TRANSFORM by Unilever to fund innovative businesses in Kenya


TRANSFORM, an impact accelerator that unites corporates, donors, investors, and academics, is supporting businesses in Kenya to scale new solutions and overcome global challenges. TRANSFORM is led by Unilever, the UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Office (FCDO), and EY. It advances the development of innovative business models through a combination of grant funding, business insight, and research. TRANSFORM focuses on four key areas: water and sanitation, energy access, waste management, and health.

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. This will help reduce plastic waste and save costs for consumers. TRANSFORM also supports researchers and is working with Brink to explore the future of work for the informal economy in Kenya. This will help understand the needs and aspirations of workers in this sector and how technology can improve their livelihoods.

Research shows that TRANSFORM 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 has worked with revolutionary businesses including:

  • Taka Taka Ni Mali: A waste management company that creates over 3,800 jobs and recycles over 1,500 tonnes of waste by scaling capacity and building a digital platform to link waste collectors, aggregators, and recyclers in Kenya.
  • Kasha: An e-commerce platform that provides confidential health services for women. It expanded from Rwanda into Kenya with the support of TRANSFORM. Following that success, Kasha has attracted $21 million in investment to enable further expansion into Western Africa and South Africa.
  • Mr Green Africa: Africa’s first recycling B Corp business that develops a new model of work for waste pickers, directly improving safety, benefits, and career growth opportunities for more than 1000 people in Kenya.

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 groundbreaking 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 Professor 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.”

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