green business
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GreenCape and the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom have launched a green business directory aimed at South African businesses.

The South African sector development agency, GreenCape, and the German Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom have built on a one-stop digital water hub they started in 2019 in response to the drought conditions dominating life in the Western Cape.

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Cecelia Kok, head of research and advocacy at the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom, says they have created the green business directory as a hub for business development services to list themselves. “They will increase their visibility. It’s easy, it’s open source, it’s really accessible. This is where entrepreneurs and innovators and SMMEs can look for opportunities,” she explained.

The directory is aimed at two sides of the business. It is a platform for business development services (such as support consultants, trainers or financiers) to publicise support services, programmes and opportunities available to South African green business entrepreneurs. At the same time, it is also a resource that green business entrepreneurs can use to access sector-relevant support services which could help them to leverage opportunities for business growth and entry into commercial, industrial, residential and municipal markets. It can link innovators and entrepreneurs to the kind of support they need to accelerate their green and market-driven products and solutions.

While this directory is a first for South Africa, Kok says she knows of a similar project in the EU. The Foundation believes the move to digital databases of this kind is not just because of increased access to web services in South Africa, but has been accelerated by the pandemic induced lockdowns.

Using small distributed green business to achieve economic growth

“South Africa and its economy are in serious trouble and this sort of dire state of affairs has been exacerbated by the pandemic. Now is the time to unleash the power of the green economy, to help propel South Africa into a sustainable job-intensive and market-driven future. I think the point we make – we cannot afford to go on as we have. It is high time for a green transition that will enable South Africa and its people to advance,” says Kok.

Kok points out the International Labour Organisation’s research says around 70% of global employment is through small to medium enterprises. “In South Africa, we have not fully exploited that potential.” She says South Africa’s attractiveness as an investment destination is hampered by our constrained energy capacity. “At the heart of a functioning and thriving economy is, amongst other things, energy security. Because we don’t have that in South Africa we cannot grow our economy and there aren’t as many jobs as there might otherwise be. We need to create an environment that is conducive to investment.”

“What we need is more investment to come to South Africa and more companies to start up, for it to become easier to hire people, and we need to increase the opportunities for upskilling. In particular, we need to see the obstacles in the way of the unleashing of green power, decentralised power, we need to see those go. That will be a major sector of growth and opportunity for South Africans who are trapped in poverty and currently see no opportunities.”

Businesses that would like to list their support services can do so online at the greendirectory.