Ubuntu Power

Off‐grid solar power and internet provision

Ubuntu Power provides solar power and unrestricted internet to off grid communities, both peri-urban and more remote rural areas, in Sub-Saharan Africa. The innovation lies in combining both the power and internet provision together into one central system and using the revenue from the community’s mobile usage and mast rental to fund the electricity generation and community services.

The system will provide affordable 24/7 electricity and unrestricted internet to institutions and village residents, and will serve a minimum of 250 households on average. The hubs will also contain LED lights, which provide street lighting, optional TV screens and dedicated space within the hub can be used for other beneficial community services.

TRANSFORM will support Ubuntu Power to roll‐out its first community solar hub in Kenya. Specifically, TRANSFORM will support Ubuntu Power by providing funding that will allow for the creation and full analysis of the pilot.

It will allow for quicker scale and help Ubuntu Power become completely self-sustainable thereby expanding across Kenya and into additional countries. In addition, having access to the TRANSFORM partner’s expertise in supply chain, distribution network, and regional knowledge will be pivotal in the successful deployment of the initial cluster of power generators.

Over the next five years, Ubuntu Power aims to grow the organisation to positively impact over 1 million beneficiaries in Kenya. Learnings from the pilot in Kenya will test assumptions for creating a viable model for scale that can subsequently be scaled to other countries.

Juan Herrada, Founder and CEO of Ubuntu Power said, “We are proud to be part of the TRANSFORM programme and work together with Unilever and DFID on our pilot. Their support and expertise have been pivotal in our deployment and we look forward to driving towards our shared social mission of providing widespread access to affordable and reliable renewable energy and connectivity across Kenya. ”

Sunlight Water Centres

Sunlight Water Centres

Sunlight Water Centres are working in communities across Nigeria to provide access to clean, affordable and accessible household water. A Sunlight Water Centre integrates a motorised solar-powered bore hole which pumps clean water with a kiosk selling consumer goods and services, with the purpose of creating sustainable water access.

Each Sunlight Water Centres is run by a female woman entrepreneur who owns and runs the retail centre that produces, stores and sells clean water alongside other everyday products, such as food and toiletries. The centres also provide services like mobile phone charging and mobile banking, and entrepreneurs often become ambassadors for behaviour change in their communities. The retail model helps to cross-subsidise water that is sold at affordable rates and creates a profitable business venture. As a result, the women owner-operators and their community equity partners have a real incentive to maintain the boreholes long into the future.

Ten Sunlight Water Centres across ten distinct peri-urban locations in Nigeria were operational in 2016 and the project has ambitions to scale to 1,000 centres across Nigeria over the next 10 years. TRANSFORM committed £300,000 over one year to carry out a comprehensive technical assistance programme to refine a viable commercial proposition to take the Sunlight Water Centre model to scale.

Sunlight Water Centre has already benefited over 11,000 beneficiaries. In addition to promoting better health through safer water, this creates a positive economic ripple effect. By spending less time and money to collect water, women in the village can pursue other economic opportunities.

Barbara Ryl, the Sunlight Water Centre Team Leader, said, “TRANSFORM has been instrumental in driving and strengthening the Sunlight Water Centres in Nigeria in 2016, bringing clean and affordable water to water-scarce villages.

With help of Technoserve, as well as expertise and funds coming from TRANSFORM, we managed to further scale up the initiative in Nigeria, and throughout 2016 the operating model has been refined to minimize CAPEX and maximize financial and social impact. The Centres have been also closely monitored so that we have collected a vast set of valuable data that help us understand what really works and what doesn’t.

It is great to see people who understood social problems collaborate and help each other. Thanks to TRANSFORM the Sunlight Water Centre project team came up with really high-calibre and tangible on-the-ground activities which bring us closer to solving yet another problem while truly changing the lives of individuals.”

Link to Technoserve blog:



Incubating clean energy distribution enterprises in the last mile

ENVenture is an incubator that empowers rural community based organisations (CBO) in Uganda to learn business skills to launch their own sustainable enterprises selling high-impact clean energy products. Through leveraging existing community structures, ENVenture opens up distribution channels through innovative financing for locally-run sustainable enterprises, which allows low-income consumers to access clean energy technologies.

Focused on solar products, improved cookstoves, briquettes, and water filters, ENVenture upskills CBOs to become last mile distributors that build markets for clean energy products.

ENVenture works with CBOs to enable them to set up shops in their localities, thereby also creating livelihoods for locals, as well as increasing the revenue base for the CBO’s ongoing charitable work. It does this through a dedicated capacity-building curriculum delivered through a series of bootcamps and one-to-one advisory services through its Business Development Fellows programme.

TRANSFORM is supporting ENVenture to formalise its Uganda operations and to test the model with 50 CBO partners over the course of the project’s duration.

Specifically, TRANSFORM has supported the establishment of a dedicated in-country team and the capitalisation of a revolving loan fund to provide loans to CBOs with the start-up capital needed to establish their enterprises. To further support the success of the last-mile distribution model, ENVenture will develop and test a mobile app to allow shopkeepers to better track their sales and orders.

Over the next five years, ENVenture aims to grow the organisation’s footprint to work with 250 CBOs across Uganda, impacting an estimated 750,000 beneficiaries. Learnings from the pilot in Uganda will test assumptions for creating a viable model for scale that can subsequently be scaled to other countries.

Aneri Pradhan, Founder and Executive Director of ENVenture said, “TRANSFORM is a really remarkable program that encourages the testing of new early-stage distribution models to reach low-income consumers. TRANSFORM understands that innovation is truly needed on the delivery of new technologies, not just the design. ENVenture is thrilled to leverage the expertise that Unilever has to offer on distribution, as well as the support from the UK’s Department For International Development.”


Service-delivery innovation – Bundling hand washing services alongside in-home toilets to low income consumers

Sanivation is a sanitation service provider, dedicated to improving the overall dignity, health and environment of urbanising communities in East Africa through delivering clean, safe, and efficient sanitation and hygiene products and services. Currently, Sanivation installs modern and portable toilets inside people’s homes for free, and charges a monthly fee to service them twice a week. The waste is collected, treated and transformed into affordable and environmentally sustainable sources of fuel.

Sanivation and TRANSFORM are working together to evolve Sanivation’s proposition, to include hand washing stations with the in-home toilet provision. This allows Sanivation to tap into its existing network of toilet service representatives, its brand and the team’s experience in deploying service delivery models to promote hand washing. The aim of the partnership is to institute hand washing as the normal behaviour after visiting the toilet.

TRANSFORM will support Sanivation by connecting them to potential suppliers of hand washing stations, as well as supporting them to optimise logistics and servicing practices. This partnership offers the opportunity to improve hand washing practice, as well as improve client satisfaction with Sanivation’s service, bolstering Sanivation’s business success. By utilising Sanivation’s existing networks, the partnership could present the opportunity to discount prices for soap, making the hand washing add-on more readily available and affordable to low-income consumers.

Sanivation will reach one million people in the next five years, and the hand washing station may be proposed alongside the standard offering. By demonstrating the commercial success of the model, other last-mile distributors will be able to replicate the approach, promoting a step change in hand washing access and practice.

Andrew Foote, CEO and Co-founder of Sanivation, said, “It is a pleasure for Sanivation to collaborate with the TRANSFORM team on this proposition. The invaluable insights we are gaining on service logistics optimization and evaluation metrics are critical to ensuring a successful execution of bundled handwashing products with our in-home toilets. It is our hope that with these insights, we can continue to scale this program and provide a cost-effective product to improve hygiene for our clients.”


Energy for all: Mobile technology‐enabled financing for d.light solar home systems in Kenya

d.light's proposal is for a solar home system (SHS) that allows people to move from Tier 1 to Tier 2 energy access to achieve a new level of energy access and quality of life. Many off‐grid Africans spend more than the price of a SHS on kerosene and mobile charging each year, yet cannot afford to pay upfront to purchase a SHS. This upfront cost affordability barrier will be solved using d.light’s proprietary pay-as-you-go (PAYG) technology, enabling the customer to make a modest down payment and recurring payments that are equivalent to their current energy spending. After a period of 1-3 years, depending on rate of repayment, the customer will have full ownership of the SHS.

d.light will hire 34 full-time employees and 300 commission agents with a target of a minimum of 50% women for commission agents, sales managers, and call centre agents. The Tier 2 levels of energy generated from the SHS will also allow local entrepreneurs to use the system to power an existing enterprise or to start a new business.

TRANSFORM will support d.light to supply its solar home system to thousands of direct beneficiaries in Kenya by the end of 2017. Specifically, TRANSFORM will support d.light by providing funding for the staff, marketing, call centre and training costs of the establishment of the financial accessibility offering. This funding will also secure the required proof points to attract debt capital to scale the d.light’s financing offering.

Over the next five years, d.light aims to impact more than 150 million lives globally and a large part of this will come from Kenya through its PAYG offering. Learnings from the pilot in Kenya will test assumptions for creating a viable business model for scale that can subsequently be scaled to other countries.

Kamal Lath, CFO, d.light said, “We're excited to partner with TRANSFORM to increase energy access in Kenya and this project will be very critical for d.light in terms of testing a new product innovation in one of our key markets globally”.

“We are thankful to TRANSFORM for the grant which will enable families in Kenya living on less than $1.25 per day to access affordable, clean solar lighting. The funding will enable d.light to support families make their homes healthier, safer and more productive environments.” said d.light CEO and co-founder Ned Tozun.


Affordable and engaging handwashing solution for low-income households

The HappyTap is a mass-manufactured portable sink purpose built for low-income communities. It is an aspirational, yet affordable solution that not only enables access to handwashing infrastructure but, more importantly, encourages behaviour change. Despite high-levels of knowledge and awareness about hand hygiene in developing countries, the rate of hand washing is very low, estimated at 6% in Vietnam and 2% in Bangladesh.

HappyTap is manufactured and distributed by HappyTap Ltd., a social business headquartered in Vietnam. The product is designed to remove structural barriers that prevent people, especially children and their caregivers, from habitually washing their hands with soap. It brings water and soap together to make handwashing more convenient, accessible, and fun.

HappyTap presents a compelling opportunity to bridge the gap between knowledge and practice, consolidating the awareness raised by mass campaigns and transforming it into practice. HappyTap Co. also aims to improve livelihood opportunities for women, empowering them as entrepreneurs and sales agents.

TRANSFORM is partnering with HappyTap Ltd. to expand on its initial success in Vietnam to Bangladesh.

TRANSFORM support will help HappyTap recruit key staff, conduct market research, deliver a multi-channel marketing campaign, scale-up distribution, and investigate further regional expansion. TRANSFORM will also look to optimise the HappyTap as a platform for integrated behaviour change.

HappyTap has a target market of twelve million households in Bangladesh and aims to reach over 8,000 Base of Pyramid consumers in the first year of the project. With an ambitious scale-up plan in Bangladesh, the partnership hopes to directly impact 230,000 people and indirectly impact 700,000 people in the first four years. HappyTap’s long term vision is to enable two million people to consistently wash their hands within five years across Asia.

“Bangladesh is an exciting market for a portable sink like HappyTap,” said Geoff Revell, HappyTap CEO. “The country has made incredible progress in sanitation, reaching nearly universal coverage. But there has been little progress in handwashing. Without proper handwashing, diarrhoea and other infectious diseases will continue to be major public health issues. By partnering with TRANSFORM, HappyTap will have the resources and partners needed to make a real difference.”

Chase, C., & Do, Q. T. (2012). Handwashing behavior change at scale: evidence from a randomized evaluation in Vietnam. World Bank Policy Research Working Paper, (6207).
Icddb,r (2008). Health and Science Bulletin. Hand washing Behavior in Rural Bangladesh. Sep;6(3):21­24

D2D Pro

Upskilling door-to-door sales agents to sell high-impact products to low-income households

The D2D Pro project aims to develop a support package for door-to-door (D2D) sales agents in low-income countries. D2D Pro provides training that gives sales agents the skills and knowledge to expand their basket of goods to sell high-impact pay-as-you-go (PAYG) solar lamps and other impact durables to their consumer base. This innovative training and credit access combination improves the capacity and livelihoods of the sales agents, and allows low-income households to access impact products. Furthermore, it aims to strengthen existing agent-based networks and deliver more frequent high-touch interactions at consumers’ homes.

TRANSFORM is partnering with Base of the Pyramid Innovation Center (BoPInc) to develop and pilot D2D Pro. In a ‘proof of concept’ study, BoPInc will train existing female entrepreneurs in Nigeria to sell and collect payments for solar lights, as well as providing after-sales support to the customers. In its first year, 30 agents will be trained reaching an estimated 3,000 households and 15,000 individuals.

If successful, D2D Pro could be applied to many agent-based networks and to a range of high-impact products. Over five years, D2D Pro has the potential to reach 10,000 sales agents, giving one million households access to life enhancing durables.

Emile Schmitz – BoP Innovation Center says “TRANSFORM enables us to bring our distribution concept into reality by leveraging the capabilities of Unilever and other partners like CGEP. TRANSFORM is distinctive from other programs by being highly agile and enabling us to pivot where needed in the early stages of inclusive innovation and business modelling.”

Mercy Corps

Improving livelihoods through the sales and distribution of affordable and clean cook stoves to underserved communities

Mercy Corps created the Myanmar Stoves Campaign (MSC), with support from the Soneva Foundation, to deliver clean and efficient cook stoves to rural households in Myanmar, a country that suffers from widespread poverty and lack of access to clean energy. MSC empowers women and youth by enabling them to become entrepreneurs that scale up the sales and distribution of these affordable, clean cook stoves to underserved communities. Clean cook stoves reduce wood consumption by 50% and cooking time by 60%, giving low-income households, particularly women, opportunities to improve their education, nutrition and livelihoods.

In its next phase, Mercy Corps will recruit and support at least 200 qualified women and youth to start microenterprises selling clean cook stoves. MCS will provide on-going business coaching and facilitate peer-peer sharing. 18 townships will be targeted in six geographic locations. Field teams will actively focus on community and government engagement to promote clean cook stoves, and organise stove demonstrations to raise awareness. Carbon credits will be assigned to each cook stove, subsidising the cost of the cook stoves to the end consumer. Through partners and sales agents, customers are offered instalment options to buy the stoves.

TRANSFORM is supporting Mercy Corps to optimise the last-mile distribution of the clean cook stoves. Specifically, the partnership will test

three distribution models; direct sales, market facilitation and partnerships.

TRANSFORM will also fund an awareness campaign and support with the upskilling of women and youth entrepreneurs by providing sales support and customer service training.

MSC aims to reach 50,000 people each year in Myanmar. Initially, sales and distribution will be concentrated in the Dry Zone which has suffered from extensive environmental degradation and desertification due to intense fuel wood cultivation. With demonstrated success in improving livelihoods and access to clean energy, this model has the potential to expand regionally in the future.

Drew Johnson, Programme Director – Market Development, at Mercy Corps comments, “In Myanmar, 84 per cent of the rural population lacks access to electricity and relies on biomass fuel for cooking and heating water. This places enormous pressure on forests, produces large amounts of greenhouse gas emissions, and creates a harmful environment for family health. TRANSFORM is helping Mercy Corps to scale our energy project that supports women entrepreneurs to sell energy efficient clean cookstoves in rural communities. With the expertise of the Unilever team and our program partnerships, we hope to expand our program to reach even more families and have greater impact.”


Demand generation for hygienic sanitation in Nairobi’s urban slums

Sanergy builds healthy, prosperous communities by making safe sanitation, accessible and affordable for everyone, forever - starting with the urban slums of Nairobi, Kenya. To achieve this, they go beyond simply providing access to toilets, and ensure that human waste is safely removed from the community and then treated and converted into valuable agricultural end-products, such as organic fertilizer and animal feed for Kenyan farmers.

Sanergy’s franchise network of high-quality, low-cost sanitation facilities – Fresh Life Toilets - are operated by local residents who purchase and operate them, either as small businesses or as a value-add service to their customers (such as tenants in the residential context or students at schools). They receive ongoing marketing, business and maintenance support, ensuring they run a good business and that toilets stay clean and safe for residents of slums.

TRANSFORM is supporting a research project to help Sanergy understand the most effective demand generation strategies to extend their model to a new informal settlement, Mathare. The research enhances the understanding of how to build habits around toilet usage through a pilot project testing an innovative sanitation delivery model and a new pricing model.

TRANSFORM funds the cost of project personnel, sales and marketing materials for interventions and training costs. Through the support provided from TRANSFORM, Sanergy is providing new insights on how to provide high quality sanitation for the underserved urban poor. This research on demand generation will hopefully enable Sanergy to scale up its financially sustainable urban sanitation model to new informal settlements in Kenya and other emerging market cities experiencing the urban sanitation crisis.

Lindsay Stradley, Executive Director of Sanergy, says “TRANSFORM’s support is essential to implement our innovative pilot project in a new area of Nairobi but also to be part of a strong community of exciting entrepreneurs. We really value all the opportunities we’ve had to attend training, workshops and events!”


E-commerce platform for women’s health and personal care products in Rwanda and Kenya

Kasha is a widely-accessible mobile e-commerce and content platform in Rwanda that sells and delivers women’s health and personal care products such as sanitary pads, contraceptives, soaps and lotions. With TRANSFORM´S support, kasha has expanded to Kenya.

Kasha’s brand is focused on women’s empowerment for health and self-care, providing direct access to quality products and information. Kasha provides a confidential ordering mechanism for the consumer, which is especially important for products and information related to social stigma such as menstruation and contraception. The Kasha platform does not require internet connectivity or a smartphone so it’s accessible to anyone with a basic mobile phone. Kasha also strives to make payment as easy as possible, optimizing for mobile money and cash on delivery which are both the preferred payment methods for consumers in East Africa.

As a technology platform, Kasha offers consumer insight by collecting and analyzing anonymous consumer-level data to deliver market insight on products, brands and preferences. Kasha’s platform reaches consumers digitally through their mobile phones as well as physically through the delivery of packages. This enables Kasha to operate as a retail and advertising channel direct to consumer.

Incentivising consumers to make regular recurring purchases for their health, hygiene and sanitation drives adoption of healthy behaviours which in turn leads to healthy women, families and communities. Since many women’s health products are needed on a monthly basis, Kasha leverages their monthly subscription model to drive regular recurring order.

By Mid-2019, kasha has delivered over 250,000 units of products and totalled over 45,000 unique costumers, with 80% of total orders coming from low- income rural women.

The first phase of TRANSFORM’s support established Kasha’s agent network in Rwanda, which has enabled community-level distribution and improved livelihoods. It has also enabled Kasha to build brand awareness and gained greater learnings in customer acquisition, customer retention and optimising unit economics. The organisation was able to build its capability for last-mile distribution in Rwanda, with over 60 Kasha agents around the country that are paid based on performance for every order delivered.

Building on the success of the first project in Rwanda, TRANSFORM is now helping to scale Kasha’s impact across Kenya to help women overcome barriers to adoption . The second project will look into optimising the distribution and agent network in Kenya, how digital financial inclusion and services can be leveraged, how to reach low-income consumers with social media and digital content, and how best to drive customer acquisition and retention.

Joanna Bichsel, CEO and Co-Founder of Kasha says, “It’s about time we started building technology solutions that optimize for women and serve their needs. Women own the household and are the key decision makers for the home in terms of health and hygiene products. They deserve to be treated better. Kasha works to ensure that all women have access to the products they need to live their best lives. Unilever has been a key partner in helping us to scale and grow Kasha’s impact and business in Rwanda and Kenya.

ICHP Myanmar

Insecticide-treated mosquito nets for low-income households

TRANSFORM partners with Kopernik on the ICHP Myanmar project to develop and test disruptive market-based solutions for improved mosquito control in Myanmar.

Addressing the high prevalence of malaria and dengue in urban and rural Myanmar, the Integrated Community and Home Protection (ICHP) programme aims to provide an innovative multi-pronged approach to help combat insect borne diseases. A range of safe and effective products, treated with World Health Organization-approved insecticide, will allow users to protect their homes and families from mosquitos.

Protection against mosquito-borne disease is patchy in many parts of Myanmar where government initiatives have not yet reached. In these parts of the country, people either use nothing at all or purchase consumer products such as sprays and coils to try and avoid mosquito bites. The ICHP program will monitor the adoption and use of alternative, highly efficacious and safe solutions for addressing the mosquito problem in homes. The project benefits from leading edge techniques developed by Unilever and its consumer understanding ecosystem in market research, consumer understanding and behavioural change.

In partnership with local partners, TRANSFORM will support Kopernik to conduct focus group discussions, home-user tests and sales simulations in targeted areas of Myanmar. Emphasis will be placed on measuring behaviour change and demonstrating a scalable model that can be replicated by other private and public partners.

Arvin Dwiarrahman (Project Lead) from Kopernik says, “ICHP assesses the potential Burmese market and develops a go-to-market model that ultimately benefits low-income households. The model is anchored by user experience and driven by data. We are glad to be part of this innovative initiative as every phase is customized based on consumer feedback.”

Colorado State University

Dynamic sensor on cookstoves to encourage and reinforce healthy behaviour change

Household air pollution accounts for nearly three million deaths annually, largely among women and children in developing countries. This projest uses a human centred design approach to identify messages and triggers that may improve households in Rwanda’s consistent and exclusive use of a propane cookstove, provided as part of a health efficacy study.

The aim of this TRANSFORM project is to assess whether dynamic sensors that provide feedback to users on household air pollution levels increase adoption of clean cooking behaviour and discourage traditional stove use. Each household has been provided with a liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) stove.

Exclusive use of LPG stoves can lead to household air pollution reductions of 90% compared to open fires or traditional stoves. However, several previous studies have shown that households often continue to use their traditional stoves in tandem with clean-burning stoves, a behaviour that significantly reduces the potentially realised improvements in health that would result from exclusive use of clean cooking technology. Consequently, there is clear justification for developing more effective approaches to encourage exclusive use of clean cooking.

PSU found through a human centred design consultation process that households may respond to messages on health and environmental impacts of cooking practices, and may be triggered by both auditory and visual feedback. Based on these insights, PSU designed and validated a system linking particulate monitoring with persistent visual feedback and a variable alarm threshold triggering an audio recording. PSU will install sensors in households in two rounds of 50 households at each round, beginning at the beginning in Q2, 2018. We will schedule households for sensor installation approximately 8 weeks after they have been enrolled in the trial to allow households to establish a stable pattern of stove use. Sensors will be left in place for a total of 16 weeks per household.

During the pre-test period, which will last a total of six weeks, the sensor will continuously monitor their LPG stove use and cooking area pollution without providing feedback to the household members. During the post-test period, which will last for 10 weeks, the household will be made aware of the presence of the sensor and it will begin alerting them when cooking area pollution levels exceed the threshold indicating traditional stove use is occurring.

This technology will be deployed in households in Rwanda in 2018, where a 12-month study is planned to evaluate the impact of active feedback on household air quality and stove use behaviour.


Innovative online communities to improve livelihoods and health in Nairobi

Every1Mobile is connecting low-income shopkeepers and consumers in urban Nairobi through digital communities, supporting them to strengthen their livelihoods and improve family health.

UJoin is a mobile-friendly online community for owners of base of the pyramid shops (dukas), helping them to build their businesses, while at the same time improving the health of their community. Through the UJoin platform, duka owners can access business and financial management courses, online mentoring, peer-to-peer forums to connect, learn and share with fellow duka owners and access product information from Unilever. They also have the ability to set up a digital shopper loyalty scheme, giving their customers access to exclusive vouchers. This exciting opportunity, made possible through a collaboration with Unilever Kenya and Vodafone, and Mezzanine has been essential in helping us expand the UJoin offering and sign up new participants. Currently, dukas who drive high levels of redemption earn free health insurance. One UJoin duka owner has said: “I have learnt how to arrange products in my shop, how to talk to my customers and how to get more customers through products on UJoin.”

Within our current scope, we have reached 500 duka owners based in the urban slums of Nairobi. Currently, our duka owners have signed up roughly 1,500 of their customers, with new customers being signed up to the loyalty scheme every day. We release vouchers on a weekly basis, and in December 2017 5,100 e-vouchers were redeemed, with 31 duka owners qualifying for free insurance. With continued support from TRANSFORM, In 2018 we intend to extend our offer to 3,000 dukas and 50,000 consumers.

In parallel to launching UJoin, Every1Mobile has piloted UAfya, a community for young mothers and mothers-to-be based near UJoin duka owners. UAfya allows these women to connect, share and learn about topics such as nutrition, hygiene and breastfeeding best practice.
The pilot, run through a combination of digital platforms and WhatsApp, brought together 50 women in a series of moderated conversations. Impact was assessed throughs surveys to measure knowledge, attitude and behaviours. Our ambition is to develop UAfya further into a holistic online community, giving young mothers across Nairobi access to online learning, peer-to-peer sharing and the opportunity to access exclusive UJoin discounts.


Connecting female health workers to underserved communities in rural Pakistan

In collaboration with TRANSFORM and Unilever Pakistan Limited, doctHERs has launched a sustainable development initiative to reach the 120 million people in rural Pakistan who lack access to affordable, quality healthcare. A gender-inclusive social business, doctHERS matches the under-utilised capacity of female doctors to the unmet needs of underserved communities.

In this project, doctHERs will upskill, equip and deploy technology-enabled frontline female Health Workers in rural villages across Punjab and Sind. These health workers will provide awareness on different women’s health issues and connect female patients to a nationwide network of female doctors, who were previously excluded and reintegrated into the workforce by doctHERs. Care is coordinated between providers, labs and pharmacies, and the interactive service will be provided via HD video-consultation using a smartphone. In fact, the whole value chain is digitised to improve quality and reduce cost, including telemedicine, digital payments and e-prescriptions.

The model was designed to be sustainable, scalable and replicable across all geographies of Pakistan, as well as other emerging markets. TRANSFORM is supporting doctHERs in validating the commercial viability and technical feasibility of its service delivery model to reach 140 million customers in the rural Pakistani market at scale. By the end of the 15-month validation-stage project, doctHERs will have directly impacted 105,000 women beneficiaries (60 women per village across 1750 villages) and indirectly impacted more than 2 million beneficiaries, including women, girls and their family members. The goal is to reintegrate 100 female healthcare providers into the Pakistani workforce, to enhance the health outcomes of half a million women from 20 districts in rural Punjab.

Spring Health

Providing safe and affordable drinking water in India

Spring Health is an organisation that delivers affordable, safe drinking water to underserved households in India. Its innovative model is based on a partnership between kiosks, called kirana shops, in small villages and incentive-based profit-sharing with local entrepreneurs. These local entrepreneurs run the kiranas under a franchising system, which includes the installation of water tanks, filters and chlorine provision for water purification. They then ensure daily delivery of 10-litre jerry cans of safe drinking water to underserved rural communities. Each jerry can costs around £0.09 including delivery, making it 15 times cheaper than the cheapest bottled water brands available.

As well as offering daily delivery of safe water at affordable prices, Spring Health has generated demand for safe water through innovative social marketing activities, such as door-to-door initiatives, water melas, street theatre and branding of safe water houses. It currently delivers safe drinking water to 150,000 customers across hundreds of villages in East India. By 2025, Spring Health aims to bring the service to 20,000 villages across India, reaching 2 million unique customers.

The business model relies on TRANSFORM’s support to scale out to an additional 100 villages and provide impactful social marketing activities. With this partnership, Spring Health will implement a new blended technology model that ensures both water quantity and safety for consumers in rural Odisha, Bihar and Eastern Uttar Pradesh. TRANSFORM’s support is also vital to support the carbon credit certification for the safe water enterprise kiosk to fund its market creation and expansion through state-of-the-art social marketing campaigns. Finally, it will help monitor and document the quality and coverage of safe water, as well as determine the financial impact of beneficiaries through a mobile app designed in house.

Shobar Jonno Pani (SJP) Bangladesh

Providing running water, waste collection and sanitation

Social enterprise Shobar Jonno Pani (SJP) meaning “water for all”, is working to provide essential services to informal settlements in urban Bangladesh. The social enterprise was founded by Water and Life a French NGO and acts as a mini-utility, providing paid services for water supply, primary solid waste collection and sanitation.

The business already supplies more than 8,000 people with running water, which is supplied through individual metered connections in each household, with an average fee collection rate of 97%. With TRANSFORM’s support, the project is now focusing on scaling the sanitation component, which gives those already connected to the water supply access to a paid sanitation service for improved latrines and drainage systems. The latrines use Biofil technology, a vermicompost approach that uses worms to convert the waste into a compost like material – just like they do in a compost bin in your garden!

The clients pay a weekly common bill for water, sanitation and solid waste collection. Using mobile money to reduce monetary risks, a smartphone application is used for fee collection, and the lowest-income households benefit from subsidised fee rates. The SJP team tested the sanitation offering in the informal settlement of Bhashantek in Dhaka in 2017, with 20 client households (around 100 people) still using and paying for the service. The TRANSFORM grant is contributing to scale up the pilot, develop behaviour change materials on handwashing and menstrual hygiene and create marketing materials so that potential SJP clients can find out about the service.


Providing and maintaining toilets for low-income users in India

Saraplast is a portable sanitation company that provides and maintains portable toilets across India, catering mainly to low-income users. In collaboration with Pune Municipal Corporation and Pune Smart City, the organisation launched Ti Centres as public toilets for women. To create these centres, old buses are renovated as public toilets and are positioned above existing infrastructure, such as water and sewerage lines beneath the ground.

Located in prime locations, they are more convenient for women to approach, and female attendants ensure the standards of cleanliness are maintained. Saraplast currently maintains and services 5,000 toilets across the country, catering to 1 million users and safely disposing 100,000 litres of waste every day.

In a first phase, TRANSFORM helped Saraplast find a sustainable business model that covered operating costs, including the salary of the female attendant. The project allowed the organisation to test different revenue-generating ideas, such as a launderette, a vegetable stand, a café and advertising from the buses (the latter two were successfully rolled out to the other toilets). TRANSFORM’s support helped Saraplast operate 10 buses in Pune, which have been used over 60,000 times by women and girls.

TRANSFORM’s funding is currently helping the project develop further by helping secure partnerships and explore franchising opportunities. Following the success of the café concept, the company is looking to collaborate with a local café chain to bring in their expertise and test their franchise, in order to make the Ti Centres more financially viable.

In addition, after testing Ti Health clinics – which involved using the toilets as a private space for women to receive health advice –, Saraplast is looking to prepare the concept for scale. Their goal is to engage a health charity or business to help create centres with running diagnostics and health screenings. These would provide tests for diabetes, pap smears and regular health check-ups accessible to low-income women.

TRANSFORM is also providing support to test whether the Ti Centre operation could be run as a franchise run by female entrepreneurs – called Sanipreneurs – from local communities. Up to six female Sanipreneurs will be trained in operations, sales, marketing and customer interaction, as a potential route to scale the model.

Pit Vidura

Providing pit latrine emptying services in Rwanda

Pit Vidura is a sanitation logistics company that provides safe fecal waste removal and transport services for last mile urban households in Kigali, Rwanda. The social enterprise has provided over 1300 Rwandan households with an alternative to the common practice of manually emptying latrines and dumping the waste into the environment since 2016.

Pit Vidura’s initial work in Kigali has provided key technical, social, and financial insights on establishing safe sanitation practices in informal settlements. In the Rwandan capital, Pit Vidura develops and tests hardware, software, and business model solutions that low the cost of waste removal and transport for the poorest and most inaccessible urban households.

TRANSFORM’s support will enable Pit Vidura to scale its services in Kigali, by testing the supply and demand side to increase the efficiency of the core operational business, and piloting mechanisms that license its technologies to existing service providers. The scaling strategy involves leveraging a network of community sales agents; working with informal kiosks, dukas, to be brand ambassadors; and developing ways to cluster household services and reduce the costs of transport;

Following its first large expansion effort, by 2025, Pit Vidura hopes to serve 67% of Kigali’s demand, providing emptying services that benefit 5,600 urban households. It also aims to secure licensing agreements with existing providers in Kigali and three other East African cities, extending the direct benefits to around 1 million people.


Bringing healthcare and essential products to rural Bangladesh

The Bangladesh company Jeeon has developed a simple app to provide better healthcare and well-being in rural communities. The app connects pharmacies to quality healthcare services, drugs and products, and upgrades them with knowledge and tools to better serve their patients, while also increasing their income.

In its mission, Jeeon identified two challenges: educating the population and creating demand for products; and creating an efficient supply chain to distribute these products nationwide. By leveraging the vast network pharmacies, drug shops, and village doctors, and their existing trust and footfalls in rural communities, Jeeon is able to reach Base-of-the-Pyramid consumers with new products addressing safe water, women’s health, and nutrition. Jeeon’s behavior change communication (BCC) model focuses on providing pharmacies with store branding, marketing materials, and training opportunities to incentivise these health entrepreneurs to educate their customers and patients to stimulate demand.

Alongside the new products, Jeeon offers providers a product basket that includes highly demanded products, and an efficient eCommerce platform to facilitate convenient digital ordering. In this way, Jeeon is developing a sustainable and scalable last-mile distribution channel. Allied with TRANSFORM, Jeeon looks to test, iterate and validate the model to help determine the appropriate BCC and marketing strategies, provide onboarding and training mechanisms, and identify supply chain innovations to effectively take high-impact products to scale in rural Bangladesh.

The project will start with a pilot group of 100 IHPs and expand to 800 IHPs, which will have a direct reach of 16,000 patients every day. Jeeon will train providers in knowledge-based sales of preventative health products and continually provide POSM and multimedia tools to engage customers and disseminate broader-reaching messaging. By 2021, Jeeon is targeting 5,000 providers in the network, giving the programme a daily reach of 100,000 patients and a model that can be replicated across South Asia and beyond.

Dharma Life

Clean and connected homes to improve the quality of life in rural India

With a mission to provide low-income communities in rural India with access to socially impactful products and services, Dharma Life has developed the concept of “Clean and Connected Homes”. The organisation is looking to solve the challenges of poor water and sanitation-related infrastructure, low awareness around hygiene practices, as well as household air pollution in low-income households, through its network of trained female entrepreneurs – Dharma Life Entrepreneurs (DLEs).

A “clean and connected home” is therefore a low-income rural household aware of good health, hygiene practices and sanitation habits, which adopts effective product solutions to ensure a better quality of life at the last mile. Dharma Life wants households to adopt most, if not all, of the following solutions: a safe drinking water solution at home; awareness and adoption of sanitation & handwash practices; a clean cooking solution; access to clean energy and digital literacy.

In an initial stage, the project involved designing an integrated approach to deliver a clean and connected home, testing the approach within a set sample of 200 DLEs and developing a scale-up strategy, with the support of TRANSFORM. Dharma Life will select and mentor the 200 DLEs to pilot the project, train them and convert their homes into model “clean and connected homes”. Each DLE – a trusted, digitally enabled female member of the community – will cover between two and four villages.

In parallel, Dharma Life will leverage existing best practices and design various behaviour change campaigns for rural households around access to clean drinking water and adoption of sanitation practices that enable healthy living.

The project will be monitored using real-time analytics and will serve as a pilot to test the effectiveness of the combined and cohesive behaviour change campaigns towards creating more “clean and connected homes”.

Folia Water

The filters providing clean, safe water for BoP consumers at grocery store pricing

Folia Materials was founded by two scientists with a green chemistry process to make a simple antimicrobial paper water purifier using nano-metallised paper, manufactured using large-scale paper and low cost of paper mills. Folia Water Filters are a simple, antimicrobial paper water filter for Base-of-the-Pyramid (BoP) consumers, which retail at the same 20 cent pricing as other grocery store staples for 20 liters of safe, germ-free water. Folia Water Filters use silver to kill bacteria and viruses, while the paper’s pores physically eliminate dirt, iron, and larger pathogens to make water safe to drink. Packaged like a simple coffee filter, Folia’s product is designed to be simple and fit into the containers that consumers already use in their kitchens, such as Bangladeshi kolshis pitchers.

Partnering with the BOP Innovation Centre, the company’s business model is to sell large volumes of its patented material to consumer goods distributors that have the expertise and know-how to handle country-scale distribution and sales. The role of TRANSFORM is to help Folia Water distribute and market the product in rural Bangladesh. Over the course of 18 months, the project will test D2D female agents for education and activation around the product to create demand and drive consumer behaviour and sales, reaching 10,000 households in rural Bangladesh. For long-term sales, it will focus on B2B sales to consumer goods enterprise corporates, with the country-scale distribution and sales reach to micro-entrepreneurs at local food & beverage grocery kiosks.

Folia Water’s mission is universal access to safe drinking water by bridging materials innovation to mass market consumer goods. Universal access to safe drinking water can only be achieved by enabling working-class consumers to have agency over their own access to safe water. Folia Water is showing how materials innovation, connected to the existing tools of mass-market consumer good businesses, can achieve this Sustainable Development Goal. With TRANSFORM’s support, an increased distribution reach would provide BoP consumers in Bangladesh with safe drinking water and get them onto a water filter product ladder to long-term durable good appliances. The overall aim is to reach up to 10 million consumers by 2025.


A platform to tackle South Asia’s water crisis

Drinkwell is a social enterprise that drives safe water consumption through a decentralised platform, providing clean water to over 250,000 people in South Asia. The Drinkwell technology removes contaminants from water using a gravity-fed process, which reduces energy costs and wasted water by more than 95% compared to other technologies.

The project is launching “Shuddo Panir Juddho” (meaning ‘the Battle for Safe Water’ in Bangla), a marketing campaign promoting safe drinking water practices. The aim is to drive households to purchase affordable Drinkwell cards, a radio-frequency identification (RFID) card that can be purchased at storefronts, via door to door agents, as well as at Drinkwell Water ATM Booths. Their unique customer ID enables access to premium content, as well as discounts on purchasing safe water subscriptions and filtration equipment. A network of 43,000 Drinkwell card-holders in urban Dhaka has already been built and is ready to scale to rural Bangladesh, thanks to partnerships with governmental and private entities.

The Shuddo Panir Juddho platform will also add a critical marketing and awareness component to ensure project sustainability, through the creation of audio and video content. Its aim is to drive traffic to safe water sources that already exist in water-stressed areas, thereby decreasing customer acquisition costs of safe drinking water systems, as uptake remains a critical issue.

TRANSFORM will support the pilot, testing four types of content across Bangladesh and West Bengal to assess uptake and measure eventual adoption of safe drinking water services. This can drive utilisation rates of existing community water systems and household filtration systems, which ultimately improves access to safe drinking water.

Over the next 18 months, Drinkwell will deploy 220 safe water systems across Bangladesh and West Bengal. The ultimate goal is to have 100,000 users on the platform, of which 25,000 will have access to safe drinking water from the network of stakeholders, who offer their products and services through the platform.

Digital Agents for Energy+

Providing energy to households in Kenya

The Digital Agents for Energy+ was conceived to meet the energy needs of underserved households in Kakuma and Kalobeyei, Kenya, a community of forcibly displaced and local Turkana. Designed and implemented by Mastercard, the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), the International Trade Centre (ITC), Total Access to Energy Solutions and BioLite, the project will train micro-entrepreneurs to function as agents (‘digital agents’) in their communities to sell energy solutions and facilitate their connections to external markets. Using an application to connect suppliers, wholesalers and digital agents, the programme will connect refugees and host community members to income-generating activities, enhancing local business capacity and entrepreneurship skills.

The project aims to first test the model on a small population, targeting 20 micro-entrepreneurs and five small wholesalers. Its aim is to serve the 180,000 refugees in Kakuma, along with 60,000 people in the town itself. While the initial stage of the programme incorporates solar energy products, the key objective is to diversify the portfolio beyond energy. This will not only maximise the potential of the digital agent infrastructure and better serve the community, but also help ensure the model is both scalable and replicable.

Water & Sanitation for the Urban Poor (WSUP)

Affordable sanitation waste collection services in urban Bangladesh

In Bangladesh, Water & Sanitation for the Urban Poor has created SWEEP, a partnership between city authorities and private entrepreneurs which provides underserved people with access to sanitation waste collection services.

The service aims to help tackle poor sanitation in urban Bangladesh, which poses a serious public health and environmental risk. Nearly half of the 55 million Bangladeshi people living in urban areas lack access to sanitation facilities from which waste can be safely collected and removed for treatment. As a result, huge quantities of waste from toilets are dumped into drains or rivers, contaminating communities and the wider urban environment.

SWEEP enables residents to pay for a vacuum tanker to empty their septic tanks and have the waste taken away for treatment. To create this service, WSUP set up partnerships between entrepreneurs and the public sector so that operators can transport waste to publicly owned treatment facilities. The partnership currently operates in Dhaka, Chittagong and Rangpur, with plans to scale to more locations in Bangladesh.

To ensure that the service can reach the poorest, yet still be financially viable, SWEEP entrepreneurs are contracted to ensure 30% of emptying jobs are conducted in low-income areas, where residents are offered a lower price. Private sector operators can lease equipment from the public sector lowering the risk of entry to the market, which enables them to more easily provide septic tank emptying services.

TRANSFORM is helping hone SWEEP’s marketing and sales model to increase demand for its services, particularly in low-income communities. Through TRANSFORM, WSUP is piloting different messaging and channel strategies, including exploring how Unilever’s existing small-shop network might be used to generate sales leads, through a commission-based structure that incentivises shop owners to play the role of marketing agents.

The ambition is to be able to provide current and future entrepreneurs with tried and tested methods for demand creation, easing market entry and revenue growth. The project will also help develop a model for scaling the business, so that the public-private partnership approach can be replicated in more cities in Bangladesh, where there is a potential reach of around 17 million customers.


Safe sanitation solutions for urban households in Madagascar

Loowatt develops safe, close-looped sanitation solutions to provide a high-quality service to underserved households. The company has developed a patented waterless flush toilet that provides the experience of a flush without using water. Loowatt’s polymer refill, the essential consumable in the toilet, locks in odour and provides a safe and hygienic user experience. Waste is then treated in value-generating treatment systems.

Loowatt currently owns and locally runs a subsidiary in Madagascar, meeting the country’s significant need for urban sanitation. Since 2016, it has been operating 100 toilets for paying households in Antananarivo, with one tonne of waste treated per week by both Loowatt and the local authority responsible for waste management.

The organisation is relying on TRANSFORM’s support to prove the financial viability of the Madagascar operations, with the aim of becoming a supplier of non-sewered sanitation technology to companies and utilities globally. TRANSFORM’s help will enable Loowatt to refine a scalable business model so that it can be replicated by local partners in low-income markets. With this support, it aims to solve various key issues over the next two years, such as service logistics and payment collections, market development to support user densification, and health and wellbeing branding to increase users and open new revenue streams.

By the end of 2020, Loowatt expects to meet the needs of 3,000 low-income households with off-sewer sanitation. The sale of Loowatt technologies to other private and municipal operations who set up off-sewer sanitation solutions in other geographies will ensure scale and numerous indirect beneficiaries. The organisation also hopes that, by developing solutions to the key scaling challenges it faces, TRANSFORM can gain vital insights and learnings that will be transferable to other low-income markets and sanitation service providers.