Case Study
The better the question The better the answer The better the world works
Case Study

Working together to TRANSFORM lives

Impact entrepreneurs in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia are being disrupted by COVID-19. TRANSFORM is helping them survive and thrive.

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The better the question

How do you grow well to grow good?

TRANSFORM supports impact entrepreneurs in improving the lives of millions. The EY organization joined in 2017 to help entrepreneurs to scale efficiently.

One hundred million people across sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia will have new access to life-enhancing products and services by 2025. That’s the goal of TRANSFORM: a collaboration founded by Unilever and the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID, now part of the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development office) that supports impact entrepreneurs in improving the lives of low-income households. Impact entrepreneurs use new technologies and creative business models to meet the needs of underserved communities. Critically, because their ventures are market-based, they are usually more sustainable and scalable than donor-funded ones.

When Unilever and DFID founded TRANSFORM in 2015, they combined complementary strengths. Unilever brought world-leading consumer-goods expertise (its products reach some 2 billion people every day) and DFID brought public-sector resources and sustainable-development experience. As TRANSFORM gained momentum, it recognized the need to bring in new expertise: guidance for entrepreneurs on how to scale efficiently. To meet this need, EY professionals began supporting enterprises in the TRANSFORM portfolio in 2017 and the EY organization was invited to join the TRANSFORM executive committee in 2019.

Rural farmer using digital tablet in field in Asia
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The better the answer

As impact entrepreneurs scale, they transform lives at scale

EY teams work with impact entrepreneurs as they would with a commercial client. The dynamic is professional-service provider and paying client.

EY teams work with impact entrepreneurs just as they would a large commercial client – offering the same methodologies, skills and experience – but with a significant difference. The EY organization charges a flat rate of US$75 per day: an affordable rate but substantial enough to preserve the relationship dynamic of a professional-service provider and paying client. Opportunities to work on TRANSFORM projects are available through EY global corporate responsibility platform, EY Ripples, and are quickly oversubscribed – with EY teams working on TRANSFORM accounts gaining valuable life and work experience.

As these enterprises scale, they transform lives at scale. In Bangladesh, Jeeon helps to get vital supplies to remote rural pharmacies (and 4 million underserved patients) through its digital platform and aims to reach every pharmacy in the country next year. Zayohub, in Zambia, is providing solar-powered community hubs that offer access to services (including renewable energy and the internet) and provide secure storage for agricultural equipment. It aims to grow from seven hubs to 40 by 2027, generating economic returns for its communities of over US$6 million per year.

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The better the world works

Building on this foundation to build resilience

As impact enterprises came under threat with COVID-19, TRANSFORM built a new digital platform to help them survive and thrive.

In response, TRANSFORM quickly built TRANSFORM Survive & Thrive – a collaborative platform designed to support any impact enterprise in building resilience in the face of COVID-19. It includes tools and resources from contributing partners and a collaboration hub to connect impact entrepreneurs to each other for opportunities and advice. TRANSFORM is also actively looking for new public, private and non-profit contributing partners to expand what’s on offer and enhance TRANSFORM Survive & Thrive's impact.

In this way, TRANSFORM aims to digitize its offering, further grow its network, and – just like the entrepreneurs it supports – expand the scale, reach, and impact of its work.

TRANSFORM Survive & Thrive platform 

Learn more about TRANSFORM and access and/or contribute to the platform.


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