Eligibility Criteria

SEED welcomes innovative ideas from any enterprise in a developing country or country in transition, which is working in partnership with others to generate economic, environmental and social benefits. SEED's independent International Jury of experts selects Award Winners, those enterprises that have the greatest promise of making substantial improvements in poverty eradication and environmental sustainability while contributing to a greener economy. Proposals, which do not fulfil ALL the eligibility criteria below should not be submitted. Click on the points below for more information.

SEED Award Winners must:

a) demonstrate entrepreneurship and innovation

The activities covered by the enterprise described in the application should be entrepreneurial and innovative, for example delivering new services to communities locally or regionally, bringing a new product to market, or developing a new, effective and financially sustainable way of delivering environmental and social benefits.

b) deliver economic, social and environmental benefits

SEED expects applications from enterprises working in many different sectors. Any application will be considered as long as it fulfils these eligibility criteria and therefore has the potential to contribute towards the internationally agreed goals of the UN’s Millennium Declaration and/or the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation. The enterprise should integrate economic, social and environmental aspects into the business model. SEED is looking for that can make a significant contribution to sustainable development by delivering:

  • social benefits such as community organisation, empowerment and employment, health or education benefits, or access to essential services; and
  • environmental benefits such as reduced carbon emissions, waste or pollution, or protecting biodiversity and ecosystems; and
  • economic benefits including income generation for the leading partners.

SEED will also be looking at the integration of components that respect and advance gender equity and balance.

c) intention and potential to become financially sustainable

Applicants should be able to explain how the enterprise will be financially viable in the long term; it should have a sound business rationale. SEED can help winners to develop their ideas but a draft business plan should be already in place.

d) a partnership between different stakeholder groups

SEED is looking for sustainable development solutions, which are created through different types of organisations or stakeholders working together in partnership. To be eligible, this means the enterprise must involve at least three different partners, from different stakeholder groups, which have already agreed to work together.

e) locally driven or locally led

Local partner/s should be fully engaged in and have the prospect of benefitting from the enterprise, which should reflect the expertise, interests, and commitments of the local communities.

f) potential for scale up or significant replication

The partners should have ambitions for growth and strong potential for increased impact on the ground, either through growth of the enterprise and/or replication elsewhere. Award winners usually also have the potential to serve as inspiration to others. The needs of the enterprise should fit well with the kinds of support SEED can offer.

g) in the early stages of implementation

The enterprise has to be in the set-up phase and in the early stages of implementation. There should be proof of concept with evidence of some early impact.

SEED seeks applications that reflect innovative, forward-thinking, and realistic ideas for new products and services. Enterprises, which are currently being formed and are in the early stages of implementation are eligible for the SEED Award. Partners should have agreed in principle to work together, even if there are no formal agreements yet in place. It is of interest for the SEED Award whether enterprises have already attracted partial or full funding. The main aim of SEED and its partners is to assist with the difficult transition from start-up to establishment.

The enterprise should have a draft business plan, but will only be asked to submit the plan if shortlisted. Winning enterprises will demonstrate a good business rationale and give strong indications of significant economic, environmental and social benefits in the future.

h) in a country with a developing or emerging economy

The enterprise's activities must be taking place in and benefiting communities in a country or countries with a developing economy or economy in transition. A list of these can be found here.

To apply for a SEED Low Carbon Award, enterprises, in addition to the above eight criteria, also need to:

i) make significant contributions to mitigating and/or adapting to climate change

The enterprise's activities have to make significant contributions to climate change mitigation and adaptation, for instance through the reduction of emissions, the use of renewable energy sources or through activities that build climate-resilience.

To apply for a SEED Gender Equality Award, enterprises, in addition to the above eight criteria, also need to be:

i) run or owned by a woman or women and prioritise gender equality and/or women’s empowerment as a core objective

Run or owned by a woman or women: SEED is seeking women-led or owned enterprises as a means to highlight and support women entrepreneurs and innovators who are leading in the area of sustainable development. (Evidence that the enterprise is women-led or women owned, such as any registration or tax report, will be requested from shortlisted candidates for verification)

Prioritise gender equality and/or women's empowerment as a core objective(s):
Enterprises must aim to meet two of the four targets below:

  • explicitly assess and respond to the needs of women in communities where the enterprise is implemented;
  • engage women so that they participate in any decision-making processes in equal, or greater, proportion to men;
  • empower women to be central actors in the implementation of activities;
  • include other activities that strongly advance gender equality or women's empowerment
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