Cape Town’s dire water crisis, after a three-year long drought fortunately averted by the recent rains, serves as a warning for the rest of South Africa. Johannesburg could face a similar crisis in the future, should its rainfall decrease for a few successive years. Tree-huggers have been warning us of this for years and have proposed solutions, but they can’t do it alone; business sector resources are needed to help solve these issues.
What most of us do is watch apprehensively as the water levels in dams drop, take shorter showers, set up grey water systems, grow water-wise gardens, wash our cars with buckets of water and imagine how we might survive a day zero. There are tangible things we can do to head off disaster – like finding innovative business solutions to environmental challenges.
For the past decade Avocado Vision’s Enterprise Development has supported the setup and operation of micro enterprises across South Africa with its Supplier and Enterprise development programmes which focus on equipping small, low-turnover businesses with business insights and acumen which enables them to become more sustainable and creating consistent and recurring incomes.
With Avocado Vision’s new business segment, the Green Business Value Chain unit, we aim to unlock the potential of developing micro and small business, with a focus on finding solutions to enhance employment, small business development, and job security in the environmental sector, particularly where efforts to influence water security and reduce alien invasive species are key outcomes.
Alien invasive species, typically from other countries, with no local natural enemies, growing unchecked in their millions, consume between 3% and 6% of South Africa’s useable water. They’re a very real threat to river and dam water levels – what we need to do is build a commercial demand for alien invasive plant biomass which will reduce the spread of alien plants, inject more money into sustaining the invasive-clearing activities and get businesses of all sizes involved.
Big business becomes the catalyst by creating the demand – the middle-sized entrepreneurs arrange new solutions to meet the demand, and small businesses link into the supply chains with invasive-clearing activities and meet the demand for the biomass material.
Right now we’re drowning in single-use plastic products – plastic straws, cutlery, lids (for the millions of cups of takeaway coffee) and polystyrene packaging for food, being a few. Currently no-one in South Africa is manufacturing bio-degradable alternatives – here is a perfect opportunity for entrepreneurial innovation to switch to using invasive biomass as raw material. Entrepreneurs are often the ones who hit on social problems and invent business solutions to solve them; the plethora of wild biomass can support decades of production, and it provides a solution to water security in our country.
Calling all innovative entrepreneurs – if you feel inspired to create something brilliant, check in with the Green Business Value Chain team at Avocado Vision, we’ll connect you to the support you need to make magic happen.