Unilever engages Social Entrepreneurs to accelerate the Sustainable Living Plan

Transform: In Partnership with DFID and Clinton Giustra Enterprise Partnership

Partnerships mean we can cut the time it takes to get initiatives to market

Rebecca Marmot, Vice President Global Partnerships

Today, Unilever has announced the next wave of innovation challenges as part of the business’s commitment to sustainable living.

Through the Unilever Foundry, social impact businesses can engage with the Company to access mentorship, explore partnership opportunities and receive funding. In the same way that the organisation has helped entrepreneurs in the digital marketing space to go from start-up to scale-up, they’re now looking to bring those capabilities to the forefront to help social entrepreneurs scale their impact and ideas. 

The Transform initiative is a result of a partnership between the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID), the Clinton Giustra Enterprise Partnership (CGEP) and Unilever – with the aim to create jobs, increase incomes and improve the health and wellbeing of 100 million people in developing countries by 2025, in support of the Global Goals. 

Transform is a further commitment to the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan (USLP), which aims to double the size of the Unilever business while reducing the company’s environmental footprint and increasing its positive social impact. 

The Transform initiative will fund and support a series of business and research projects to create; 

- Transformative, and financially viable, social businesses 

- Research that informs how businesses can deliver more effective behaviour change. 

Through the Unilever Foundry, various challenges will be posted and social entrepreneurs or researchers operating in the relevant categories and geographies will be invited to submit their solutions, for the chance to receive technical and operational support and grant funding up to £250,000 to develop their ideas and take them forward. 

Transform challenge categories are focussed around Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) and Energy solutions for low income households in developing countries. They include: 

  • Early-stage, business solutions (including novel distribution models) to meet WASH and Energy needs for low-income households 
  • Mobile and/or digital technologies within financially sustainable business models that meet low-income household needs around WASH and Energy 
  • Research into various areas of behavior change related to delivery of WASH and Energy solutions in low income households and communities 

The Transform programme partners will engage with the winning project teams in a collaborative process to provide technical and operational support and investment to help develop and prove the potential of their ideas for impact at scale. 

Rebecca Marmot, Vice President Global Partnerships, Unilever said: “Through the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan we have committed to empowering women, enhancing the livelihoods of millions of workers and improving the health and well-being of more than a billion people. This commitment combined with partnerships such as Transform and the Unilever Foundry’s unique support means we can cut the time it takes to get initiatives to market – and continue to create change and impact at scale.” 

The Transform initiative will be a five year, minimum £10 million, programme that will initially focus on water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) and household energy. The project is the first initiative to be launched since Unilever and DFID committed to working together to help the world’s poor in 2014 and the first partnership of its kind between a leading international business and DFID. CGEP joins as the first Partner, bringing its expertise in last-mile distribution. 

The deadline for all applications is 11:59 (GMT) on 22nd January 2016. 

Please visit foundry.unilever.com/transform for further details or to submit your proposal.

                                                                                                                                                    –ENDS–

Notes to Editors

About Unilever Foundry

Unilever Foundry (http://foundry.unilever.com/) provides a single entry-point for innovative startups seeking to partner with Unilever, enabling the company’s global brands to experiment with and pilot new technologies more efficiently, effectively and speedily. It provides startups and entrepreneurs the opportunity to develop and work on global projects, access mentoring from marketing professionals, and tap into funding through Unilever Ventures. Startups are invited to apply to be part of Unilever Foundry through visiting: http://foundry.unilever.com/projects.

Find out more about Unilever’s Sustainable Living Plan.

Unilever Foundry (Unilever.com/foundry) works closely with Unilever Ventures, the Venture capital arm of Unilever. Unilever Ventures invests in early stage companies that could become strategically relevant to Unilever and can benefit from access to Unilever’s assets and capabilities. One of the key areas of investment for Unilever Ventures is Digital Marketing, encompassing marketing services business with a focus on mobile marketing, digital media and video, social media, content creation, eCommerce, shopper marketing and big data. Recent examples include Yummly and Brandtone. 

Find our more on the Transform partnership.

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