The Alchemist PR and TEVA Windows have partnered with Finweek and World Wildlife Fund (WWF) SA to produce the country's first publication of its kind, GreenOvation, as well as the GreenOvation Awards initiative.
Set for release during Sustainability Week - which will be hosted in Johannesburg in the last week of June - GreenOvation is also intended as a tool for attracting investment in the big ideas, the simple yet innovative solutions which need a financial kick-start.
"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.
The critical issue, as in most emerging markets, is the challenge of access to information and education. When mobile phones entered the local market, the campaign to stimulate demand was driven by big marketing budgets. This is not the case with sustainability.
"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.