TRANSFORM Backs 8 BD Orgs to Achieve SDG Goals

The Joint Initiative by Unilever, DFID & EY Aimed to Support Social Business in Bangladesh

'TRANSFORM,' a joint project between Unilever, ' DFID' and ' Ernst & Young,' donated BDT 22 crore (£ 2 million) to execute the country's 8 companies' innovative initiatives. TRANSFORM aims to empower creative social businesses that contribute to the development of society. TRANSFORM has funded eight new social-business organizations in Bangladesh over the past two years.

Grantees showed their projects at a Capital hotel yesterday at an event called 'TRANSFORM  Bangladesh Entrepreneurs Showcasing Event.'  

At the program were Mr. Kedar Lele, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and Managing Director (MD) of Unilever Bangladesh along with the chief guest Mr. Md. Mokammel Hossain, the additional Secretary for SDG Affairs of the Prime Minister's Office. The event was also graced by Richard Wright, Global Director of Unilever's 'Sustainable Behavior Change Project' and Chris Edward, Strategic Partnership and Innovation Manager at DFID (UK). 

In his speech, Mr. Kedar Lele, Unilever Bangladesh's chief executive (CEO) and managing director (MD) said, "As a responsible corporate organization, Unilever has been operating & working in Bangladesh for the last 55 years. Since the country's genesis, we have carried out various activities to protect people's health, especially mothers and children. We aim to execute innovative ideas of the young & talented entrepreneurs into practice for the overall development of this country. From that belief, TRANSFORM stands alongside these young talents. We believe that this joint initiative will help to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in the time specified by poverty reduction, ensuring good health and improving the overall living standards Bangladeshi People.” 

Department for International Development (DFID), United Kingdom and one of the world's largest professional firms, ‘Ernst & Young (EY), have taken the initiative in order to take Unilever’s USLP (Sustainable Living Plan) further. This initiative, called 'TRANSFORM', is helping creative social businesses to solve market-based solutions that can play vital roles in poverty reduction. 

TRANSFORM is committed to pursuing the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), as the world is preparing for a more sustainable, low-carbon and equitable economy by 2030.

The Unilever Sustainable Living Plan seeks to separate its growth from the environmental footprint while boosting positive social impact. The plan has three big goals to achieve, underpinned by nine commitments and targets spanning social, environmental and economic performance across the value chain. Unilever will continue to work with others to focus on those areas which can drive the biggest change and support the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

It is a £ 40 M initiative that has now supported more than 50 projects with companies across South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa to develop business ideas that create social good in the early stages. The projects in Bangladesh are Water Enterprises, Health & Wellbeing Enterprises, and Sanitation & Hygiene Enterprises. 

TRANSFORM collaborates with entrepreneurs in Bangladesh to create new business solutions in the areas of good health and wellbeing (SDG 3) and clean water and sanitation (SDG 6). These new social enterprises are creating inclusive markets for the benefit of everyone that can help alleviate poverty (SDG 1). The award-winning TRANSFORM collaboration is an excellent example of SDG 17 – partnerships for the goals.

Eight projects -- Jeeon, Maya, HappyTap, Shobar Jonno Pani, SWEEP, Drinkwell, Folia Water, Bhumijo, have been selected to receive grants from TRANSFORM to scale their innovative and sustainable approaches to meet low-income household needs.  

Jeeon upgrades pharmacies with a simple app that creates capacity and links them to improve rural healthcare. The TRANSFORM project tests behavioral change messaging and demand creation to enable rural community access to health and well-being products.

Maya's goal is to be an assistant to everyone's wellbeing in Asia, especially for women, allowing users to access fast, convenient, informed and private. This is achieved through a proprietary artificial intelligence (AI) based anonymous messaging solution that Maya has developed. Maya uses artificial intelligence to provide affordable remote health advice to women.

Bhumijo builds and operates high-quality public toilets in Bangladesh.

HappyTap is a mass-manufactured portable sink purpose-built for low-income communities of Bangladesh that has been designed to encourage behavioral change for children. 

Shobar Jonno Pani (SJP) is a social enterprise working in the Bhashantek slum in Dhaka. TRANSFORM will support the roll-out of the sanitation pilot and will focus on marketing and behavioral change. 

SWEEP is a fecal sludge management service developed by Water and Sanitation for the Urban Poor Bangladesh in 2015. The TRANSFORM project will focus on marketing and sales to increase the demand for SWEEP’s services, targeting low-income communities of Chittagong. 

Drinkwell is transforming South Asia’s water crisis into an entrepreneurial opportunity by using a micro-franchise model to provide clean drinking water. The TRANSFORM project will test a new content platform and technology to assess uptake and measure the eventual adoption of safe drinking water services.  

The patent-pending silver-infused filter papers from Folia Water are the world's first water filter that costs coins, not Taka. The TRANSFORM project will focus on Marketing and Distribution.

During the exhibition, organized by TRANSFORM's partnership initiative and the pyramid structure, Unilever and the 8 sponsored startups highlighted the positive impact that the initiatives have on the common people as a result of its organizational activities in Bangladesh.

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