United NationsDepartment of Economic and Social Affairs Sustainable Development

Simuka Phakama - Green enterPRIZE Innovation Challenge - a platform for green enterprise innovation & development particularly for youth and women to drive the creation of green & decent jobs.

United Nations / Multilateral body

    The Innovation Challenge is being implemented in collaboration with local business development service (BDS) providers to offer financial & non-financial support to green and growth-oriented small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), as part of the Green enterPRIZE Innovation and Development Programme, supported by the Government of Sweden. Over the years, it has become a multi-stakeholder platform for green enterprise innovation and development empowering entrepreneurs, particularly women & youth, to drive the creation of green & decent jobs. Emerging & established SMEs have expanded their green products & services and tested new business models by accessing tailored BDS.

    Implementation of the Project/Activity

    Following the launch of a country-wide “Innovation Challenge” through the involvement of national and provincial level authorities, the project supported the submission of business plans through a dedicated online platform. The project Implementing Partners supported the application process through off-line help-desks located in different provinces, in order to overcome the digital divide and maintain an inclusive approach. Continuous screening of applications contributed to ensure quality while achieving the quantity targets. A maximum of 250 finalists per round of competitions were invited to join tailored training sessions to improve their business plans and prepare a convincing presentation to a panel of independent judges. Besides the adjudication of prizes to winners, the business competition has resulted in a comprehensive mapping of more than 500 SMEs in Zimbabwe that have an interest to tap into green economy opportunities. This community is now connected to an established network of BDS and financial service providers that have embedded green business development, as part of their portfolio. Winners have benefited from tailored financial services and business-to-business linkages through support for 12-months. Non-winners have been exposed to training opportunities and form part of a resourceful network that can continue to support the creation of green jobs & the piloting of green business models beyond the duration of the project. The most innovative and growth-oriented enterprises have been linked to a network of private investors to explore the scalability of the business models. Direct access to entrepreneurs has also informed the development of curricula for a green economy, particularly in the renewable energy and climate-smart agriculture sectors.


    796 SMEs submissions received, monitored, capacitated & connected, out of which, 439 considered eligible for dedicated capacity development activities. 83 winners & runners up (42% female; 32% rural based & 11% entrepreneurs with disability) have accessed financial & non-financial BDS with +463 direct jobs created; 632 (45%, female) non-winners accessed face to face (prior Corona virus pandemic lock-down measures), online and radio-based training services (during the lockdown period). A network of private BDS providers consolidated and trained on how to foster green growth & now in charge of delivering high-quality BDS through a decentralized system, which contributes to the quality assurance & coaching provided by the main implementing partner; Fine Touch Development Trust. Long-term impact and SDGs contribution; Promotion of green business included in the Zimbabwean MSMEs Policy (SDG8, SDG5, SDG7, SDG9); Tripartite partners actively engaged in national green economy discussion, through various policy-making processes (SDG8, SDG5); Green entrepreneurship curriculum rolled out through the involvement of TVET institutions (SDG4)

    Enabling factors and constraints

    The adaptation of the Improve Your Business (IYB) training provided a solid foundation to support more SMEs. A specific focus on women entrepreneurship & employment creation for people with disabilities and disadvantaged groups has unlocked new capacity development opportunities at an affordable cost for the project. The involvement of mentors covering a broad spectrum of technical expertise and capacities has resulted in the comprehensive provision of BDS for green growth, including legal, business, environmental and financial aspects despite the volatile socio-economic situation and COVID-19 pandemic which further worsened the plight of SMEs.

    Sustainability and replicability

    BDS providers have been trained extensively on green economy topics and they can now embed green entrepreneurship and green business development training and advisory services, as part of their BDS provision. Hundreds of SMEs attached to the project have been exposed to capacity building services and they currently network among themselves to create business linkages and explore small value chain development opportunities. This powerful platform of like-minded business people can become an engine for green jobs promotion. The ILO has been encouraging mentors and BDS providers to formalise their networked community, in order to maintain the SMEs platform beyond the duration of the project and continue their advocacy and training efforts for a green economy in Zimbabwe. The participation of businesses in the TVET curriculum development process is expected to increase the employability of students in green economy activities. The green business competition model has already been replicated in Tanzania and the supply-demand approach has inspired the design of similar interventions in Southern Africa.

    Other sources of information

    https://greenenterprize.org/2018/05/17/first-innovation-challenge-award… https://greenenterprize.org/2019/09/05/simuka-phakama-join-our-2019-inn… https://greenenterprize.org/2020/07/27/the-impact-of-covid-19-on-busine… https://greenenterprize.org/2019/07/10/cloth-diapers-save-money-and-the… https://greenenterprize.org/2019/05/16/meet-the-entrepreneurs-working-t… https://greenenterprize.org/2021/01/21/turning-the-volume-up-on-zimbabw… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UkGlv6zESC8 PHOTO DESCRIPTIONS (note: descriptions included here as the photo section does not allow text) Picture One Description ILO Simuka-Phakama Green enterPRIZE Innovation Challenge Awards Ceremony Elizabeth Nyamuda won first prize in the “Best Green Business (Manufacturing or Service)” category. She is the founder of Tamba Washables, a small business that manufactures cloth diapers and related products, such as sanitary and breast pads. Everything is handmade. “When you use cloth diapers, not only are you saving the environment by reducing waste in our landfills and the number of trees cut down to make single-use diapers,” Nyamuda said. “You are also saving financially.” Photo Credit – ILO-HRE (KB Mpofu) Picture Two Description “We can contribute, no matter how small” Piwai Chikasha and Takudzwa Chipadza are engineers by training, development professionals at hear. Piwai Chikasha and Takudzwa Chipadza, Alley Capital Group First prize, Best young entrepreneurs Photo Credit –ILO-HRE (KB Mpofu) Picture Three Description Simuka-Phakama, a business competition that support for green and growth oriented SMEs with a special category of Best Entrepreneurs with Disability- Green enterPRIZE Brochure. Nine out of 78 winners and runners up are entrepreneurs with disability who successfully received financial and non-financial business development services to grow their business. Photo Credit – ILO-HRE (C-Media)

    COVID-19 Impact

    As part of the training delivery adaptation to face the challenges posed by COVID-19 lockdown, the project designed the Generate Your Business Idea (GYB) training delivered through 30-minute weekly radio sessions. Its adaptation enabled 461 potential green entrepreneurs (47%, female & 57%, rural-based) to establish if they are the right person to start a business & to develop a feasible business idea. Participants also participated in once-a-week WhatsApp group discussions moderated by a trainer & completed exercises in the GYB workbook. The project has invested in the development of new training materials, which respond to the COVID-19 pandemic challenges, in particular, a series of “how-to” guides on business formalization, Occupational Safety & Health & greening business options.

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    This initiative does not yet fulfil the SMART criteria.
    16 October 2018 (start date)
    15 June 2021 (date of completion)
    International Labour Organization
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    Other beneficiaries

    Beneficiaries - Young women & men & entrepreneurs with disabilities, who run SMEs with potential for green growth. Stakeholders - Government, Employers & Workers Organizations. Effective delivery relied on the participation of BDS providers with extensive experience in assisting enterprises in Zimbabwe and Southern Africa. Partnerships - Virl Financial Services; Zimbabwe Agriculture Development Trust & the Private Financing Advisory Network.

    Contact Information