Climate change

African projects recognised at Small Business Champions Initiative awards

  • 27 September 2022

The winners and runners-up of the 2022 edition of the Small Business Champions Competition were announced at a virtual event co-organised by the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), the Informal Working Group on Micro, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (MSMEs) and the International Trade Centre (ITC).

Benin’s Association Professionnelle Accompagnements Valeurs Expertises Conseils and the Tanzania Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture are the two winners of the competition whose work aim to help small businesses reduce their carbon footprint and benefit from innovations that advance sustainability. 

The two runners-up are the Sidley Austin Emerging Enterprises Pro Bono Program and the United Kingdom’s Inclusive Trade Ltd. 

Announced at a virtual event on 26 September, the awards were presented by ICC Representative Director Crispin Conroy, Jose-Luis Cancela, Ambassador and Coordinator of the Informal Working Group on MSMEs, and ITC Deputy Executive Director Dorothy Tembo. 

Speaking at the event, Mr Conroy said: “This year the initiative focused on climate and environmental action, an area where MSMEs’ active engagement and contribution is key if we are to achieve ambitious environmental targets. The stakes are high, as are expectations, but the Small Business Champions Initiative has highlighted once again that with sustained public-private collaboration and innovative solutions, we can empower MSMEs to take ambitious environmental and climate action.” 

The 2022 edition of the competition focused on the transition of small businesses to a sustainable economy – to help them grow, trade and become resilient. The innovative projects brought forth by the winners will not only raise awareness of the difficulties small businesses are facing when trading in the context of climate change but will also promote best practices in transitioning to sustainable and green trade.  

The project by Benin’s Association Professionnelle Accompagnements Valeurs Expertises Conseils aims to develop the capacity of MSMEs in Benin to undertake industrial decarbonisation practices. 

Youssoufou Daoda Labot of the Association said: “The project supports small businesses working in the manufacturing industry, a rapidly growing sector in Benin. Six hundred industrial processing units, especially representing the small food industries, will be trained and equipped in lowering their CO2 emissions. 

The Tanzania Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture aims for its part to raise awareness among businesses and policymakers through its Tanzania Go Green Project about the difficulties MSMEs encounter in relation to decarbonisation. 

Tanzania Chamber representative Nebart Mwapwele said: “Our major goal is enhancing green production for economic development and environmental sustainability. We will highlight best practices that are helping small businesses decarbonise their production and become more sustainable. We are planning a three-day capacity-building workshop in eight regions of Tanzania Mainland and Zanzibar and a green production summit with businesses, corporations, NGOs and international organisations. 

The project by Inclusive Trade Ltd aims to help MSMEs measure and report on their sustainability practices in global value chains by providing verification tools, while the Sidley Austin Emerging Enterprises Pro Bono Program offers workshops to SMEs to help them unpack the legal issues related to implementing green business practices. 

All four winners and runners-up will have the opportunity to pitch their projects, either virtually or physically, to potential investors within the Geneva-based Building Bridges event early October. The event will bring together international players who share an inclusive and systemic vision of a sustainable society that equally addresses social, economic and environmental issues. 

Launched in 2021 to facilitate participation by smaller companies in international trade, the Small Business Champions Initiative provides a platform for companies and private sector organisations around the world to propose innovative, practical ideas designed to encourage MSMEs to do business across borders. 

Last year’s edition recognised projects that help small businesses become part of the digital economy so that they can trade internationally and become more resilient to crises.