Rest Kanju is the executive director and head of operations at Indalo Inclusive.
Kanju is from Acornhoek in Mpumalanga and already showed an interest in green solutions from a young age when he established several eco-clubs in his town.
In 2017 he established Indalo Inclusive as the hosting partner of the global SEED programme, a partnership initiative that advocates for sustainable development and an inclusive green economy globally.
South Africa’s commitment to a greener economy is evident in policy implemented in recent years. However, we still have many issues to address regarding policy coherence, poor implementation capacity, poor planning, and of course funding.
Investment, jobs and competitiveness in the green industry, and a shift in the economy towards cleaner industries and sectors, is the only way forward.
The SEED programme’s goal in Africa is to strengthen and encourage a green and socially inclusive economy. They do this through capacity building, dialogue, and policy consulting.
Indalo Inclusive’s purpose is to strengthen eco-inclusive entrepreneurship by providing a platform for young business people eager to solve some of the country’s most pressing challenges.
Many young entrepreneurs have the answers to green challenges that will benefit their communities and offer great solutions in green economy areas: transport, water, energy, waste, and agriculture. Indalo Inclusive identifies businesses with potential in these areas and support them by developing and promoting them.
Our aim is to scale the businesses that are successful, and we use their business models, with their permission, to replicate in other areas. Scaling these operations ensures a greater impact and help the green economy to grow without increasing pressure on resources or on the environment.
However, as a country we still have a far way to go in investing in greener solutions. Most corporates invest in the three challenges of poverty, inequality, and unemployment, and not enough attention is given to climate change.
Recently we have seen the devastation caused by the KwaZulu-Natal floods. This was a clear example of the dire consequences of climate change. There is no doubt that climate change will eventually have catastrophic consequences for everyone, and especially people in rural areas are vulnerable. But do we take it seriously enough?
The lack of funding in the green space leaves little support for incubating innovations.
And there is also a lack of skills, specifically technical skills that is linked with new technologies and infrastructure in the green sector. The aim of universities and other training facilities should be to train people in these scarce skills, but programmes are limited, and these career opportunities also don’t receive enough exposure.
Indalo Inclusive has partnered with South African and international organisations such as Nedbank, Old Mutual, the Government of Flanders, and the UN Environment Programme to address these issues and create the foundation for a truly inclusive green economy within the country.
So far, Indalo has trained more than 50 entrepreneurs within rural communities, and they run several programmes including the South African Climate Innovation Awards, the Indalopreneur Food Waste and Loss Enterprise Support and Grant Programme that support business ideas in these areas, and the South African Women Entrepreneurs Climate Change Awards. We all need to do our part in making our country greener and many of solutions to environmental and social challenges lies in entrepreneurship.