Unilever, DFID and EY launch TRANSFORM: Utilities Sanitation Challenge to fund and support Ghana’s utilities to develop innovative sanitation solutions

  • Unilever, EY and the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) are inviting pioneering water utilities to apply for funding and support to develop innovative ways to meet the sanitation needs of under-served communities.
  • TRANSFORM: Sanitation Challenge aims to combine utilities’ expertise and know-how with the capabilities and networks of multinational partners to build a blueprint for the future delivery of sanitation solutions.
  • JMP estimates that the and economic benefits of improved sanitation in urban Ghana could have an outsize impact on the 15.8% of people who don’t have access to a toilet.


Unilever, DFID and EY are searching for pioneering water utilities to collaborate with to develop new services and business models that can meet the sanitation needs of underserved consumers, as part of TRANSFORM: Sanitation Challenge.






The initiative aims to combine utilities’ expertise and know-how with the capabilities and networks of multinational partners to develop innovative urban sanitation solutions. Two challenge winners will receive up to £250,000 in funding, as well as access to support and guidance from Unilever and EY.

TRANSFORM support will enable utilities in Ghana to realise the potential of their ideas for sanitation products and services aimed at under-served communities. At the same time, it will contribute to much-needed local economic development and public health, helping some of the 2.5 million in Ghana who do not have convenient, affordable access to a clean toilet.

This challenge is hosted by TRANSFORM, a unique joint impact initiative between Unilever, DFID and EY. Established to accelerate social enterprises, TRANSFORM blends funding and expert support to deliver market-based solutions for the world’s biggest development challenges.

“This is a great opportunity for utilities to expand their business and build awareness and recognition with a new group of customers who aren’t served by existing products and services. Successful applicants will receive expert support from Unilever and EY to develop and prototype innovative ideas for urban sanitation, aiming for financially sustainability,” said Richard Wright, Behavioural Science Director at Unilever“Key to developing and delivering a new blueprint for sanitation services is a deep understanding of local communities. On top of the technical expertise and innovative ideas that local utilities can bring to this project, their knowledge of local markets and sanitation challenges will be invaluable.”

“Utilities have the relationships, capabilities and necessary infrastructure to lead the way in ensuring equitable sanitation access for all, including those with little money for whom existing solutions are not suitable or unaffordable,” said Jessie Coates, Impact Entrepreneurship Leader at EY“What’s more, alongside realising a competitive advantage by targeting a new customer base, challenge winners will help to address a pressing social issue with wide-ranging benefits including reducing diseases like cholera and dysentery, preventing children from missing school and adults from missing work due to sickness.”

The state of sanitation remains a powerful indicator of the state of human development in any community. The United Nations estimates that 2.5 billion people in developing countries still do not have access to basic sanitation. This is the cause of some of the main environmental and health problems facing people living in poor communities, including water pollution and the transmission of diseases and infections.

Unilever is one of the one of the largest consumer goods companies in the world, and on any given day 2.5 billion people use Unilever products. Unilever brings deep expertise in marketing and branding to this TRANSFORM: Sanitation Challenge. Some of its household brands include: Sunlight, Omo, Lifebuoy, Knorr and Lipton.

EY is part of TRANSFORM through EY Ripples, a programme to positively impact one billion lives by 2030 by sharing the knowledge and experience of EY people. EY has a longstanding commitment to impact enterprises, with 500 projects completed to help these businesses overcome growth challenges and scale their life-changing models around the world.

More information on TRANSFORM: Utilities Sanitation Challenge can be found here.

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