Celebrating, scaling and pushing the boundaries: what you can expect from TRANSFORM in 2024
Published on: 30/01/2024
By Grace Cramer, Tech and Innovation Theme Leader at the UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO)
As 2024 gets underway, the TRANSFORM team is mixing celebration with determination. We have reached a new milestone, with the programme positively impacting more than 15 million lives. These people are the customers, employees and communities who have benefitted from the enterprises TRANSFORM supports. Armed with the knowledge that the programme is directly contributing to the achievement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals, we are focused on growing its impact over the next two years.
Since our inception in 2015, we’ve worked with over 70 visionary enterprises across 17 countries, all of which are progressing bold business ideas that are unlocking new solutions for a more sustainable and equitable future. From day one, TRANSFORM’s goal has been to identify these innovators and amplify their work with a tailored mix of grant funding, technical assistance, and market connections.
Many are now gaining great momentum. Take Bhumijo in Bangladesh as an example. What started as one women-only toilet facility has become an operation of 34 public toilets, serving 7,000 people every day. And their aim is to have built 1,000 new public toilets by 2030. Another – Ajaita Shah, the founder of Frontier Markets – won the prestigious Schwab Award earlier this month, in recognition of her important work in gender equity and climate. Since Frontier Markets was founded in 2011, it has recruited and trained a 20,000 strong network of saleswomen, who have collectively earned $30 million in income. In doing so, they have helped an additional five million women access solutions at the last mile. By 2030, the enterprise hopes to recruit one million female entrepreneurs.
TRANSFORM’s model is accelerating change, not just by impacting lives person by person, but by challenging the very foundations of business-as-usual. By testing and scaling new solutions – led by entrepreneurs at community level – that tackle environmental challenges and improve health, wellbeing and livelihoods, we are enabling established businesses to use our learnings to build an inclusive and sustainable economy.
Over the next year, we plan to share insights from three particularly exciting areas.
Recycling and Circularity
We will continue to test trials of refill solutions across Kenya, India and Bangladesh, designed to prevent waste and keep materials in use. We have taken a closer look at the waste-free enterprises in our portfolio and their impact across the supply chain, and will be launching our research findings at the beginning of Spring.
Moreover, we have been conducting research into people’s behaviours and attitudes towards recycling in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa with on-the-ground research agencies. These insights will also be shared in the Spring.
Over the past year we expanded TRANSFORM’s focus to cover protecting and regenerating nature, and have been working with a range of new enterprises doing great things in this space. Projects including women-led responsible shea nut farming in Ghana, restorative seaweed agribusiness in the Philippines, and regeneratively farmed mint in India have all started to demonstrate impact and we plan to share our insights in the second half of 2024.
TRANSFORM has always trusted local entrepreneurs because we know that those experiencing development challenges firsthand are those best placed to solve them. This is an ethos we will build on in 2024, ensuring that TRANSFORM’s decision making happens in-country with delivery partners on-the-ground. For example, the TRANSFORM Climate Challenge team in Bangladesh is currently evaluating applications from impact enterprises who are working on plastic recycling and circularity solutions, water, sanitation & hygiene (WASH), and regenerative agriculture in the country. Last year we followed a similar format in East Africa, with local decision makers from Unilever Kenya, the British High Commission in Kenya and EY selecting new local enterprises to receive TRANSFORM’s support.
We continue to be inspired by the achievements of our growing network of enterprises. Our job is, as ever, to catalyse their efforts by helping them build new partnerships, deepen existing ones, and accelerate action. We can’t wait to see what they will do in 2024 to scale the development of a fairer, more sustainable world and are excited to share the insights and learnings from across the programme.
Related impact stories
- Ulka Sadalkar, Director, and Co-Founder at Saraplast on providing public toilets for women in repurposed old busesUlka Sadalkar, Director, and Co-Founder at Saraplast on providing public toilets for women in repurposed old buses
Entrepreneur impact story: Bilikiss Adebiyi-Abiola, founder of Wecyclers, Lagos, Nigeria
- Water, Sanitation and Hygiene