Unilever’s TRANSFORM accelerator picks 15 impact enterprises in East Africa for funding and business support

TRANSFORM, an impact accelerator that unites corporates, donors, investors, and academics to support visionary enterprises, has announced plans to support businesses in Kenya to scale new solutions and overcome global challenges.

Led by Unilever, the UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Office (FCDO), and EY, TRANSFORM advances the development of innovative business models through a combination of grant funding, business insight, and research to help solve global challenges.

TRANSFORM is now focused on accelerating its impact, with the ambitious goal of reaching an additional five million lives across the next two years. In addition to the support given to the existing projects by entrepreneurs and researchers, it has announced support for fifteen new projects since January, with each receiving a tailor-made combination of funding and business support.

One of the new enterprises in East Africa will test the use of refill technology with Unilever products in low-income communities in Kenya. TRANSFORM also supports researchers and is working with Brink to explore the future of work for the informal economy in Kenya.

Research shows it has positively impacted over one million people in East Africa out of the 10 million people across Africa and Asia.

Since its launch in Kenya in 2015, TRANSFORM is working with revolutionary businesses including supporting:

  • Taka Taka Ni Mali to create over 3,800 jobs and recycle over 1,500 tonnes of wealth by scaling capacity and building a digital platform to link waste collectors, aggregators, and recyclers in Kenya;
  • Kasha to expand its confidential health services from Rwanda into Kenya, so more women can access the products they need. Following that success, Kasha has attracted $21 million in investment to enable further expansion into Western Africa and South Africa; and
  • Africa’s first recycling B Corp business, Mr Green Africa, to develop a new model of work for waste pickers, directly improving safety, benefits, and career growth opportunities for more than 1,000 people in Kenya.

So far, TRANSFORM has supported over 100 projects in 17 countries.

Rebecca Marmot, Unilever’s Chief Sustainability Officer, said: “We’re thrilled to have reached such an important milestone at TRANSFORM.  Some of the best new ideas and ground-breaking solutions are coming from entrepreneurs and start-ups. By blending local innovation with the resources of large organizations, TRANSFORM is unlocking these opportunities, helping to scale workable solutions and drive progress. It’s also helping us to expand our own networks. We look forward to supporting more enterprises in the future and being part of this dynamic eco-system.”

Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office Chief Scientific Adviser Prof Charlotte Watts, said: “This is a major milestone for this innovative project, which is offering targeted support to ambitious entrepreneurs and innovators across sub-Saharan Africa and Asia. As this cutting-edge initiative enters the next phase, the UK will continue to work in partnership with business and civil society to tackle the world’s biggest social, environmental, and economic challenges.”

Richard Taylor, EY’s UK&I Consumer Sector Leader, said: “TRANSFORM further demonstrates our shared belief that impact entrepreneurs will be critical in driving progress towards the UN SDGs. We hope that more organizations will feel inspired to join the TRANSFORM initiative and help us transform more lives.”

TRANSFORM is an impact accelerator that unites corporates, donors, investors, and academics to support visionary enterprises. Together, it tests and scales new solutions that support low-income households by tackling environmental challenges, improving health and wellbeing, and building inclusive economies. It combines grant funding, business insight, practical experience, resources, and networks. TRANSFORM is based on a desire to address urgent issues by learning from each other. TRANSFORM was established in 2015 and led by Unilever, the UK’s Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office, and EY.


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