TRANSFORM report shows impact of small and medium enterprises on women’s health, financial literacy and more
Published on: 21/11/2023
Unilever, the UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) and EY assessed enterprises funded by their joint initiative to better understand how impact enterprises can improve women’s and girls’ lives.
- TRANSFORM spoke to 100 people at five enterprises in India, Nigeria, Rwanda, Ethiopia and Kenya to understand how impact SMEs can improve lives for low-income women and their families.
- The new, qualitative research found six areas of impact, including empowerment, increased skills, improved finances and better health, on women’s lives as a result of working for or interacting with TRANSFORM-funded enterprises.
- The research also found that impact is not limited to the women employed by SMEs, it has ripple effects across communities, including for their children and grandchildren.
London, 21 November 2023: TRANSFORM, an impact accelerator that unites corporates, donors, investors and academics to support visionary enterprises, has published a new report: Lifting Up Communities By Empowering Women. Based on new research, the report shows how five of the enterprises TRANSFORM supports have impacted women across Africa and Asia. Published following Global Goals Week, it shares solutions to make strides towards Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 1, 5, 8 and 11: No Poverty, Gender Equality, Decent Work and Economic Growth, and Sustainable Cities and Communities.
Led by Unilever, the UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) and EY, TRANSFORM advances the development of innovative business models through a combination of grant funding, business insight and research to help solve global challenges. Its new report aims to share insights for enterprises, governments and funders about how SMEs can improve the lives of women and girls.
The report is the result of a qualitative, thematic evaluation, drawing out insights from across the five enterprises. The findings are distilled from analysis of the contributions shared in 100 interviews with entrepreneurs, their employees and the communities in which they work. The research found six key areas of impact on women employees at enterprises:
- Women saw increases in their take-home income leading to higher earnings and greater financial security
- Improved skills, especially in terms of digital and financial literacy
- Personal development and empowerment, including increased confidence and self-esteem
- Higher living standards for women and their households
- Benefits to health for women and their households
- Changed social status, including overcoming objections to the idea of women working
For instance, Chaitali Chandrakant Tate, who works at TRANSFORM grantee Sampurn(e)arth said:
“Neighbours taunted me, called me dirty during my initial days, months of work at the [waste centre]. But I ignored them and continued working at the facility. I also thought that whatever they are throwing away is turning into bread and butter for workers like me. Due to this, my children have good education and good clothes. I told my children that they are getting nice things due to [this job]. Now, no one taunts me, and my children are proud of me.”
From the insights shared, TRANSFORM has pulled together six ways for enterprises to ensure they have a positive impact on women and girls and is calling for all SMEs to consider these moving forward.
- Deliberately seek positive outcomes for women
- Target their recruitment and training deliberately
- Offer flexible employment
- Provide access to credit and savings schemes
- Design products and processes for women
- Work in partnership with other impact organisations
Clive Allison, Global Sustainability Director at Unilever, said:
“TRANSFORM’s enterprises support women and girls in a wide variety of ways, from providing jobs across a range of industries including waste management, sales and more, to providing healthcare, sanitation services or improved access to clean water. We are delighted that, through TRANSFORM, we have supported innovations that both enable change within the Unilever supply chain and increase opportunities for women and girls around the world.”
Professor Charlotte Watts, Chief Scientific Adviser and Director for Research and Evidence at the UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, said:
“TRANSFORM’s innovative enterprises have created new, scalable solutions to empower women and girls by providing jobs, increasing earnings and breaking down gender barriers – in turn moving the needle for whole communities. The UK is proud that our work in partnership with business leads the way in tackling the world’s biggest social, environmental and economic challenges to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.”
Gillian Hinde, EY Global Corporate Responsibility Leader, said:
TRANSFORM’s research shows how impact entrepreneurs who collaborate with business and government can accelerate progress towards the SDGs. We hope that more organisations will feel inspired to join the TRANSFORM initiative and help us drive impact for women like Chaitali or Sunita around the globe.”