The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region faces major economic challenges, such as the highest unemployment rate and the lowest women’s labor force in the world. The MENA region is also confronting major environmental challenges, including climate change, water scarcity, land degradation, pollution and waste management.
At the Regional Activity Centre for Sustainable Consumption and Production (SCP/RAC), we are convinced that Green Entrepreneurs are one of the main drivers of job creation and to move towards more sustainable lifestyles. Indeed, Green Start-Ups create economic value and also environmental and social value, successfully addressing employment needs and environmental challenges. Thus, through the SwitchMed initiative, we are developing a training and supporting program promoting Green Entrepreneurship in eight MENA countries: Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Egypt, Jordan, Israel, Palestine and Lebanon.
To date, more than 1,300 Green Entrepreneurs have been selected (out of 3,500 applicants) in the eight countries and already started or completed the training program. During a period of three months, they are supported for the development and the testing of their Green Business Models. The best Green Business Models are then selected to take part in an incubation program. In the next two years, we expect to train up to a total of 2,400 Green Entrepreneurs and support the creation of 45 Green Start-Ups in the eight countries. Stories from Green Entrepreneurs that have developed ecological and social innovative solutions that are making an impact on the circular economy and sustainable living in the Mediterranean are promoted through The Switchers platform.
SwitchMed (www.switchmed.eu) is an initiative funded by the European Union that supports and connects stakeholders to scale up ecological/economic social innovations around the Mediterranean. It is collaboratively coordinated by the EU, the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO), the United Nations Environment Programme Mediterranean Action Plan (UNEP/MAP), its Regional Activity Centre for Sustainable Consumption and Production (SCP/RAC), and the UNEP-DTIE (Division of Technology, Industry and Economics). See more examples: www.theswitchers.eu
This article featured in Revolve Magazine Issue #20 (Summer 2016) on pg. 8-9
Writer: Giorgio Mosangini