27 Apr 2017

Transforming ventures in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia

By Vicky

Over the past 14 weeks we’ve been busy working with Unilever and DFID to support a group of social ventures selected as part of the TRANSFORM programme. TRANSFORM is a partnership between Unilever and DFID to support social ventures tackling water, sanitation, hygiene and household energy for low-income households, improving health and well-being on a large scale.

The teams are normally based in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. We brought them to London to learn some of the principles we use with BGV teams like lean innovation, developing strong team culture and measuring and demonstrating social impact. We also spent time visiting teams in Kenya and Uganda to provide in-country support, and provided remote office hours when the teams have been at their base.

This has been a new experience for BGV and we’ve leant a lot over the past 14 weeks. Although lean startup principles apply across the globe, we’ve had to adapt our approach to the cultures and behaviours of those living in off the grid communities without access to electricity, toilets or clean water. We’re proud of what we’ve achieved, and excited to think about what’s next for BGV in the international scene.  

Tonight we’re celebrating the end of the 14 week programme at a special Unilever and DFID Demo Day. The seven teams we’ve been working with are:

Happy Tap is a social business with a mission to improve hygiene in low-income countries. It produces and markets a portable sink designed to inspire families – especially children – to consistently wash their hands with soap and to form a lifelong healthy habit.

Ubuntu Power provides affordable solar power and internet access to off-grid communities in Kenya. Ubuntu Power deploys Smart Micro Utilities, integrating power, water and Internet into one central system.

Mercy Corps Europe have created the Myanmar Stoves Campaign (MSC) to deliver clean, efficient, high quality cook stoves to rural low-income households in Myanmar. They aim to improve access to clean, reliable and affordable sources of energy and reduce the physical and financial burden of energy acquisition.  

ENVenture is an incubator that empowers rural community based organisations to learn business skills and to launch sustainable clean energy enterprises. It focuses on distribution in rural areas and tackles the lack of supply chains, which results in low?income consumers failing to switch to clean energy technologies.

Sanergy works to make safe sanitation accessible and affordable for everyone, forever — starting in Nairobi, Kenya. During our programme, they’ll be focusing on their ‘Fresh Fit’ toilet, which is an in-home toilet that empowers individual households to take control of their family’s sanitation.

Inclusive Business Sweden is exploring the use of peer-to-peer technologies and models for sharing of sanitation services in developing markets – looking first at a P2P model for sharing toilets in Nairobi, Kenya.

My Sunshine is building low cost, lightweight, solar panels for household use – focusing first on rural off-grid Kenyan communities.