Unilever has launched a joint venture titled TRANSFORM with the British donor agency Department for International Development and the London-based professional services firm Ernst & Young.
The joint venture has donated Tk22 crore to eight social business firms for their innovative projects. The projects were demonstrated on February 12 at a hotel in the capital, said a press release. The event was named "TRANSFORM Bangladesh Entrepreneurs Showcasing Event."
TRANSFORM aims to inspire innovative social businesses and has provided support to eight new firms in Bangladesh over the past two years.
The selected startup projects in Bangladesh are Jeeon, Maya, HappyTap, Shobar Jonno Pani, SWEEP, Drinkwell, Folia Water, Bhumijo.
Present at the event were Kedar Lele, chief executive officer and managing director of Unilever Bangladesh along with the chief guest Md. Mokammel Hossain, additional Secretary for SDG Affairs at the Prime Minister's Office.
The event was also graced by Richard Wright, global director of Unilever's Sustainable Behaviour Change project and Chris Edward, manager of Strategic Partnership and Innovation department at Department for International Development.
In his speech, Unilever Bangladesh CEO Kedar Lele, said, "Unilever has been operating in Bangladesh for the last 55 years. We strive to implement the innovative ideas of the young and talented entrepreneurs for the overall development of this country and from that belief comes TRANSFORM."
"We believe this joint initiative will aid in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) within the stipulated time," he added.
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).
Jeeon upgrades pharmacies with a simple app that connects them. The project is also trialing behaviour change messaging and demand creation to give the rural communities access to health and well-being products.
Maya's mission is to be everyone's wellbeing assistant across Asia, especially for women, making access instant, convenient, and private for users. This is achieved through a proprietary artificial intelligence based anonymous messaging solution.
Bhumijo has built and operates high-quality public toilets in Bangladesh.
HappyTap has introduced a portable sink built for the younger family members in low-income communities. The toilet appliances have been designed to encourage behavioural change among poor children.
Shobar Jonno Pani is a social enterprise working in the Bhashantek slum in the capital that targets behavioural change concerning sanitation.
SWEEP is a fecal sludge management service developed in 2015 by the Bangladesh chapter of the UK-based development agency – Water and Sanitation for the Urban Poor. SWEEP's services have been designed for low-income communities in Chattogram.
Folia Water's patent-pending silver-infused filter papers have been claimed to be the world's first water filter that costs coins and not taka.
Drinkwell is working to transform 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 acceptance and measure eventual adoption of safe drinking water services.
TRANSFORM is a $52.14m initiative that has now supported more than 50 projects with businesses across South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa to develop early-stage business ideas that create social good. Its projects in Bangladesh are Water Enterprises, Health and Wellbeing Enterprises, and Sanitation and Hygiene Enterprises.
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 innovative social businesses to solve market-based solutions which can play vital roles in poverty reduction.
TRANSFORM is committed to drive progress towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), as the world prepares for a more inclusive, low-carbon and equitable economy by 2030.
The Unilever Sustainable Living Plan sets out to decouple its growth from environmental footprint, while increasing 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).