African solutions for a green economy: interview with Kate Berrisford


What is the Green Africa Directory and what inspired you to create it?

The Green Africa Directory is a pan-African, online network of organisations with solutions for sustainable development. It’s also a hub for news and information on the environment and sustainability across the continent – featuring green news, jobs, events and other information. I was inspired to start the Green Africa Directory when I discovered how challenging it could be to find contacts for organisation operating in Africa in the sustainability sector – and when I discovered that there was no comprehensive online platform to bring together and connect the sustainability sector in Africa.

When was it started?

The organisation was founded in 2012. The seed was planted when I worked in the environmental NGO sector and found that it was often challenging to find contacts for other organisations doing related environmental work in different countries and cities across Africa. I searched for networks connecting people and organisations working on various aspects of sustainability in Africa – from biodiversity and conservation to climate change and environmental management – and when I found that there was no pan-African online network doing this – I was inspired to start one myself. I also envisaged the network as being more than just a directory of organisations working on sustainability in Africa – to include actively facilitating connections and collaboration, creating awareness for environmental initiatives and campaigns, and providing access to information on green jobs, green events and courses, and other resources relevant to people working in the sustainability sector in Africa.

Who is the person that founded stands behind the Green Africa Directory??

I started the Green Africa Directory in 2012, with the help of some very skilled website developers and designers. Since then I have been working hard to scale the reach of the network by promoting it in social media, forming strategic partnerships, increasing the number of organizations profiled on the directory and expanding our online readership.

What does it aim to achieve and what has already been accomplished?

We aim to provide a green networking platform that facilitates interaction, collaboration and the sharing of ideas and solutions that will lead Africa towards a sustainable development path. We want to help create a future in Africa that ensures well-being, environmental sustainability, alleviation of poverty, resource efficiency and more resilient communities through scaling and supporting initiatives that provide sustainable solutions, services and products. Our network brings together civil society, business, industry, academia and government – because everyone needs to be involved in transitioning towards a greener and truly sustainable future. Over the past three years we have been able to achieve a growing reach – with over 80,000 people using and engaging with our network. We are also actively involved in connecting organisations within our network with relevant opportunities and contacts.

What partnerships have you formed and why are they important?

The Green Africa Directory connects with thousands of people and organisations working in the environmental sustainability field in Africa and globally. We have also created a number of strategic partnerships with organisations that share our goals for a better world. For example, we are endorsing partners of the Global Netzwork on Sustainable Innovation and Entrepeneurship, The Global Network on Sustainable Lifestyles, we are a 100% Green flagship, we are an African highlight on the United Nations Sustainable Production and Consumption Clearinghouse; we’re an official UNEP Think Eat Save campaign supporter; and we continue to enter into media partnerships with important conferences around the world including The World Future Energy Summit, SusCon and Africa Utility Week. 

Why did you choose to profile CmiA and AbTF on the Green Africa Directory?

We are delighted to have Cotton made in Africa and the Aid by Trade Foundation initiative profiled on the Green Africa Directory, because it is a leading example of solutions for sustainable development in Africa that have the power to transform agriculture and forestry into sustainable practices. They also contribute towards sustainable livelihoods and poverty alleviation in Africa. We are keen to let people learn more about organisations and initiatives like these, so that they learn about sustainable agriculture and forestry and the impact these practices have on the natural environment and lives of communities – but also to raise awareness about how people can contribute towards a sustainable future for Africa through their buying power and through collaboration and partnerships.

What is the impact of the Green Africa Directory on the establishment of a green African economy? What has been your greatest success so far?

A green economy is defined by UNEP as one that one provides “improved human well-being and social equity, while significantly reducing environmental risks and ecological scarcities.” The organisations profiled on the Green Africa Directory offer sustainable products and services and we aim to help them increase their market share and help them raise awareness and supporters – thereby facilitating the transition towards greener and more resilient African economies. I feel that our greatest success is the number of people and organisations using our platform annually and the growth in number of organisations choosing to be profiled on our directory. This shows that there is a real need for a platform like ours – to provide a means of connecting people and organisations globally who are working to achieve sustainable development in Africa.

What are your future plans for the Green Africa Directory?

We’d like to continue to grow the number of people using our platform, as well as the number of organisations profiled on the directory so that it becomes a truly indispensable resource for anyone working in the sustainability sector in Africa. We have many plans for scaling the impact of the work we do and are currently looking for sponsors to help us expand and accelerate our work. 

About Kate Berrisford

I am from (and live in) Cape Town, South Africa. In 2013, through my work at the Green Africa Directory, I received recognition from the AfriCAN Climate for my contribution to raising awareness of climate change issues in Africa.

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