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Twenty social enterprises tackling sustainability in the developing world

Can business save the world? Those who answer “Yes” don’t just include industry trade groups and chambers of commerce: the SEED Initiative, a joint project of the United Nations’ Environmental Programme and Development Programme, along with the International Union for Conservation of Nature, “identifies, profiles and supports promising, locally-driven, start-up enterprises” in the developing world that are focused on alleviating poverty and managing natural resources more sustainably.

On May 12, SEED announced the winners of its Awards for Entrepreneurship in Sustainable Development. These twenty social enterprises will receive “a package of individually-tailored capacity development,” including “access to relevant expertise and technical assistance, building new relationships and networks, developing business plans and identifying sources of finance.” The winners include

  • Planting Empowerment: Founded in 2006, PE creates opportunities for Panamanian peasant farmers to profit from sustainable management of timber plantations.
  • Solar Aid: This organization’s “Sunny Money” program “recruits, trains and supports a growing network of solar entrepreneurs in East Africa, especially deaf and disabled people, helping them build and sell solar kits to power lights, radios and mobile phones.”
  • Plant a Tree Today: PATT’s winning program “aims to encourage, support and enhance community-based indigenous forestry through carbon credit trading to enable successful climate change adaptation and socioeconomic development for local communities and biodiversity conservation” in Thailand.


You can find a complete list of SEED award winners at the Iniative’s web site.

Image: Planting Empowerment workers in Nuevo Pareiso, Panama. Image credit: Planting Empowerment on Picasa