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Boosting green business growth in DRC and Gabon – what’s feasible?

Posted on January 17, 2018 6:16:00 AM

Complementing CAFI’s first role, which is to create the policy changes necessary to halt forest loss, its second priority is to support an economic transition from a forest-based economy to a forest-friendly and green economy. As a multi-stakeholder initiative, engaging with a broad range of implementation partners, CAFI has built a unique network to support this shift.

Committed to ambitious targets regarding forest loss through the letters of intent signed with CAFI in 2016 and 2017, Gabon and the DRC were the center of a recent feasibility study. The focus: the potential for incubator-accelerator initiatives to assist CAFI in reducing pressure on forests through the replication and scaling of green and inclusive business models.

To demonstrate the value of forests, CAFI seeks to promote forest-friendly sectors capable of creating value for communities, whilst at the same time promoting the protection and preservation of the forest. The feasibility study allowed CAFI to develop a better understanding of the support needed for growth and development for small-and-medium enterprises in these sectors.

Gabon - boosting value derived from forests in a sustainable way to support the government’s economic diversification efforts

In Gabon, a typical entrepreneur is male, 35+, and with limited technical training. Having likely quit or lost a job, he is seeking business ownership in the retail or service sectors.

Seeing this an opportunity to redirect the interest of these business owners toward forest-friendly sectors, the feasibility study encourages the development and growth of enterprises within: eco-tourism, sustainable forestry/wood processing, non timber forest products and sustainable agriculture.

Leveraging CAFI’s existing technical network, selected SMEs and owners would be connected with international organizations (IO’s) for supply chain development, with a view to generate functional start-ups that could act as a precedent for entering target sectors proactively. Partnerships with IO’s, and a combination of targeted skills development and accelerator funding would boost the value of forest preservation in a sustainable way and support national diversification efforts.

The DRC - promoting employment in sectors that can divert people from activities that are key drivers of deforestation

In the DRC, entrepreneurs have a lower capacity to start a business, largely due to lack of financing. Business owners also require basic business training and technical support.

Eager to dissuade people from engaging in activities that are acute deforestation drivers, CAFI identified the potential in incentivizing the entrance of start-ups in to forest-friendly sectors by offering training (basics of business management & business plan review) technical mentoring, and grant funding (for top incubatees).

Based on the feasibility study, CAFI is currently discussing with partners the setup modalities of the incubator/accelerator by 1) defining a clear business plan building on the feasibility study findings and detailed value chain analyses; 2) establishing the pilot incubator and starting to create impact by working with the first cohort of incubatees; and 3) refining the model and focusing on expanding and strengthening the ecosystem, with clear sight of impact measurement and of the handover plan for sustainability.

Summary of Gabon-DRC Feasibility Study (pdf)

Gabon-DRC Feasibility Study FACT SHEET (pdf)

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