The 11th SDG of the UN Agenda affirms that environmental and socio-economic policies should be considered essential for economic growth and for making cities and human settlements inclusive, safe and sustainable. Moreover, the dialogue between institutions and communities is crucial to make societies resilient and to enable them to tackle economic crises and natural disasters by giving priority to ecosystems, social equity and poverty decreasing.

This is particularly important if we consider that in many African Countries the vulnerability of local communities is increasing and themes such as sustainability and resilience are placed in the background.

For this reason, the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs launched the “Blue and Green” project in February 2022, in order to contribute to the social development of local communities in Dakar (Senegal) and Kampala (Uganda). To achieve this objective, the project will improve the managerial and organizational skills of the two cities’ municipalities in the waste value chain and will enhance the entrepreneurs’ contribution to the waste life cycle and urban and coastal requalification. The project is executed by two Italian organizations: CIHEAM-Bari and E4Impact Foundation.

The activities implemented within the project include training courses on blue economy and sustainable development of coastal communities, but also webinars to train the municipalities of Dakar and Kampala on the management of municipal companies. Besides, a study tour to Milan will allow the beneficiaries to share and acquire best practices in sustainable waste management, while a laboratory on the role of municipalities in entrepreneurship promotion will support the scale-up of the small and micro enterprises of the two countries, that are already playing a vital role in fostering social equity by promoting and implementing economic activities. The lessons learned in the project will be inserted into a Manual of Best Practices on the blue and green economy.

Through the project, some scholarships have been awarded to local entrepreneurs to attend the E4Impact MBA in Impact Entrepreneurship, dedicated to entrepreneurs dealing with environmental and social issues. Two beneficiaries of this opportunity are Winnie Najjuma and John Mark, both from Kampala. By entering the project, they remarked the importance of implementing an entrepreneurship program and developing relationships with the local institutions in order to strengthen their social impact.

John Mark is the founder of BioBloom (U) Ltd, a social enterprise that uses the “black soldier fly” and agricultural by products to produce organic fertilizer. Its mission is to increase the productivity of small-scale farms with organic fertilizers while protecting soil health through regenerative agriculture. Thanks to the participation in the Blue and Green project, he will acquire flexible learning, access rich and practical course material and get involved in an extensive entrepreneurship ecosystem. His goals for the future are to concretize the social enterprise model, build traction and strategic partnerships, confirm the distribution model, start black soldier fly production for waste management economy and raise investment.

Winnie Najjuma is the founder of CCupa Creations, a company that recycles glass and sells environmentally friendly household products. Many glass items, such as wine and alcohol bottles, are not recyclable in Uganda but Ccupa Creations recycles these materials turning them into household items. The production process is completely environmentally friendly, releasing fewer carbon emissions than traditional melting methods used in the glass recycling industry. The company cuts and polishes the bottles, creating new shapes and proposing original and customised objects and decorations for the home: glasses, bottle lanterns, wind chimes, planters, snack bowls, candle holders, recalling Ugandan art and craftsmanship.

But the project is not just impacting on Ugandans: in a few weeks, online training will start for public officials of the municipality of Dakar and they will learn how to develop an entrepreneurial program within the blue and green economy. We look forward to seeing the first positive results from our beneficiaries!