“We are looking for companies and individuals who have either funded or developed sustainable solutions which offer direct benefit to the local community, enhances access to clean running water, or energy-efficient innovation to participate in the publication to be nominated for awards,” says Diane Naidoo-Ngcese, MD of The Alchemist PR.
Categories for entry as well as editorial submission include innovation in:
- Transport and logistics
- Education and youth development
- Architecture and construction
- Design and production – advertising and print houses
“Sustainability is often wrongly perceived as a white middle class issue when in reality, the consequences of not going green has a dire impact on the working class. The cost of electricity, the access to clean running water, the overall improvement in the quality of life makes sustainability a non-negotiable if South Africa is to truly offer a better life for all,” comments Naidoo-Ngcese.
Financing options available
Funding institutions such as the Industrial Development Corporation, Development Bank of South Africa are among a host of financing options available for green initiatives. The SA Green Fund alone has a budget of R800m for projects to assist South Africa’s transition to a low carbon economy.
But the innovators and game-changers in this space are either unaware of the funding options or do not have the capacity to create the exposure required to attract the attention of investors. “Green good news stories and projects undertaken through CSI programmes are relegated to internal newsletters, annual reports or corporate presentations, and young entrepreneurs ideas remain ideas. And yet the green economy would be fast-tracked if these ideas were transitioned to a profitable business model that creates jobs and bolster the local economy,” Naidoo-Ngcese says.
“When I started my business nine years ago, consumers did not quite understand what energy-efficient windows and doors were, how they worked or the financial benefits these products represent hold. If the movement for sustainability had access to ad-spend of big global brands, we would see greater community buy-in,” managing director of TEVA Windows, Pieter Malherbe, says.
He says GreenOvation is one small step in ensuring sustainability becomes a mainstream issue which garners mass support, as communities, business and as government. He also believes that if the private sector throws their weight behind this initiative, it will also assist young aspirant entrepreneurs like him to ‘connect the dots between innovation, enterprise development, job creation and the development of the green economy’.
WWF SA has come on board as editorial advisors for the publication, with Saliem Fakir, head of the Living Planet Unit at WWF, to serve on the awards judging panel along with Miss Earth 2004, Catherine Constantinides.
The Innovation Hub yesterday opened its Climate Innovation Centre (CIC), in partnership with the World Bank’s InfoDev programme for supporting entrepreneurs.
The CIC is a strategic green economy initiative founded through collaboration between the Gauteng Department of Economic Development, The Innovation Hub and InfoDev.
The centre will facilitate the development of technologies to reduce the environmental impact of the South African economy, said McLean Sibanda, CEO of The Innovation Hub.
It will provide environment-focused entrepreneurs with the resources they need, such as financing, technical and business advisory and information services, and facilities such as office space and connections with laboratories, Sibanda explained.
The CIC will form part of a network of locally-owned climate innovation centres in seven countries, including Ethiopia, Kenya, Morocco and Vietnam.
In linking the CICs together, their benefit increases “many folds”, as countries can exchange information and link their markets, said Jonathan Cooney, programme director of InfoDev’s Climate Technology Programme.
While climate change is a tremendous threat to countries around the world, it also represents tremendous opportunities for the development of new markets and technologies, said Cooney.
The Climate Technology Programme is designed to help developing and middle-income countries proactively pursue new technologies and the market opportunities they present, rather than wait for technologies to be transferred to them from more developed economies, Cooney explained.
He added that each country focuses on different solutions depending on their particular needs and context.
“To go to a country and say ‘these are the technologies you need’ is not the right approach. The people who know how best to solve the problems of a country are from that country,” he said.
In SA, the most pressing environmental concerns are energy, water and waste management, said Sibanda.
“One cannot start to talk about modernising the economy without looking at issues of energy and water.” SA needs to develop environmentally-minded technologies to meet the economy’s increasing energy demands, he noted, adding that converting the byproducts of waste into energy is an avenue worth consideration.
The centre will also focus on improving the quality of life in Gauteng’s townships by pursuing energy and waste management solutions in these areas, said Sibanda.
The CIC hosts its inaugural conference at The Innovation Hub in Pretoria this week.
Source: IT Web
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