Green jobs created and retained through EU in SA project partnership
  Mar 3, 2021     News, South Africa, business, investment, green economy, Green Finance, green outcomes fund, EU Delegation in SA, green SMME, Resilience

The EU Delegation to South Africa and the Green Outcomes Fund partnered in 2020 for a multi-stakeholder project targeted at a post-Covid green economic recovery, with a particular focus on green SMME recovery.



This success story saw not only 760 jobs retained, but in addition resulted in 41 jobs created by participating green SMMEs during project implementation.

The project included stakeholder engagement dialogue events, financial resilience support to a cohort of green SMMEs through the Green Outcomes Fund (GOF), as well as a policy input document presented to National Treasury’s The Jobs Fund (the initiative that funds GOF’s pilot phase).

The SMMEs that were part of this project represented a spectrum of green economy businesses. The cohort included waste recycling, alternative clean energy, recycled materials, sustainable materials, sustainable agriculture, ecological sustainability, water sustainability and efficiency and land rehabilitation.

“Green SMMEs offer a great opportunity through which South Africa can drive its post-Covid-19 recovery as well as longer-term structural reforms required to prosper. Given the key role played by small businesses in employment creation and inclusive economic growth, support for them will surely be an integral part of South Africa’s recovery plan,” said Ambassador Riina Kionka, EU Ambassador to SA. “But scarce resources mean that government will have to prioritise these towards sectors that have a long-term future, support socio-economic development, create and protect jobs, and can bring long-term competitiveness in a rapidly changing global landscape,” she added.

National, provincial and local South African government stakeholders, as well as representatives from industry and civil society were engaged in online dialogues on the theme of green SMME recovery. Green economy and policy experts from various national government departments (including National Treasury’s The Jobs Fund, the Department of Science and Innovation, the Presidency, the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition, the Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries and the Department of Small Business Development) were engaged to provide input.

The project’s events were hosted by GreenCape, with the financial support of the European Union’s Partnership Instrument and the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, and Nuclear Safety (BMU) in the context of the International Climate Initiative (IKI).

Insights about current international and South African green recovery approaches and initiatives, and barriers to implementation, can inform policy development towards investment practices that can continue to aid recovery, and the just transition.


The key policy input consideration insights from this project are:
  • Small business is integral to the South African economy and must be supported to survive and thrive: SMMEs have significant potential to contribute to the long-term growth and development of the South African economy, and especially to create the vast numbers of jobs required to reduce unemployment, grow meaningful employment, and contribute to the long-term social transformation of South Africa.
  • Green SMMEs should be prioritised in line with national objectives and international trends: Green SMMEs have a fundamental role to play in the future development of the South African economy, in order to meet the parallel objectives of job creation, social upliftment and meaningful transformation, and environmental protection and rehabilitation, climate change mitigation and adaptation, and adoption of circular economy resource efficiency practices.
  • Innovative funding models can save small business and help them to grow: The Green Outcomes Fund offers a number of key insights into the resilient, adaptable nature of green SMMEs, and the role that innovative funding models can play in ensuring their survival and growth. The cross-cutting nature of the green economy, both across different sectors (e.g. clean energy, sustainable agriculture, waste management, water, etc.) and up and down value chains, ensures that even in times of crisis there is a need for their services and operations to continue.
  • Support needs to align with strategic long-term objectives globally and nationally given the shortages of financial and other resources: Whilst the immediate priority is to survive the immediate impacts and enable recovery from the Covid-19 crisis, it is important to remember that policy responses put in place now will have long-term impacts on the future structure, competitiveness and sustainability of the economy.


This project will now be followed up ongoing work with a network of partners that aims to be as proactive as possible in removing possible trade barriers that green SMMEs will face as a result of Covid-19. The intention of the new project is to explore ways to create viable climate-friendly business partnerships across borders in the context of a world that is recovering from Covid-19 and to play a role in mapping, understanding and overcoming the ‘new’ barriers to trade that are a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.