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Unilever Transform


When you work in fast moving consumer goods (FMCG), spare time for meetings is not something you have in abundance! I am very grateful to the local Addis Ababa Unilever team, Delfen Vazan (Estfen) and Tigist kebede, for their time earlier in the week.



🤩 I can't say enough good things about the work this team does for women entrepreneurs and micro-enterprise in rural areas of Ethiopia. Much is written about the TRANSFORM (Unilever, FCDO & EY) programme, first established in 2015, and there are many partners making immeasurable contributions to it's success.


💡 When I first heard the term #shakti agent or entrepreneur, I was a little confused. This is a term I associate with projects in India. I came to understand that aspects of the programme originated in India and due to it's success the model has been adapted and has evolved over time, to get the best for each Unilever market, and can be found across Sub Saharan Africa and South Asia.


🛒 The heart of the "social distribution" model remains the same; provide an opportunity for rural women-led micro enterprise or individual entrepreneurs to generate an income and grow their business through the sale of Unilever products. In the case of Ethiopia, the focus is on the sale of Home and Personal Care.


👷‍♂️ I know from my own experience that successful delivery of programmes in areas where infrastructure, telecommunications, literacy and data collection can all be challenging, is not for the faint hearted. You have to be passionate about the project and the people. All team members, particularly those working in the field, will be pushed to their limits often. It can be hot, it can be tiring and sometimes frustrating. But the overriding feeling is that it is very rewarding!


🎯 The team here in Addis are well on their way to achieving their 10,000 registered women agents in designated rural locations. Data collection is being addressed in partnership with local technology providers and a loan model, for product purchases by the business owners, is under consideration. Constantly evolving the programme to fit local needs.


🏢 We speak a lot about the role of private enterprise in supporting the development sector. We are in this together. For me, the Transform programme is a great example of how a privately held organisation, in partnership with the wider development ecosystem, can deliver for profit, people and social impact.


🤝 Wishing Delfen Vazan, Tigist kebede and their team, ongoing success! 🥇


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