Hivos International

Why Green Entrepreneurship

Since the industrial revolution, human activity has been responsible for large-scale environmental change. Three key environmental impact boundaries - biodiversity loss, the nitrogen cycle, and climate change - have already been crossed, leading to irreversible and abrupt environmental change. Staying within these boundaries is especially challenging in the face of forecast population growth and forced migration.

But more than the planet is being degraded. The increasingly global impact of droughts, floods, desertification, loss of biodiversity and spread of disease is also seriously affecting the living conditions, livelihoods and economic position of women and men who live on this planet.


Hivos sees entrepreneurial people of all ages as frontrunners for change, combining the social with the environmental. ‘Green entrepreneurs’ in particular engage in activities at the crossroads of environmental, economic and social impact. For example, they provide products and services with the help of clean technologies, like renewable energy, or processes, like recycling. By combining sustainable business skills with love and respect for our planet, green entrepreneurs aim to create employment and income, while reducing negative environmental impacts as a result of their final product or service

This is why Hivos supports entrepreneurial women and men as change agents who can potentially reduce poverty, foster sustainable use of our natural resources and  reduce social inequalities.

The Hivos approach

Green entrepreneurs in the Global South are increasingly being recognised for their contribution to sustainable economic growth and their vital role in creating social cohesion and combatting the adverse effects of climate change all over the globe. To reach their full potential, these entrepreneurs need to be supported by appropriate services and an enabling environment. Based on lessons learned from our earlier work and that of others, Hivos aims to do just that.

By helping create a more even playing field through market access, tailored training, advocacy and access to finance, we have seen that (potential) green entrepreneurs can turn their ideas into viable businesses and become a part of the essential move towards a more sustainable and equitable economy, locally and globally.

The overall market for green enterprises in the Global South is young and vibrant. A long-term agenda is needed and return on investments will take time. But green entrepreneurs are undoubtedly the catalysts for transitioning to a sustainable economy, while providing critical social and environmental goods and services that benefit people and the planet.