Innovative entrepreneurs key to kick-start a green Zimbabwe

28 green-oriented businesses, with potential to grow, are contributing to the creation of green jobs and addressing global environmental challenges

News | 08 April 2019
Contact(s): ILO Harare Office Tel +2634369806-12 Email:
Best Young EntrepreneurBest Young EntrepreneurE) Small and medium-sized enterprises are key in promoting a green economy. This was witnessed at the recently held Simuka-Phakama Green enterPRIZE Innovation Challenge Awards Ceremony. Supported by the Swedish Government, the event was hosted by the ILO, in collaboration with the Government of Zimbabwe, the Employers Conference of Zimbabwe (EMCOZ) and the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU). The event was the culmination of a six-month competition to award the best green business value propositions submitted by Zimbabwean SMEs across different economic sectors. The goal is to enhance them in their contribution to the creation of green jobs, important for sustainable development but also responding to the global challenges of environmental protection, economic development and social inclusion.

The day before the Awards Ceremony, 56 of the shortlisted finalists from over 250 submissions had the opportunity to pitch their innovations to a panel of expert judges drawn from various areas of expertise, including enterprise development, youth and women empowerment, climate change, renewable energy and agriculture.

All the finalists at the award ceremony

Getting to this final stage of pitching a business idea alone was a huge milestone for most of the finalists, including those who did not receive awards. They described the pitching process as a life time experience, which will benefit their businesses in future as the preparation process provided an opportunity to acquire business and communication skills.

To guide the adjudication, the judges were looking at six criterion as outlined in the objectives of the Simuka-Phakama Innovation Challenge:
  • the job creation potential of the business,
  • what market opportunities it was addressing,
  • it’s commercial sustainability,
  • innovative solutions for environmental challenges,
  • demonstrable skills and
  • practical capacity to run a green business.
One of the winning green businesses with the potential of transforming the economy, whilst reducing uncontrolled waste dumping is into the manufacturing of re-usable cloth diapers and related products in Harare. Dumping of used diapers has become an eye-sore and an environmental hazard because their production process involves massive cutting of trees; whilst their disposal is contributing to land pollution and uncontrolled build-up of solid waste materials.

Another business that caught the judges’ attention is an urban farm in Bulawayo, which diverts agricultural waste from being disposed by burning, to being transformed into manure for pesticide-free oyster mushrooms cultivation –
“turning waste into food then into wealth”.

This green business is promoting sustainable mushroom production, as well as the creation of green jobs along the mushroom production and food processing value chain, by training growers and by introducing healthier meals in local restaurants.

The Innovation Challenge also had a Best Young Entrepreneur Award, which encouraged the participation of young entrepreneurs in green and growth oriented sectors. The businesses from this category ranged from the use of innovation applied to the production of autonomous solar-powered robotics drone systems for crop spraying and protection, to an environmental toilet bio-cleaner contributing to better sanitation and health education; and to the production of domestic footwear using disused tyres, conveyor belts and scrap materials.


Best Young Entrepreneur

These are just some of many ideas submitted by local entrepreneurs from across the country. The long term objective of the Simuka-Phakama Innovation Challenge is to create a platform for green enterprise innovation and development to ensure Zimbabwe thrives by empowering citizens and businesses to strive for the creation of green and decent jobs.

The prizes for the 28 winners include technical and financial support to eco-innovation, as well as access to business development services that enables the entrepreneurs to gain the skills and knowledge to run their business more effectively.

See our photo slideshow here