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Nurturing Sustainable Startups in the Global South

Startup incubators across the Global South are doubling down on sustainability. They support early-stage entrepreneurs in building socially and environmentally conscious business models to solve local problems.

Many incubators are promoting renewable energy solutions to overcome infrastructure challenges. For example, Tanzania’s Buni Hub helps its startups engineer products like off-grid refrigeration and cooling systems powered by solar panels. They are increasing access to energy while reducing dependence on diesel generators.

Some incubators focus on clean mobility startups that provide electric vehicles and emission-free transportation. India’s Aavishkaar Group backs electric three-wheeler companies like Autovert Technologies, which aim to electrify over a million cars in India.

Water conservation is also a priority. Social enterprise incubators like Villgro Kenya nurtured startups like Majik Water that develops affordable, portable water filtration devices. Given the threats of water scarcity, startups with sustainable water solutions have significant growth potential.

Incubators also enable startups that leverage technology to reduce waste and allow circular economies. For example, Nigeria’s Wennovation Hub partners with recycling startup WeCyclers, which utilises an app and cargo bicycles to collect household waste for processing.

Many of these incubators receive support from development agencies and impact investors who see sustainability as a critical goal. Their mentorship and seed funding help startups refine business models that balance profitability with social impact.

However, incubators need help scaling up these sustainability startups. Factors like lack of later-stage capital, knowledge gaps in technology implementation, and regulatory hurdles hinder growth.

Nonetheless, these incubators play a pivotal role in propagating sustainability through entrepreneurship in the Global South. They provide shared workspaces, conduct training programs, organize networking events, and arrange piloting opportunities. By bringing like-minded startups together, they cultivate collaborative ecosystems for exchanging ideas and resources around sustainability.

As startup incubators enable more socially conscious and eco-friendly ventures across emerging economies, they have the potential to drive system-wide change. Their startups provide localized and scalable solutions to energy poverty, food insecurity, and unemployment. With the right nurturing, they can unleash a wave of sustainable innovation in the Global South.

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