To help tackle the world's big social, environmental and economic issues, we must go beyond what we can achieve in our own operations and with our suppliers.
One way we’re extending our reach is through TRANSFORM, an initiative that brings together business, government and civil society, to leverage their respective strengths.
We set up TRANSFORM in 2015 – with the UK’s Department for International Development – to support innovative social enterprises that meet the needs of low-income households in developing countries.
By offering financial and business support to these social enterprises, TRANSFORM aims to enable up to 100 million people in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia access products and services that improve their health, livelihoods, environment or wellbeing by 2025.
TRANSFORM is currently supporting over 45 projects across 11 countries, which have reached more than a million people so far.
And now, with the world-class capabilities and reach of two additional organisations – EY and Mastercard – we can do even more.
EY has joined to further its long-standing commitment to impact entrepreneurs and to help their businesses scale equitable access to vital goods and services.
Mastercard brings its network, digital technology and expertise to advance commercially sustainable impact and to put more people on a path from poverty to prosperity.
Additional capabilities already making their mark
Our support to Every1Mobile is a good example of where these additional capabilities are already making their mark.
With TRANSFORM’s support, Every1Mobile created its U Join digital platform, which helps duka owners in Kenya build business skills that will allow them to promote and expand their offering better. A ‘duka’ is a small general store that serves a local community, usually owned and run by a single person or family. They are essential components of last-mile delivery: responsible for 80% of consumer goods sales. Unilever currently trades with over 60,000 dukas.
With additional TRANSFORM funding, Every1Mobile launched an e-learning project to develop duka owners’ financial literacy in partnership with Mastercard’s Jaza Duka programme, which provides access to credit for low-income retailers. Based on content provided by Mastercard, the project delivered courses and tools to U Join and Jaza Duka shopkeepers to test whether increased knowledge about financial concepts resulted in greater uptake of Jaza Duka credit. It had a very positive impact on shopkeepers’ knowledge, use and confidence of financial concepts, digital solutions and credit.
As well as U Join, which targets informal FMCG shopkeepers in Kenya, Every1Mobile has also set up NaijaCare, a similar platform aimed at informal pharmacies in Nigeria. TRANSFORM supports both projects. The potential for these platforms is huge. Leveraging the expertise of EY, business modelling estimates that together they could be worth $43 million by 2023, based on reaching 8 million consumers across 11 cities.
“Some of the best ideas and boldest actions are coming from entrepreneurs and start-ups,” says Unilever’s Chief Sustainability Officer, Rebecca Marmot. “These disruptors are driving innovations and new business models to create the momentum the economy needs. TRANSFORM can unlock these opportunities and help to scale workable solutions, to build a brighter future for all.”
TRANSFORM in action
TRANSFORM partners with social businesses that address a range of low-income household needs from water, sanitation and hygiene, to health, livelihoods, energy and the environment. Here’s a closer look at some of our projects.