How do you empower local entrepreneurs to advance bottom-up solutions to climate change? How do you provide local green entrepreneurs with the technical assistance and market intelligence they need to validate innovative technologies and business models? How do you improve these entrepreneurs' access to capital?
These are some of the questions discussed by the World Bank Group’s Climate Business Innovation Network (CBIN) at its most recent meeting in Pretoria, South Africa earlier this month.
This network of leaders of incubators and accelerators from around the world meets bi-annually to share their experiences supporting green entrepreneurs, brainstorm solutions to common challenges, and learn from business incubation experts in this emerging field.
The diversity of the CBIN members gathered in Pretoria was striking, with 15 countries and a variety of professional backgrounds represented. All members of the network, however, share a passion for driving innovation, creating local economic growth, and tackling climate change mitigation and adaptation challenges in their countries.
Throughout the CBIN meeting, filled with workshops, discussions, networking opportunities, and brainstorming sessions, incubators and accelerators shared lessons learned and best practices from around the world. The participants heard about their peers’ success in conducting entrepreneurship bootcamps, in preparing entrepreneurs for meetings with investors, and in fundraising for incubator activities.
CBIN members developed partnership proposals and solutions for common challenges throughout the week, as the camaraderie among the group grew. Members identified opportunities to contribute to the development of the entrepreneurial ecosystems and green sectors in their home countries. Participants also determined areas in which they would benefit from capacity building, such as designing and implementing an effective mentorship program and incubation management training for staff.
Since its launch in 2016, the effectiveness of CBIN’s South-South knowledge exchange and delivery of targeted technical assistance through a community of practice has become evident. Collaboration among CBIN members has increased significantly, there is growing interest from outside incubators and accelerators in joining the network, and start-ups being incubated continue to reach commercialization.
Many of the incubators are in countries where droughts and storms of increasing frequency and severity are already impacting people’s lives. By advancing the adoption of green products and services, Climate Business Innovation Network members are working to develop greener economies that address poverty through job creation and climate action.
The Climate Business Innovation Network is supported by the World Bank Group's Climate Technology Program, an initiative sponsored by the government of the United Kingdom, Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (Australian Aid), Denmark’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (DANIDA), Norway’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the Netherlands’ Ministry of Foreign Affairs.