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GreenCape celebrates 10th year of green economy investment facilitation

CAPE TOWN – Green Economy focused investment agency based in Cape Town, GreenCape, is celebrating its tenth anniversary this year. Since the official launch on 5 November 2010, GreenCape has leveraged its funding partnerships and industry networks to facilitate R41bn worth of investment into the South African green economy, supporting the creation of 19,000 direct green jobs.

Western Cape Premier Alan Winde who launched GreenCape back in 2010 says the non profit investment agency has made a significant difference to the green economy of the Western Cape.

“When I first launched GreenCape as a non-profit green economy sector development agency in 2010, I envisaged impact on a scale that would make a significant difference to the green economy of this region.Over the past 10 years, GreenCape has delivered this impact. These green economy projects have driven green economic growth in the Western Cape and South Africa. While much has been achieved over the last 10 years, all of us need to redouble our efforts and focus on delivering an economic recovery that will deliver jobs and dignity for our people,” said Premier Winde.

The expanding Western Cape Green Economy

Originally established to facilitate the achievement of the target and growth of the Western Cape’s renewable energy sector, GreenCape’s operations has expanded to include a national footprint with a broader green economy focus, including water, sustainable agriculture, circular economy and green finance. The GreenCape team has grown from an initial staff of three in 2010, to a team of 45 in 2020. As a cluster organisation, GreenCape’s business membership has grown to more than 2,200 businesses.

“Investment aimed at growing the green economy ensures the sustainability of future economic opportunities. It also creates jobs now, which remains a strategic priority especially at this time when economic recovery is a critical focus,” said Western Cape Minister of Finance and Economic Opportunities David Maynier. 

“Over the past 10 years, GreenCape has implemented multiple keystone projects that have unlocked barriers to green economy growth, importantly, with projects that focus on building energy security and resource resilience in the Western Cape,” he added.

Initially funded by the Western Cape Department of Economic Development and Tourism, GreenCape’s funding partnerships have diversified to include the City of Cape Town’s Department of Enterprise Development and Investment as a core funder, as well as multiple national government departments, DFIs, international funders, foundations and the private sector.

“The green economy is a key sector in Cape Town and has enormous potential to contribute to a thriving, sustainable business ecosystem that creates jobs,” said Alderman James Vos, mayoral committee member for economic opportunities and asset management. “We have identified the green economy as a high growth sector that will be able to contribute to sustainable jobs in the near future. I am particularly proud of our partnership with GreenCape and the returns on investment and the development of the green economy we have seen,” he added.

“Lowering carbon emissions is at the heart of the global climate change narrative, but a green economy will mean so much more for the people of South Africa,” said Mike Mulcahy, CEO of GreenCape. “A green economy is an economy with decent jobs underpinned by sustainable (efficient, clean and profitable) infrastructure solutions that will create and sustain jobs and well-being for this generation and the generations to come. This is what we are most excited about – to celebrate the milestone and continued opportunities to collaborate with our funders and partners towards this goal,” he added.

A few of the highlights include

The Western Cape Industrial Symbiosis Programme (WISP)

The Western Cape Industrial Symbiosis Programme (WISP) is a multiple award-winning free facilitation service to businesses, which is now funded by the City of Cape Town. Our WISP facilitators provide our business members with dedicated time and technical expertise, connecting companies with unused or residual resources such as materials, energy, water, assets, logistics and expertise.

The cumulative impact of WISP over the last six years has been the following:

  • 104,900 tonnes of waste diverted from landfill
  • 309,200 fossil GHG emissions saved (equivalent to the electrical usage of 39,800 households in SA)
  • Over R120m generated in financial benefits (additional revenue, cost savings and private investments)
  • 69 permanent jobs in member companies, as well as 25 temporary positions, and 218 economy-wide jobs in supply chains have been created

Small Scale Embedded Generation (SSEG) municipal framework

GreenCape supported local municipalities to build capacity related to small scale embedded generation (SSEG), whilst creating policy certainty for investors. Changes in municipal regulations governing SSEG system installations have improved market conditions for investors, equipment suppliers, project developers and technical advisors. Read more.

Project management for the designation of the Atlantis Special Economic Zone: GreenCape was the appointed Atlantis SEZ project management unit from 2013 to September 2019, responsible for coordinating the successful application for designation.

Drought business support

GreenCape’s drought support team offered free support to businesses in the province, and continues to do so through ongoing funding from the provincial government. The goal is to help businesses reduce their water use, so they can sustain business operations and build resilience. Nearly 400 businesses received direct assistance from GreenCape during just over 15-month period (June 2017–August 2018), drawing also on expertise and support from the CoCT and WCG officials where required. GreenCape also develops various materials to support businesses including, industry briefs, best practice case studies, an online drought support webpage and annual Market Intelligence Reports.

The Green Outcomes Fund

Through a partnership officially signed on 31 January 2020 between National Treasury’s Jobs Fund and GreenCape, the Green Outcomes Fund (GOF) provides outcomes-based matched (concessional) funding to local investment funds (our Catalytic Finance Partners) to support investments into local SMMEs that make a demonstrable contribution to South Africa’s green economy, as well as job and enterprise creation in priority impact areas.


The Atlantis skills development programme aims to empower residents and young people of Atlantis with valuable skills, so that they are able to access potential employment opportunities created by the growth of the Atlantis Special Economic Zone. The programme was developed in consultation with various stakeholders in Atlantis, including current investors in the ASEZ. An audit of local skills has helped GreenCape map current and projected skills demand, which has closely guides the ongoing skills work in Atlantis.

Annually published Market Intelligence Reports

GreenCape’s annual Market Intelligence Reports (MIRs), developed in partnership with the Western Cape Government’s Department of Economic Development and Tourism, highlight the investment opportunities in key sectors of the green economy.

GreenCape is currently the secretariat for the South African Plastics Pact, as well as the coordinator of the development of the South African Renewable Energy Masterplan.

Recently, a formal memorandum of understanding has been signed with the Mpumalanga Department of Economic Development and Tourism to collaborate on using a cluster approach to build a green economy in Mpumalanga, commencing from October 2020.

Global relevance

International Cleantech Network

GreenCape is the only African member of the International Cleantech Network. Through this global network of leading global cleantech clusters, there are various opportunities to connect local green businesses to global market opportunities. For example, GreenCape is the South African contact point to assist local cleantech companies to apply to join the Solar Impulse Foundation 1,000 Efficient Solutions Label portfolio.

Green Recovery, to build back better: Over the past few challenging months, to support a green economic recovery, GreenCape has been working with various partners during lockdown on:

  • Green SMME recovery (safeguarding jobs and supporting business recovery through mobilising direct international relief funding and collaborating nationally and internationally on policy levers for green SMME recovery)
  • International trade competitiveness (supporting investment promotion and highlighting South Africa as the green economy hub of Africa)
  • Sustainable infrastructure opportunity development (supporting public and private infrastructure resilience across energy, water and the circular economy)
  • Alternative service delivery (supporting service delivery resilience and promoting citizen empowerment)
  • Green finance (mapping and facilitating access to financing for some green projects and green business in South Africa)
  • Green skills development (targeted capacity building in the public and private sector)

The hopeful impact of a focussed effort to keep pursuing the vision of a thriving prosperous Africa mobilised by the green economy. Solutions implementation, guided by strong values, is the key to ensure green economic growth – to move with agility from survive to adapt to thrive.

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