investments into Mt Elgon ecosystem, to ensure that this key ecosystems is protected, but at the same time create opportunities for those communities that are directly dependent on it.

AFRICEGE was delighted in getting involved to share our vast experience in promoting a sustainable and inclusive transition to a green economy. This workshop, which turned out to be very successful provided us with the opportunity to share lessons on green economy implementation in Eastern and Southern Africa. These kinds of engagements are directly aligned with our vision of promoting both an intra-Africa and south-south cooperation in setting the agenda for the transition to  green economy.


Africege authors report on climate change adaptation in Southern Africa

On the 1st of October 2014, a report by AFRICEGE on climate change adaptation in southern Africa was launched by His Royal Highness, Prince Seeiso Bereng Seeiso of the Kingdom of Lesotho. The launch too place during the 2014 FANRPAN Annual High Level Food and Nutrition Security Multi-stakeholder Dialogue which was held from the 29th of September 2014 to the 2nd of October 2014 in Antananarivo, Madagascar. The FANRPAN Regional Dialogue was attended by more than 200 delegates who include senior officials of national governments, representatives of regional economic organizations, development partners, network partners, and country nodes representing farmers’ organizations, agri-business, development partner agencies and parliamentarians.

The report can be accessed here.

Inclusive green economy requires bottom-up approach

THE risk of climate change is all around us and it is quite apparent that the most vulnerable in society are bearing the brunt of this risk. Whether you speak to smallholder farmers in the rolling slopes of the Rwenzori mountains in Uganda, where rainfall has dropped by more than 20% or you speak to a township dweller in the outskirts of Cape Town, whose shack has been razed by a recent fire, the story is the same. Severe change in weather patterns is rapidly eroding their livelihoods and there are hardly enough social safety nets to help them cope.

Building an inclusive green economy lies at the centre of finding solutions that help build social and ecological resilience, but also provide an opportunity for such groups to partake in identifying the solutions that works best for their local context. To achieve an inclusive green economy therefore requires a bottom-up approach to encourage meaningful participation in the process, backed by strong policy signals from the top.

Unfortunately, there is no evidence to show that this is the approach that is being undertaken in operationalising the green economy in many developing countries. Most of the discourse is still taking place at the macro-economic level and characterised by interventions at that level, whose effect on the most vulnerable people on the ground or pressing ecological crisis are limited at least in the short- to medium term.

For example, the obsession with “mega-projects”, whilst important for achieving change at a large scale, mirrors the same approaches used in the traditional economic system that led us into the climate crisis in the first place. Prestigious schemes such as the Grand Inga dam in the Democratic Republic of Congo, or the large scale procurement of renewal energy in South Africa, are all fraught with challenges, that if not well managed might negate the very purpose for which they were conceived — energy access.

The real opportunity of creating meaningful change is through activating local economies, to enable those at the frontline of climate risk to defend themselves. This is because most of the climate-related risks inevitably translate into social problems or a local ecological crisis that need to be addressed at that level. Most importantly those who are faced by the prevalent risks must be at the forefront of devising solutions that are sustainable, through green entrepreneurship for example.

Green entrepreneurship, which is a term used to describe entrepreneurial activities that focus on ecological outcomes, plays an important role in addressing social and economic challenges that are associated with climate change. One would expect that due to the well-documented effects of climate change at the local level in South Africa, there would be a hive of green entrepreneurial activities at the local level that seek to turn climate risks into opportunities. Sadly this seems not to be the case, where in many cases environmental issues are still regarded as peripheral and lack well-established support structures in terms of business incubation and finance for small- and micro enterprises.

By their very nature many green entrepreneurial activities do not lend themselves to the traditional business models that mostly focus on profitability, growth and an understanding of a readily available market. Green entrepreneurs in many instances focus on emerging business principles that promote new forms of ownership, distribution and exchange of goods and services. As a result the odds are stuck against such ventures, and they do not often find the support required to make a significant difference.

For example, a very brief analysis of business incubators in South Africa, shows that most of the support to small enterprises is for high growth sectors, such as technology, manufacturing and the retail sector. Even though some of these ventures are social enterprises, the majority still do not embrace green economy principles. There is a need therefore to explicitly support enterprises that promote green entrepreneurship, especially for a country such as South Africa, projected be highly affected by climate change.

This is the gap that the African Centre for a Green Economy is seeking to fill through its innovation hub that is being established in partnership with DOEN foundation, the Green Economy Coalition and the New Economics Foundation. Over the next two years, the initiative will develop, support and accelerate promising green enterprises that promote local participation in building an inclusive green economy in South Africa.

An earlier version of this article was posted on the Business Day Live website, available here