Green enterPRIZE Innovation & Development in Zimbabwe

The proposed project seeks to contribute to solving a series of inter-related development problems, such as high levels of youth employment, low levels of formal and growth oriented entrepreneurship and unsustainable production processes of SMEs in Zimbabwe. The causes of these problems stem from, among other things, historical gender inequality where women, and especially young women, do not have access to equal technical skills and entrepreneurship development opportunities. In addition, the current education system does not produce work ready graduates and neither graduates with entrepreneurial skills and competencies, which results in both young men and women struggling to find employment as well as struggling to start their own businesses.

In addition, an inadequate legal and regulatory green economy framework means that enterprises, first of all, lack incentives to move towards sustainable operations and, secondly, lack awareness about opportunities in the green economy wherefore many firms continue to source unsustainable inputs and continue to pollute water and air. Finally, a stagnant economy with very low levels of economic activity has led to virtual de-industrialization with many larger enterprises folding resulting in growth of informal SMEs as those laid off seek alternative means for a living. In summary, the labour market currently does not create enough formal employment and green jobs opportunities.

Against this background, the proposed project seeks to support to green and growth oriented male and female owned small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) stimulate the market for green products and services through expansion of access to skills for green jobs and through the greening of existing enterprises. The ultimate goal is the creation of green and decent jobs for women and men, and especially young women and men, through sustainable enterprises. The concept of the green economy and green growth remain relatively new to Zimbabwean entrepreneurs, as well as to the general public. The prevailing macroeconomic challenges with low levels of economic growth and outright deindustrialisation with subsequent high levels of informalisation are major hindrances for a transition to a productive and green economy. The “sustainable and inclusive growth, productivity and jobs” equation is what all governments are trying to solve in an era of climate change and ecological overshoot with over-exploitation of the Earth’s natural resources.