The Importance of Partnerships in supporting green entrepreneurs


The Just Transition aims to transform the economy in a way that is more socially inclusive and environmentally sustainable. Green Entrepreneurship is an important vehicle in accelerating and achieving such a process. At its core, Green Entrepreneurship aims to establish ventures that create goods and services that are environmentally and socially beneficial to society. It is through the operations that these enterprises engage in that a Just Transition can be achieved. This requires green enterprises that can disrupt and innovate industries through new systems and technologies.

Green Enterprises in Africa

In the context of Africa, which faces various climate change related issues such as food insecurity, pollution, deforestation, water scarcity, diseases and climate migration; green enterprises can offer new solutions to these problems. This is particularly the case with small to medium sized enterprises that constitute the majority of enterprises in Africa. With 90% of businesses in Sub-Saharan Africa being small businesses, green enterprises are more likely to arise from this cohort. With a young population, the continent is well positioned to make use of new opportunities that can leverage the growing green economy.

There are opportunities in various sectors across the continent for green enterprises such as renewable energy, green infrastructure, environmental technology and green finance. According to a 2023 report by the World Metrological Organization (WMO) Africa contributes a fraction towards global emissions and yet is expected to be disproportionately affected by climate change. Green enterprises can act not only as a stopgap to the effects of climate change but can offer regenerative and preventative solutions. These benefits range from having a reskilled workforce that can be better adapt to a new economy, reducing waste & ecological footprint, helping farmers find adaptive ways to produce foods to increase food security and reorganising resources & capital towards sustainable initiatives. These can ensure that economic activities brought on by green enterprises cause as little impact as possible on the environment whilst building a more resilient economy.

Green enterprises however face a number of challenges. With many African countries having economies geared towards fossil fuels and resource extraction, policies and legal frameworks still remain restrictive or behind in supporting green enterprises to the desired capacity. In many instances there is also a skills gap or a lack of human capital for green enterprises to succeed, with more people being suited for an economy that is more fossil fuel orientated. The funding environment to support green enterprises is also not as robust in Africa as it is in wealthier regions of the world, which creates a challenge in accessing the funds needed for the enterprises to flourish. Where funding channels exist, there is also cases of a knowledge gap on how to access funding and what institutions or which organisations to approach.

For these green enterprises to be better equipped to take advantage of the opportunities that can help accelerate the Just Transition, they require adequate support. This not only means governments putting in place the right policies and structures or financers increasing funding, but increased collaboration and initiatives between institutions and groups that can help facilitate the growth of green enterprises.

The Role of Partnerships in Supporting Green Enterprises

Partnerships with organisations and institutions can offer a myriad of opportunities for green enterprises. They allow for greater access to financing, networking opportunities, capacity building, skills training and resource sharing. These foster the type of collaboration that can be sustained beyond upfront funding as they create an ecosystem that offers more support and structures that the enterprises require.

The Green Innovation Hub’s Green Business Incubator Programme

Our Green Innovation Hub (GiH) is an example of an entity that partners with green enterprises, with the platform providing training and support for entrepreneurs with business ventures that are tailored towards Africa transitioning to a low carbon economy. Through the Green Business Incubator Programme our 2023 cohort comprised of enterprises such as eWasteAfrica, a waste management company that focuses on recycling lighting and electronic waste. Due to the difficulty and complexity of managing lighting and electronic waste this enterprise plays an important role in decreasing pollution and the ecological footprint that typically arises from such waste. Earth Feeds is another company our GiH has partnered with, it is biotechnology company that uses insects as an alternative protein source for animal feed. This type of enterprise can help reduce the strain on farming land and lower carbon emissions by ensuring less energy is used to produce animal feed. The two forementioned examples illustrate the type of green enterprises that can be supported and partnered with.

Furthermore, platforms such as GiH offer a great opportunity for Green Entrepreneurship as enterprises looking for growth and potential funding are offered networking and institutional channels; they may have previously had limited access to. This is important in enabling these enterprises to have constant opportunities that can allow them to thrive. In order for the Just Transition to accelerate green enterprises need as much access as possible to development opportunities for them to have the meaningful impact that will be required for achieving the transition.

The GiH continues with its 9 month long Green Business Incubator Programme, which supports green entrepreneurs from across the continent through providing workshops, training and preparing them to become investor ready. We are pleased at the success of the 2023 cohort and will be announcing a call for applications for the 2024 cohort later this month. We value the role of partnerships in supporting green enterprises and recognise the importance that they can contribute towards a Just Transition. We encourage any interested parties and potential partners that wish to collaborate and support the work we do at the GiH to reach out to us.

Author: Kennedy Simango,

Research Analyst