Minister of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment, Ms Barbara Creecy, ceremony – Driving Force for Change II Challenge
Dr Bernd Mueller– International Labour Organisation Officer in Charge for Eastern and Southern Africa,
Ms Gugu McLaren - National Business Initiative
Ms Navina Sanchez - German Technical Agency, Pretoria
Mr Netshisaulu - Department of Employment and Labour
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Let me start by congratulating our 16 finalists and thanking our partners for making this second edition of our Driving Force for Change Challenge a reality. It is indeed an exciting day when we can once again recognise innovative solutions to come of our pressing environmental and sustainable development challenges.
On 16 June 2020, my department in partnership with a number of stakeholders launched a call for the Driving Force for Change Youth Pilot Initiative. The pilot project invited applications from youth entrepreneurs committed to implementing sustainability principles to their business models.
Thirteen youth entrepreneurs, five of whom were women, were provided with a financial incentive and business acumen skills training to support them in developing their respective business ventures.
These start -ups had a range of focus areas including monitoring municipal water quality, focusing on waste management, and conservation and ecosystem services.
One exciting beneficiary of our pilot project was Lotic Links, now a registered Non-Profit Organisation, that works with communities living along river ecosystems to brings about socio-economic change.
Another beneficiary of the first programme was Regenize which focusses on incentivising recycling. By setting up recycling hubs in Cape Town, this programme is incentivising and integrating waste reclaimers on a sustainable basis into recycling enterprises.
These are just two examples of youth- led initiatives that have had doors of opportunity opened to them through being part of the Driving Force for Change initiative.
Following the positive response to the pilot programme, the International Labour Organization as the Implementing Agency for Partnership for Action on the Green Economy (PAGE) – South Africa, the Departments of Employment and Labour, of Science and Innovation, of Trade, Industry and Competition, the National Cleaner Production Centre, the German Technical Agency (GIZ) and the National Business Initiative partnered with the Department to launch the Driving Force for Change Youth Challenge ll, on 09 August 2021.
Central to the approach guiding the Driving Force for Change is an understanding that climate change, biodiversity loss and environmental pollution are putting th future sustainability of our planet in jeopardy.
The programme aims to identify constructive solutions to what are otherwise overwhelming and existential problems. Green and circular economy approaches are recognised as global best practice, and are being integrated into climate change mitigation and adaptation strategies around the world.
Government’s partnership with the Youth for Change Initiative is an example of how we can build social and economic resilience. We recognise that young people, as the future custodians of our planet, are in a unique position to lead the search for sustainable sustainable solutions.
In this regard we are mindful that by supporting youth entrepreneurs in the green economy space we are also opening up the possibility for them to participate in relevant areas of the Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan and recent developments in the renewable energy sector.
The Driving Force for Change ll made a call for beneficiaries in the following categories: Circular economy, Manufacturing, Innovation, Eco-system services, Agriculture, Eco-tourism and Best Woman Entrepreneur in Green Business Enterpris
Today, we take time out to acknowledge and celebrate the 16 beneficiaries and their respective green business initiatives.
In addition we acknowledge that our department together with our partners also developed and presented an online course to provide youth entrepreneurs/SMMEs with access to introductory aspects of green business development. So far thirty five participants have completed the course and will now be in a position to develop their respective business ideas so that they can apply for other government support programmes.
Emanating from this training intervention, today, we are also launching the Green Business Guideline for SMMEs, Start-ups and Entrepreneurs. The guideline aims to assist young entrepreneurs, SMMEs and start-ups to take advantage of green business opportunities by focussing on areas such as business sustainability, resource efficiency and cleaner production, life cycle management, as well as providing templates for the development of business plans.
It remains our responsibility to provide our youth with as much support to turn ideas into reality and to create a conducive environment wherein green and sustainable business ventures may contribute in driving our country’s economy forward. Let us continue to support and motivate our youth to do more and achieve more.
The sixteen winners we celebrate today have already commenced with one-on-one mentoring sessions and engagements. I would urge each beneficiary to take this opportunity wholly, ask those difficult questions from your respective assigned mentors and gain as much knowledge as possible, from the support being provided.
Because we are now in Women’s Month, let me make special mention of our Women-led enterprises. Two beneficiaries within the category of circular economy and one beneficiary within the category of Ecosystem services, are lead by women.
In the dedicated category for Best Woman Entrepreneur, we recognise and celebrate two strong females – driving and leading their respective businesses. Malibongwe!
I want to encourage other young women entrepreneurs to take up green business opportunities being made available through similar initiatives in the future. The trend from the first two calls for proposals clearly shows there is indeed an appetite for such initiatives among women, although fewer women than men applied in both rounds of the Initiative.
In closing, congratulations once again to all the winning proposals, may this be the beginning of an exciting period of learning and growth for your respective projects, as well as yourselves as individuals. I wish to congratulate you on your achievements to date and for being brave enough to take on the call. Continue to be leaders in your communities.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of our partners in supporting the Department with this venture. Your commitment to the Driving Force for Change II Youth Challenge, is highly appreciated.
I thank you.