Hivos International

Green Entrepreneurship

Fair and equal access to resources and services is an essential condition for human development. But we are still very far away from realising this. As people and planet face tremendous social, economic and environmental challenges - aggravated by climate change, urbanisation and unsustainable consumption and production patterns - the cry for action has become louder than ever before.

Innovative micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) run by passionate entrepreneurs have great potential to provide the necessary shift towards more sustainable and resilient production and consumption. But while many policymakers, NGOs and investors agree on their importance and role, actual long-term support and opportunities for these enterprises remains patchy. This is where the Hivos Green & Social Entrepreneurship Support Programme steps in.

Entrepreneurs as agents of change

The Hivos Green Entrepreneurship programme puts innovative entrepreneurs at the heart of a global transformation towards a more sustainable and inclusive planet. It targets ordinary people and promising entrepreneurs who display the potential to challenge and disrupt the status quo. We locate, support and mentor them through our local networks, programme activities and tools developed by practitioners, investors and regional experts.

The ‘green entrepreneurs’ we support all believe that having positive social and environmental impact can go hand in hand with running a successful business. They work to provide innovations, services and products that can have a direct positive environmental impact or put less pressure on key resources such as soils, water and air quality. They take basic human rights, such as living wages, into account and provide job opportunities for youth and women, who are often left behind. They are the frontrunners on the road we must all eventually travel towards a sustainable economy. These enterprises can fill the gaps left by traditional businesses and governmental agencies that refuse or neglect to provide critical social and environmental goods and services.

What Hivos does

Hivos has decades of experience in supporting producers, government entities, distributors, financial institutions, knowledge institutes, civil society actors and consumers to enable more sustainable systems and investment opportunities.

Through our networks, connections and partners we are able to support and strengthen the business environment surrounding green entrepreneurs as well as the entrepreneurs themselves. We have developed various programmes around the world that allow people to scale their impact and increase their social, environmental and financial value through green entrepreneurship and sound business practices.

We help them either take their first steps, or roll-out innovative business solutions to tackle some of today’s most pressing problems regarding resource depletion, income inequality, climate change adaptation and migration. Our programme scouts, trains, mentors, supports and invests in talent, with a focus on enterprises that have both a strong social and environmental agenda.

The Hivos approach takes entrepreneurs from the brainstorming phase, through development and start-up, to become viable and sustainable businesses.

Key support includes:

  • Coworking spaces and digital platforms  
  • Direct and online training: business development training on the job, leadership training; mentoring and capacity development
  • Access to finance through increasing investment readiness, investor matchmaking and investments of our own, such as from Hivos Impact Investments and the Hivos Triodos Fund
  • Advocacy with CSOs, government and private sector to achieve more enabling policies (i.e. through our advocacy programmes Sustainable Diets for All, Green & Inclusive Energy and Women@Work)
  • Knowledge exchange and active learning (i.e. through our Food and Energy Change Labs)
  • Links to markets, financial institutions and local governments

Activities