The TRANSFORM: Utilities Sanitation Challenge

TRANSFORM – a joint initiative between Unilever, DFID and EY – is offering support to water utilities in sub-Saharan Africa to develop innovative ideas to meet the sanitation needs of underserved consumers in urban areas.

We are calling for applications from pioneering water utilities and their partners to create proposals for innovative, scalable urban sanitation solutions. Two successful applicants will be awarded a budget of up to £250,000 in funding, in addition to in-kind support from Unilever and EY over a 12-18 month period.


TRANSFORM is a unique joint impact initiative between Unilever, DFID and EY. To improve the lives of low-income households, we blend funding and expert support to deliver market-based solutions to the world’s biggest development challenges. We have supported 50 social enterprises in 11 countries.

All three organisations have an ambition to tap into private sector creativity and scalable commercial approaches to solve difficult development challenges.

TRANSFORM contributes to Unilever’s mission to make sustainable living commonplace, DFID’s goal to promote sustainable development and eliminate world poverty, and EY’s mission to accelerate the growth of impact enterprises and build a better working world.

Who can apply?

We encourage joint applications from utilities with their partners (NGOs, academics, consultants, and funders) based in Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Nigeria, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. The funding can be divided between the partners, but the lead applicant must be a utility.

We encourage applications that include women in their key implementation team.

Why should I apply?

Are you an innovator in sanitation? Would you like support to bring new ideas to life that meet the sanitation needs of underserved consumers? Let us provide funding and guidance to springboard your ideas with our support, capabilities and networks.

We believe that utilities are key organisations with the necessary relationships, organisational capabilities and infrastructure to lead the way in sanitation for all. Utilities are well placed to innovate and lead on creating on-site commercial sanitation solutions that people will use, leading to cleaner, healthier communities. 

How to apply

To apply, utilities and collaborators must submit an application presenting an innovative, scalable urban sanitation business model or idea. The deadline for applications is 16 March at 9pm GMT.

Download the application here; email completed applications to You will receive an email confirming receipt.

Applications will be selected by 30 March, 9pm GMT with a request to submit a full proposal with a budget and timeline by 13 April, 9pm GMT. Please find the scoring criteria here.

Two challenge winners will be notified by 30 April, 9pm GMT with full/quarterly/monthly funding dispersal beginning on 25 May.

You can find more information here.

Please email us any further questions.


17/02/2020 to 16/03/2020

No applications in collaboration for this challenge

Open Challenge

In this ongoing Open Challenge, we are looking for inspiring solutions that fit within any one of TRANSFORM’s five thematic pillars. Do you have an idea that solves a challenge in one of these areas?

  • Sanitation & Hygiene - sustainable sanitation solutions for the poor by improving marketing and demand creation.
  • Water - solutions that improve access to, and consumption of, safe water through brand reach, behaviour change and technology.
  • Health & Wellbeing - digitally-enabled businesses that address multiple health and wellbeing needs by promoting supply and demand, with a focus on women and youth.
  • Rural Livelihoods - working across rural value chains to test new business models and generate insights to improve rural lives and livelihoods through entrepreneurship.
  • Energy & Environment - businesses that improve the environment, health and livelihoods of low-income communities.

The solutions should tackle a challenge in a genuinely innovative way. They should involve delivering products or services that target low-income communities in one of TRANSFORM’s priority countries in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, and be ready to be tested for scaling up.

There should also be clear plans in place for future financial sustainability of the project, with the potential to reach scale by 2025. The social enterprises we support must test something specific that is relevant to one of TRANSFORM’s partners, and have inspiring leadership and appropriate in-country resources. Successful applicants will also happily share their learnings for the public good.


27/06/2019 to 01/01/2020

No applications in collaboration for this challenge