“The difference between rich and poor is not wealth but opportunity. The poor are the world’s greatest entrepreneurs. Each day they must innovate in order to survive.”
Professor Muhammad Yunus
Zero Plastic Waste Cities
Targeting the issue of global plastic waste leakage, Yunus Environment Hub has developed a modular social business approach. Through the development of local social businesses, municipal waste management systems in developing countries highly affected by plastic waste leakage are strengthened. Run by teams of local entrepreneurs and staff, all social businesses founded during the course of the program increase the amount of locally collected and recycled plastic waste while providing income opportunities to informal waste pickers and improving local livelihoods.
On behalf of the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Nuclear Safety and Consumer Protection (BMUV), Yunus Environment Hub implements “SINA – Soziale Innovationen für Nachhaltigkeit“ (English: Social Innovations for Sustainability), an initiative which focuses on social innovations for ecological progress. Innovations in environmental and climate protection are among the most important drivers of growth and employment and have great potential in successfully mastering the transformation to a sustainable and future-fit society.
Within three years the SINA program aims to determine the ecological, social and economic potential of social innovations to achieve Germany’s climate, environmental and sustainability goals.
SHE STARS – See Her Empowered
Absa Bank Kenya in collaboration with the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and implemented by Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), Employment and Skills for Development in Africa (E4D) Programme supported by Yunus Environment Hub (YEH) have launched a project dubbed “SHE STARS – See Her Empowered” program to support women-owned businesses impacted by the Covid-19 economic situation and increased climate risks.
Over the course of 18 months, Yunus Environment Hub (YEH) supports 1,500 women-led micro, small and medium enterprises to build more resilient, sustainable, and competitive businesses in response to disrupted livelihoods, climate change, biodiversity loss and a resource depleting economy.
Build Back Better
Together with the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), Yunus Environment Hub has launched the Built Back Better Social Business Program to support 25 social businesses in Kenya to harness the advantages of the circular economy for a sustainable and resilient recovery from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The program promotes the transformation to a more economically sustainable business growth that prioritizes social and environmental sustainability and long-term employment opportunities. The 16-months program involves implementing individualized business solutions based on entrepreneur’s needs, societal and current global environmental challenges.
StartNow is a self-learning platform where aspiring entrepreneurs interact and build their business plan within 8 weeks. With a combination of online-offline experiences, the entrepreneurs are able to advance the creation and testing of their business plans as well as discover tools to track their progress after finalizing the self-learning experience. The process is accompanied by weekly mentoring sessions to provide constant feedback.
During a 3-year program supported by DPCL and Yunus & You - The YY Foundation, Yunus Environment Hub will address environmental degradation and youth unemployment in East Africa.
GrowUp supports early-stage entrepreneurs in East Africa who have proven their business concept and want to scale up their social businesses to become self-sustainable. During 6 months, the incubatees receive tailored mentorship based on their needs, interactive capacity building workshops and networking opportunities with international and local partners and peer-to-peer support.
ValuCred is a consortium led by Yunus Environment Hub, Nehlsen AG and Rodiek, and BlackForest Solutions, for the design and financing of sustainable plastic waste management systems.
The ValuCred project is one of the first promoted by PREVENT Waste Alliance with funding from the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and the Röchling Stiftung for the development of an international Standard Process Model (SPM) that aligns and connects interdependent stakeholders in the ‘Plastic Credits’ market.
Bringing radical transparency into the generation and valorization of Plastic Credits, ValuCred empowers informal waste workers in low-income countries whilst striving for zero plastic leakage into the environment.
The Amazon Rainforest is not only home to a variety of endangered animal and plant species, but constitutes one of the world’s most important regions for our global climate. Yunus Environment Hub thus engages in the preservation of the Amazon Rainforest and indigenous culture through social business support programs to enhance sustainable entrepreneurship and income opportunities among local communities. We believe that indigenous and local communities play an important role in protecting and strengthening the biodiversity of the Amazon Rainforest.
Waste Wise Partnership
Waste Wise Partnership (WaP), an initiative spearheaded by the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat), under the Waste Wise Cities programme (WWC), was co-founded by Yunus Environment Hub with the vision of contributing to healthier ecosystems and communities by improving MSW management in cities, and supporting them in transitioning from a linear to a circular economy. WaP aims to bring partners together to enhance coordination and cooperation and deliver aligned products and methodologies to support cities and countries in establishing sustainable MSW management and a circular economy.
ClimateSeed is the first social business by BNP Paribas that was created in 2018 with the support of the Yunus Environment Hub and part of BNP Paribas’ social business intrapreneurship program. ClimateSeed’s mission is to contribute to the preservation of our planet by offering organizations to easily and securely take actions towards a more sustainable world. The user-friendly digital platform allows companies to offset their unavoidable CO2 emissions by contributing to a variety of sustainable projects around the world.
For more information see https://www.climateseed.com/.
Through our comprehensive training program for social business entrepreneurs, we aim to promote circular economy opportunities in Ethiopia. We want to inspire and empower entrepreneurs in a three-phase process:
1) Open access webinars for future and current entrepreneurs
2) 4-week mentoring program for early-stage social business entrepreneurs
3) Circular Ethiopia Demo Day to showcase the social businesses
Extended Producer Responsibility
Yunus Environment Hub is co-chairing PREVENT Waste Alliance’ working group on closing loops for packaging & EPR. PREVENT Waste Alliance was initiated by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development to contribute to minimising waste, eliminating pollutants and maximising the reuse of resources in the economy worldwide. The first working group result is an EPR toolbox that enables policy makers and local waste management stakeholders in low- and middle-income countries to finance and organize waste collection, sorting and recycling. The toolbox is centered around factsheets, FAQs, and case studies and was developed in collaboration with stakeholders from piloting partner countries Ghana and Indonesia. Find the toolbox here.
Bridges for Peace - Sustainable Agriculture in Rural Colombia
During the peak of the global Covid-19 pandemic Yunus Environment Hub has delivered a 12-week long training and mentoring program for small-holder farmer organizations in rural Colombia as part of Fundación Compaz`s Bridges for Peace Program. During the course of the program four social business entrepreneurs from the Amazonas region, Pacific, Guajira and Bolivar received online trainings and a personalized development plans to overcome challenges related to access to markets, branding & digital marketing and improving financial sustainability. Each venture has a specific approach to empower local communities such as indigenous, afro-Colombian, youth or women groups to provide income opportunities through sustainable agricultural practices.
Yunus Environment Fellows
At Yunus Environment Hub, we firmly believe that social business entrepreneurs constitute the thriving force behind social change and a more sustainable world. We therefore constantly incubate social businesses that address today's environmental challenges in a broad scope of countries. Our activities hereby not only comprise ideation workshops and strategic assistance during all stages of the business development process but furthermore include the provision of expert mentoring and facilitation of network opportunities for peer learning and access to new markets.
Zero Plastic Waste Awareness Campaigns
In order to foster both awareness and action on local plastic waste issues, Yunus Environment Hub offers stakeholder activation workshops in communities of high plastic waste leakage. For example, we conducted an awareness-raising clean-up campaign led by waste pickers to train community leaders and educate households on waste segregation as well as capacity-building workshops through a pop-up recycling center on the Colombian Caribbean coast which aimed at strengthening the waste collection for recycling as well as connecting regional stakeholders and engaging social business entrepreneurs within the community.
Grameen Precious Plastic
In joint collaboration with the open source project Precious Plastic, Grameen Telecom and Yunus Environment Hub set up a pilot recycling workspace in Dhaka, Bangladesh to engineer products from recycled plastic. After a successful pilot project, the program shall be introduced in different parts of Bangladesh through the incubation of new entrepreneurs of the so-called “Nobin Uddokta Program” to create employment opportunities as well as the manufacture of recycling machines in the country. The program features
(1) the setup of plastic recycling and manufacturing,
(2) training young adults on working with plastic waste and the respective machinery to manufacture products,
(3) designing and testing innovative products made from secondary materials as well as
(4) supporting informal waste pickers who collect the plastic waste.
The Plastic Lab
The Plastic Lab is a creative laboratory that works on solutions to keep plastic out of nature and support the transition to a circular economy by connecting social business entrepreneurs, corporations, scientists and innovators. Social businesses play an important role to create an effective after-use plastics economy to capture more material value and to increase resource productivity to turn the tap on plastic pollution as well as to design new business models that reduce plastic packaging in the first place.
Aiming to increase recycling rates in global car manufacturing industries, Japanese car-repair and manufacturing company Sunpower has teamed up with the Grameen network to establish a joint venture based in Bangladesh. Building upon the high recyclability potential of many car parts, the established social business will not only contribute to the transformation towards a more circular global car manufacturing industry, but will furthermore provide employment to workers from the informal sector as well as people with employment difficulties.
Artist Olafur Eliasson launched the Little Sun social business in 2012 to bring clean, affordable solar energy to the 1.1 billion people living without electricity. Since then, more than one million Little Sun lamps have been distributed worldwide, with more than half going to off-grid areas. Every lamp purchased in the Global North delivers a Little Sun to communities living without energy access at a price they can afford. In areas without access to electricity, they provide a clean alternative to toxic and expensive fuel-based lighting and a steadfast and clean alternative to relying on the electrical grid.
For more information and background stories on Little Sun, visit https://www.littlesun.com/