Entrepreneurship developed according to the principles of sustainable consumption and production can help manage better scarce natural resources, regenerating the ecosystem and ensuring human development that is both efficient and sustainable.
Increasing the numbers of Green Startups and MSMEs is an opportunity for the whole society, promoting innovation, inspiring others to follow the same path, and ultimately attracting interest and capital to the economic sectors that improve the environment and the economy as a whole.
Developing an ecosystem where sustainable business models can flourish requires also creating the infrastructures that can support them.
One important tool available to achieve an equitable development is access to sustainable finance, deployed in a way that takes into consideration economic, social and environmental sustainability.
Sustainable finance takes in consideration environment, society and governance (ESG) principle to formulate a private or public investment decision. It is considered an enabler to support economic development while delivering social and environmental benefits.
To make sustainable finance works for a just ecological transition in the Mediterranean region, efforts to promote multi-stakeholder cooperation and public-private partnerships are required. Financial institutions (FIs), investors and Business Support Organizations (BSOs) are important catalysts to kick start and sustain bottom-up eco-innovation and ecological transition. They can provide the means that are required to implement the complex, interconnected and necessary adjustments the Mediterranean badly needs. Capital is required whenever a business needs investment to further expand, or when a startup leaves the family shed and move to better premises. This is valid for any and all types of businesses, but even more so when an entrepreneur cares not only to the economic sustainability of its creation, but also its social and environmental impact.
The Switchers Fund: improving access to sustainable finance
In the Southern Mediterranean, there is a new generation of young people that are innovative and well versed on ICT solutions. They are also more socially and environmentally aware and many are channeling their efforts on how to mitigate issues that affect their communities like recycling needs, solar- powered water pumps and so on.
However, whereas the financial world is well equipped and capable of measuring whether a business can survive in the medium- to long-term, it still lacks the ability to understand the effect that such business will have on the surrounding community and environment. In mainstream economics, the latter factors have been traditionally left outside the evaluation – or, rather, dismissed – as “externalities”. That is, the effects of the activities of an enterprise that are not taken into account as they are considered not relevant to the business plan.
With the right funding, it could be possible to achieve economies of scale and foster small industries capable of sustainably producing goods both for the domestic and international markets. If done at the regional scale, this in turn would be the start of a positive feedback loop for not only the survival, but also the prosperity of the Mediterranean.
MedWaves established The Switchers Fund to provide and facilitate direct funding and business support services to existing and future green, circular and social enterprises in the Mediterranean Region.
The SwitchersFund mobilises local investors and enterprise support programmes as well as European resources to strengthening Mediterranean start-up projects and raise additional funds.
The SwitchersFund serve as a meeting place for private funders including foundations, private donors and impact investors, that can use it as a way to identify interesting projects in the Mediterranean that can be funded directly. Additionally, it can serve as a means to pool different financial resources in to a structured process that brings entrepreneurs from the ideation phase towards sustainability.
To facilitate investments directly to these pioneers, through a mix of grants and technical assistance, as a way of strengthening their start-up projects and a stepping-stone towards raising additional funds in their countries.
The SwitchersFund has three main goals: proving that finance for green start-ups can work; filling the financing and technical assistance gaps; and networking with all the relevant stakeholders in this process.
We guarantee a pool of Support Services including:
Beyond Access to Finance
Along with direct funding provision and technical assistance, MedWaves has other two main goals:
1. Proving that finance for Green start-ups and MSMEs can work;
2. Networking with all the relevant stakeholders and advocating for cooperation mechanisms between the public and the private sector.
MedWaves adopts a network approach, acknowledging that single entities are not enough to solve current environmental and social challenges, and seeks cooperation opportunities with other stakeholders.