7 minute read 4 Jun 2019
Street greengrocers at night

How impact entrepreneurs are driving inclusive growth

7 minute read 4 Jun 2019

Show resources

  • Scaling impact entrepreneurship 2018 yearbook (pdf)

Discover 12 enterprises demonstrating how scaling entrepreneurship can create lasting impact for communities around the world.

Impact entrepreneurs make it their business to tackle inequality and purposefully drive progress toward the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

It’s why, for well over a decade, EY professionals have been lending their skills, knowledge and experience, on a not-for-profit basis, to help these life-changing enterprises improve their resilience, productivity and capacity for sustainable growth.

Through a new global corporate responsibility program, EY Ripples, we’re broadening the range of support we provide to impact entrepreneurs and, with it, the range of opportunities for our people to work with and be inspired by some of the most purposeful businesses on the planet.

Helping impact entrepreneurs change lives

From improving access to safe water and clean energy to using drones to boost food production, these impact entrepreneurs we feature here all share one goal in common: empowering as many people as possible to contribute to, and share in the benefits of, sustainable economic growth.

They may only be a tiny fraction of the many life-changing businesses to which EY people have
devoted hundreds of thousands of hours of service over the past year; nevertheless, even this small sample shows that the impact of their work can be felt by people all around the world.

BioFiltro plant hills

Turning waste water into a renewable asset (Photo credit: BioFiltro)


Turning waste water into a renewable asset

BioFiltro harnesses the digestive power of worms and microbes to remove up to 99% of contaminants from waste water. This process not only turns waste water into a renewable asset; it also converts contaminants into organic fertilizer and uses up to 95% less energy than traditional filtration systems. EY helped with market analysis and an expansion plan for the business, which has already successfully treated more than 30b gallons of waste water.

Easy Solar

Bringing clean, affordable energy to off-grid families in Sierra Leone

In a country with one of the lowest electrification rates in the world, Easy Solar is making solar-powered energy affordable and accessible to all by providing life-transforming products on a “rent-to-own” basis, enabled by pay-as-you-go technology. Similar models are already reaching 40m households across East Africa and South Asia. With EY support to strengthen its financial systems and processes, Easy Solar is better positioned to achieve rapid expansion across West Africa.


Equipping shopkeepers to build their businesses and improve health outcomes in low-income communities

Every1Mobile’s “U Join” platform provides business education and unlocks access to a range of services to help low-income shopkeepers improve their livelihoods. Via U Join, those shopkeepers can sign up customers to a loyalty club, through which they receive SMS-based e-vouchers for discounted health and hygiene products. EY helped Every1Mobile develop a commercially sustainable model to scale across 11 cities in 3 countries.

Eyes in the Sky, Smart Techs on the Ground

Advancing next-generation agriculture in the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States

From mapping and surveying to yield estimations and crop management advice, drone technology can provide a range of services that support a sustainable path to food and nutrition security. EY assessment of 26 startup drone operators involved in this project, supported by the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation, could make a substantial difference. As well as boosting agricultural productivity, their success could also create new employment opportunities that offer educated rural youth an alternative to migration.

Hello Paisa shopkeeper smiling

Reducing the cost of migrant remittances from South Africa

Hello Paisa

Reducing the cost of migrant remittances from South Africa

Hello Paisa provides an international remittance service that allows low-income migrants to send money to their families via mobile phone, at a fraction of the time and cost of traditional services. EY professionals provided support to improve the effectiveness of its customer help desk and support function, which will, in turn, help Hello Paisa reach its ambition of serving 1.5m customers by 2019.

Hello Tractor

Boosting agricultural livelihoods in Africa

Effectively “Uber for tractors,” Hello Tractor’s app links tractor owners with smallholder farmers, providing affordable access to the machinery they need to boost their productivity and incomes. EY support to strengthen financial management and improve digital sales will help Hello Tractor scale a business that’s already been proven to increase farmers’ yields by 200%, and that could help bring millions of hectares of uncultivated land into production.

Kaah International Microfinance Services (KIMS)

Financing inclusive growth in Somalia

KIMS provides affordable loans and business skills training to its customers, many of whom are low-income women and returning refugees. Since its foundation in 2014, it has provided over US$11m in financing, contributing to the creation of more than 8,000 jobs. With EY support to develop a blueprint and implementation plan for rapid growth, it aims to have provided cumulative financing of US$55m to 40,000 micro and small enterprises by 2021, stimulating creation of a further 30,000 jobs.


Scaling non-sewered sanitation in Kenya

Already franchising clean toilets across 11 slums in Nairobi, Sanergy is targeting an active network of 4,700 toilets by 2020, providing affordable access to dignified sanitation for more than 180,000 urban residents. With EY support to demonstrate the cost-effectiveness and scalability of its model, Sanergy aims to persuade the Nairobi County government to pilot larger scale adoption of non-sewered sanitation through a public private partnership with the city.

drip assist IV fluids monitor

Realizing the life-saving potential of safe IV drug administration in emerging markets (Photo credit: Shift Labs)

Shift Labs

Realizing the life-saving potential of safe IV drug administration in emerging markets

Shift Labs’ award-winning DripAssist Infusion Rate Monitor is a low-cost device that enables clinicians to safely administer intravenous drugs in any environment. EY supported the business by developing a unit economics model that could help identify areas for strategic and operational improvements, and strengthen its value proposition. With 10m unmonitored infusions performed worldwide every day, realizing the full potential of DripAssist could improve millions of lives.

Social Impact Factory (SIF)

Accelerating social entrepreneurship in the Netherlands

SIF is accelerating the movement toward social entrepreneurship in the Netherlands. It already connects around 300 social enterprises with public and private sector organizations to help co-develop and implement entrepreneurial answers to social problems. Aided by EY support to
improve its financial management, it can strengthen its support for this growing network and help drive greater social impact.


Bringing safe water, clean hands and toilets to children in Asia and Africa

Tackling the disproportionate effect of the global water crisis on children, Splash provides safe drinking water, hygiene programs and improved sanitation in schools, shelters, hospitals and orphanages. EY helped develop a business plan for the production and sale of a new generation of plastic drinking and handwashing stations that will be more durable, easier to transport and store, and more cost efficient to scale. This will aid the continued growth of an operation on track to impact the lives of one million children by 2023.

Tiger Toilets

Bringing safer sanitation to India

An ingenious answer to the problems of poor safety, bad odor and groundwater contamination that blight traditional pit latrine design, Tiger Toilets use tiger worms to digest solid waste and convert it into small amounts of safe “vermicompost.” With EY support to define unit economics and a model for scaling the business, Tiger Toilets aims to increase sales ten-fold, helping to drive major improvements in sanitation and public health across rural communities.

Creating an even bigger ripple

As these examples show, impact entrepreneurs are coming up with some of the best ideas and boldest actions for tackling inequality. That’s why, alongside immersive projects with individual enterprises, we’re also seeking new ways to connect with more of these outstanding innovators and share the benefit of our skills, knowledge and experience.


2018 saw the continuation of a series of webinars, presented by EY in association with leading impact investors and social entrepreneurship networks Toniic, Acumen, Echoing Green and the Aspen Network of Development Entrepreneurs . Combining advice on overcoming common barriers to growth with tangible examples of leading impact entrepreneurs who have done it, these webcasts attracted almost 1,500 attendees from more than 100 countries.

Business clinics

Building on existing initiatives in Colombia, the Netherlands and the UK, 2018 also saw EY pilot new business clinics with impact enterprises in the US. Likewise focused on common topics of interest and barriers to growth ― spanning business improvement, risk management, tax and financial planning ― these intensive one-day workshops are designed to bring together groups of impact entrepreneurs, offering a combination of practical training, peer discussion, and individual and group mentoring.

Thought leadership

Where possible, EY continues to translate lessons learned from individual projects into insights that can help accelerate the growth of entire sectors. A joint report from EY and Unilever, How can a trickle become a torrent? (pdf) is a prime example. Launched at World Water Week in August 2018, it offers guidance for building truly sustainable Safe Water Enterprises with the potential to make safe drinking water affordable to millions more people.


Impact entrepreneurs are coming up with some of the best ideas and boldest actions for tackling inequality. Through our new global corporate responsibility program, EY Ripples, we’re broadening the range of support we provide to their life-changing businesses.