The deadline for entries to the 2020 edition of the FT/IFC Transformational Business Awards has been extended to 30 April, to give organisations more time to submit their applications. This year's programme marks 15 years of collaboration between the Financial Times and the International Finance Corporation on awards that have had a substantial impact on the way financial and non-financial organisations approach sustainable investment. The Awards highlight ground-breaking, long-term private sector solutions to major development issues, with the core categories directly related to global efforts to achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals. The winners will be announced at a special dinner in London on 8 October, preceded by the FT/IFC Transformational Business Conference, a major gathering of thought leaders who will explore and debate the issues generated by the Awards.
FT/IFC Transformational Business Awards 2020
Innovative, Inclusive Solutions to Major Development Challenges
International Finance Corporation (IFC)
In Partnership With
Special Category Partner
The Financial Times and the International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group, have launched the 2020 edition of the FT/IFC Transformational Business Awards, the leading global initiative that highlights and promotes ground-breaking, long-term private sector solutions to major development challenges.
This latest programme marks 15 years of collaboration between the FT and IFC on awards that have had a substantial impact on the way financial and non-financial organisations approach sustainable investment.
The core categories of the Transformational Business Awards are all directly related to global efforts to achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Within this overall focus, special attention will be given by the judging panel to initiatives that address climate change, and/or harness disruptive technologies and business models to increase impact and scale. Innovative financing solutions, including best practice in impact investing, will also be recognised.
The 2020 awards include a new category on harnessing the power of innovation and technology to ensure inclusion among the most marginalised and vulnerable groups, including the disabled, refugees from conflict and persecution, and those that are excluded due to their gender, age, location, caste, religion or sexual identity.
The Awards are open to all private sector organisations. Start-ups with innovative solutions and a clear roadmap to financial sustainability are encouraged to apply. The 2019 Awards attracted a record 270 entries from 246 organisations working in all regions of the world.
The deadline for entries is 30 April 2020. The winner in each category will be announced at a special dinner in London on 08 October. The dinner will be preceded by the FT/IFC Transformational Business Conference, a major gathering of thought leaders who will explore and debate the issues generated by the Awards.
The Financial Times and IFC began working together on sustainability-focused awards in 2005, beginning with the FT/IFC Sustainable Banking Awards, which evolved into the Sustainable Finance Awards in 2011 and the Transformational Business Awards in 2014.
Pilita Clark is an Associate Editor and Business Columnist at the Financial Times. She writes a weekly column on modern corporate life, as well as features and other articles. Pilita has worked for the FT since 2003, covering aviation and the environment. She was the FT's Environment Correspondent from 2011 to 2017.
Pilita was previously a Washington correspondent for Australian newspapers and a Nieman Fellow at Harvard University.
Karin Finkelston is IFC’s Vice President of Partnerships, Communication, and Outreach, and a member of IFC’s Management Team. She leads IFC’s efforts to build strategic relationships with stakeholders, multilateral organisations, development institutions, civil society, foundations, and other key development partners to create markets and mobilise private sector investments in emerging markets. She leads IFC’s teams in Western Europe and Tokyo and oversees IFC’s corporate communications and global engagement.
Prior to taking up this position in July 2017, Ms Finkelston held a series of leadership positions at the World Bank Group, including IFC Vice President for Asia and Pacific and Vice President and Chief Operating Officer at the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA). Ms Finkelston spent most of her career leading IFC’s investment and advisory business in Asia. Prior to being named IFC’s first Vice President for Asia and Pacific, she was Director for East Asia and Pacific, and Country Manager for China and Mongolia. She grew IFC’s China business — investing with local entrepreneurs and banks — and led IFC’s expansion in Asia’s frontier countries.
Before joining IFC, Ms Finkelston was Vice President at Manufacturers Hanover Trust Company in Hong Kong after starting her career in New York. As a manager at Barents Group, she led a team in Hanoi, advising and implementing Vietnam’s first privatisation transactions. Ms Finkelston has an MBA from Harvard Business School and an undergraduate degree from Dartmouth College.
Kanini Mutooni is a UK Chartered accountant and Harvard Kennedy School alumnus with experience at Director and board level at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, KPMG, EY and Kleinwort Benson Private Bank. She is currently the Managing Director for Europe, Middle East and Africa of TONIIC, an impact investing network based in London and San Francisco. She is also Board Chair of the Global Innovation Fund (GIF), a $225m fund focused on impact investment in emerging market commercial innovations that help solve social constraints.
Kanini is also an investment committee member of the African Agricultural SME fund II, a $120m fund focused on investing in small cap Pan-African early-to-growth stage agribusiness firms. The fund closed in June 2018 and has already committed over 30 per cent of its capital. Kanini was previously founding Investment Committee member of the Africa Enterprise Challenge Fund (AECF), a $227m continent-wide impact fund focused on agriculture and clean energy sub-sectors. AECF was one of the early patient capital investors in M-KOPA and Mobisol, two clean energy companies that have made a significant impact in the provision of solar power to communities in the region. She was also Vice Board Chair of Shelter Afrique’s Finance and Risk Committee. Shelter Afrique is a Development Finance Institution with membership from 43 African countries that provides debt and equity finance for affordable housing projects.
Kanini has an MBA from Cass Business School, City University London and was recognised by the World Economic Forum as a Young Global Leader in 2014 for her contribution to business and entrepreneurship. She is also a visiting lecturer at the University of Cape Town Graduate School of Business.
Samir Abhyankar is a Partner at TPG Growth based in London, working across sectors covering the group's investment activities in Africa. Prior to joining TPG Growth in 2015, Mr Abhyankar was a Partner with Satya Capital, where he focused on IT, consumer, financial services and retail investments. Previously he spent six years at Citi Venture Capital International, where he was responsible for its African investment activities, and CDC Group, where he was the Director of Strategy. He was also formerly a management consultant with Marakon Associates. Mr Abhyankar started his career with the World Bank as a banking sector analyst. He graduated with an MBA from INSEAD and holds an MA from Johns Hopkins' School of Advanced International Studies.
Kalipso Chalkidou is the Director of Global Health Policy and a Senior Fellow at the Center for Global Development, based in London, and a Professor of Practice in Global Health at Imperial College London. Her work concentrates on helping governments build technical and institutional capacity for using evidence to inform health policy as they move towards Universal Healthcare Coverage. She is interested in how local information, local expertise and local institutions can drive scientific and legitimate healthcare resource allocation decisions. She has been involved in the Chinese rural health reforms and health reform projects in Colombia, Turkey and the Middle East, working with the World Bank, PAHO, the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) and the Inter-American Development Bank as well as national governments. In 2007-2008, she spent a year at the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, as a Harkness fellow in Health Policy and Practice, studying how comparative effectiveness research can inform government drug pricing policies.
Kalipso led the establishment of NICE International, which she headed for eight years, and, more recently, of the international Decision Support Initiative (iDSI), a multi-country network working towards better health around the world through evidence-informed spending in healthcare in low to middle income countries. IDSI is funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, DFID and the Rockefeller Foundation and is currently involved in national reform projects in China, India, Vietnam, Ghana, Indonesia and South Africa.
Kalipso holds a doctorate on the molecular biology of prostate cancer from the University of Newcastle (UK), an MD (Hons) from the University of Athens and is a visiting Professor at King’s College London and an adjunct professor at Griffith University in Australia. She sits on several journal editorial boards and has published over 100 peer-reviewed papers and book chapters.
Helen Clarkson joined The Climate Group in March 2017 as Chief Executive Officer. Prior to joining The Climate Group, she worked at Forum for the Future where she founded the organisation’s US office. At Forum, Ms Clarkson led work with large US corporations such as Target, Walmart, Nike, Gap and Levi Strauss & Co to solve complex sustainability challenges at both the organisational and broader systemic level. She also served as Interim Chief Operating Officer for several months. Ms Clarkson joined Forum from Médecins Sans Frontières where she worked on humanitarian missions in countries including Democratic Republic of Congo, Sudan, Burundi, Pakistan and Nigeria. She has an undergraduate degree in Philosophy from Cambridge University, and a Master’s degree in Business Strategy, Politics & the Environment from Birkbeck College, University of London. She is also a Chartered Accountant.
Chris Locke is the Founder of Caribou Digital. He is also a Visiting Fellow at the University of California, San Diego's Center on Emerging and Pacific Economies, and Digital Ambassador to the United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF). Caribou Digital works with development organisations to build digital economies in emerging markets, helping to take critical mobile services covering health, agri, money and learning tools to scale at a nationwide level. Mr Locke was previously the Managing Director of GSMA Mobile for Development. He has spent the past 15 years working in the mobile and internet industries for companies including the Virgin Group, Three, AOL and T-Mobile. Previous to his industry career, he was the Xerox Lecturer in Electronic Communication and Publishing at University College London, and has maintained strong links to the research community. He is co-editor of Thumb Culture: The Meaning of Mobile Phones in Society, an anthology of research considering the global social effect of mobile technology.
Miguel J. Martins is the founder of reNEW. He has decades of experience in international development, finance, innovation and sustainability across emerging markets and developed economies. Through reNEW, he works with a number of key private sector players in Portugal, advising them on how to design or reinvent their innovation and sustainability strategy while reshaping their current business models.
Between 2000-2019, Miguel worked at IFC where he held a number of positions in the Investment, Advisory and Knowledge & Learning departments. He led a number of flagship programmes actively structuring sustainability strategies for financial institutions and stock exchanges in Latin America, and piloted a series of programmes in South-East Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa, leading a wide array of stakeholders towards the greening of agriculture value chains. He also actively participated, as an executive member, in innovation and technology committees across the World Bank Group.
Miguel was a founding member of the FT/IFC Transformational Business Awards, which he also co-managed, in partnership with the Financial Times, between 2005 and 2019. In addition, since 2015, Miguel has been an Instructor at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design, where he designed and delivers the Executive Education Happy Cities Program, consisting of three modules: Smart (focus on technology), Future Cities (focus on sustainability) and Happy Cities (focus on innovation, new business models, and sustainability metrics).
Miguel started his career in the financial industry in 1987 as Manager for the International Relations Group of Banco Comercial Português (BCP) in Portugal, and in 1995 moved to Mozambique to help create Banco Internacional de Moçambique, a start-up bank jointly owned by BCP and the Mozambican Government and now Mozambique’s largest bank, where he was the Director for its International and Treasury Divisions.
Henrik Skovby is the former Global Managing Partner and founder of Dalberg. In his current capacity as Chairman of Dalberg Group, most of his time is dedicated to industry innovation and establishing new business lines under the Dalberg brand. As a strategy consultant, Mr Skovby's main focus has been corporate strategy and organisational reforms. He has led a series of institutional reviews in the development sector and has been involved in launching several global commissions and thought leadership initiatives. Prior to Dalberg, Mr Skovby worked at McKinsey & Company, where his focus was financial and public institutions. He began his professional career with the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), where he worked on project management, budget matters, and strategic positioning of the organisation. Mr Skovby holds a Master's of Public Administration degree from Harvard University, a degree in Business Economics from Copenhagen Business School, and an undergraduate degree in Political Science from University of Aarhus.
The Transformational Business Awards are open to all financial and non-financial private sector organisations, as well as NGOs that can meet the judging criteria. The focus is on specific projects and transactions and the impact those initiatives have or promise to have on the problems they are targeting.
While the focus of all categories is on transformational impact in developing economies, the awards are also open to projects that address similar market deficiencies in the developed world and that could be replicated in severely under-supplied regions.
The aim is to recognise, showcase and reward private sector innovation, impact, replicability, financial viability and sustainability across a number of key areas identified in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The SDGs are designed to achieve by 2030 the eradication of poverty in all its forms, as well as protect the planet from degradation, and generally ensure that all human beings can enjoy prosperous and fulfilling lives.
Special attention will be given by the judging panel to initiatives that address climate change, and/or harness disruptive technologies and business models to achieve impact and scale. Innovative financing solutions, including best practice in impact investing, will also be recognised.
Entries are particularly welcome from institutional investors and other large holders of capital that support the SDGs, and from organisations with initiatives that may provide solutions in fragile and conflict-affected states and the world’s poorest countries.
Projects or transactions must have passed the implementation stage and result in measurable impact. They must be financially viable now or potentially within five years of implementation. Only initiatives that have been implemented since 2014 will be eligible. Start-ups with innovative solutions and a clear roadmap to financial sustainability are encouraged to apply.
Core categories for 2020
Transformational Solutions in Urban Infrastructure
This award relates to Sustainable Development Goal 9 “Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialisation and foster innovation”, and Goal 11 “Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable”. It highlights projects that address the most crucial infrastructure needs in the fast-growing cities of the developing world, with long-term socio-economic impact. This category is open to private sector businesses only, but recognises the importance of public-private partnerships in infrastructure and builds on the success of the award for City-Led Transformation, established in partnership with Cities Alliance from 2015 to 2017.
Transformational Solutions in Food, Water and Land
This award relates to Sustainable Development Goal 2 “End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture”, and Goal 6: “Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all”, with an additional emphasis on access to land, land tenure rights, land management, and land governance – all critical for the achievement of both food and water security.
Transformational Solutions in Health, Wellness and Disease Prevention
This award relates to Sustainable Development Goal 3: “Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages”. Although significant strides have been made in increasing life expectancy in developing economies, much more needs to be done to reduce the mortality rate, particularly among mothers and infants; improve the delivery of medicines, healthcare and health education; reduce the impact of a wide range of diseases; and rapidly address new and emerging health issues. Special attention will be given to innovative, replicable business models that improve the quality and cost-effectiveness of healthcare delivery.
Transformational Solutions in Education, Knowledge and Skills
This award relates to Sustainable Development Goal 4: “Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all”, with an additional emphasis on the provision of skills-based training that will empower young people, help them gain employment, and also help entrepreneurs secure their livelihoods, in line with Goal 8: “Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all.”
Special Award: Innovating for the Most Vulnerable and Disadvantaged
Inclusion is a major factor across a number of the Sustainable Development Goals, whether the focus is education, employment, housing or access to finance. This new category will showcase solutions that harness the power of innovation and technology to ensure inclusion among the most marginalised and vulnerable groups, including the disabled, refugees from conflict and persecution, and those that are excluded due to their gender, age, location, caste, religion or sexual identity. Special attention will be given to initiatives that give access to affordable assistive technologies, bridge the digital divide, and reduce stigma and discrimination.
Overall Awards for 2020
Excellence in Disruptive Technologies
This award will recognise the short-listed initiative that stands apart across all categories for its ground-breaking use of new technology and the strength of its disruptive approach to markets and business models.
Excellence in Climate Solutions
This award will recognise the short-listed entry that across all categories most effectively addresses one or more of the effects of climate change in the context of a developing economy, or that can be replicated in a developing economy.
Excellence in Transformational Finance and Impact Investing
This award will recognise the short-listed entry that stands out across all categories for its innovative financing approach. Special attention will be given to entries that embrace best practice in impact investing, and blended solutions that bring together diverse sources of capital.
Excellence in Transformational Business
This prize will be awarded to the initiative that in the opinion of the judging panel stands apart among the winners of all categories for its level of innovation, impact, replicability, financial viability and sustainability in the context of a developing economy.
Submissions are welcomed from Impact Investors on all categories.
The programme is open to all financial and non-financial private sector organisations. Start-ups with innovative solutions and a clear roadmap to financial sustainability are encouraged to apply. On the financing side, special attention will be given to entries that embrace best practice in impact investing.
We welcome entries from productive sector companies, investment institutions and advisory firms involved in projects addressing key challenges in urbanisation, climate, education, healthcare, technology, food and water security, and inclusion with respect to developing economies, including:
- Infrastructure developers
- Energy companies
- Engineering companies
- Technology companies
- Healthcare providers
- Pharmaceutical companies
- Design houses
- Pension funds
- Sovereign wealth funds
- Life insurance companies
- Impact investors
- Private equity firms
- Investment banks
- Fund managers
If your entry is short-listed in one of the awards categories:
- Your organisation and the initiative that has been short-listed will be promoted in an advertisement in the global FT newspaper and through FT Live social media channels
- You will be invited to attend the FT/IFC Transformational Business Awards dinner, where the winners in each category will be announced.
- All short-listed entries are presented in detail at the Awards dinner before the winners are revealed. You will also be able to network with other organisations short-listed for the awards.
If the judging panel selects your entry as a winner in one of the categories:
- Your organisation and the award-winning initiative will be promoted in an advertisement in the global FT newspaper and through FT Live social media channels
- A summary of your entry will be featured on the Awards website
Transformational Solutions in Urban Infrastructure
Winner: Lithium Urban Technologies Electric Vehicle Transportation Services
Special Commendee: Rensource Distributed Renewable-Based Energy to Urban Micro SMEs
Transformational Solutions in Food, Water and Land
Winner: TIPA Compostable Flexible Packaging Solutions
Special Commendee: Neat Eco-Feeds High Protein Feed and Compost
Transformational Solutions in Health, Wellness and Disease Prevention
Winner: MobileODT EVA System for Cervical Cancer Screening
Special Commendee: Healthy.io Smartphone Camera Urinalysis
Transformational Solutions in Education, Knowledge and Skills
Winner: SIS Budget Schools Vertical Collaboration Ecosystem
Special Commendee: Nova Pioneer Schools for Innovators and Leaders
Special Award: Innovating for Disability
Winner: Amparo Confidence Socket
Special Commendee: TuneFork Smart Device-Based Hearing Loss Diagnostic
Overall Award: Excellence in Circular Economy Innovation
Winner: Neat Eco-Feeds High Protein Feed and Compost
Overall Award: Excellence in Disruptive Technologies
Winner: N-Drip Gravity Micro Irrigation
Overall Award: Excellence in Climate Solutions
Winner: Rensource Distributed Renewable-Based Energy to Urban Micro SMEs
Overall Award: Excellence in Transformational Business
Winner: Lithium Urban Technologies Electric Vehicle Transportation Services
"The FT/IFC Award is one of the industry-leading recognition programs, and receiving a commendation was a great honor. Our stakeholders definitely took notice of that, and shortly after the announcement, we had secured the largest-ever financing round of $90 million, including the extension of our OPIC facility for a total of $50 million. The award became a critical part of our story of excellence."
Ron Margalit, Principal of Impact Investments, Nova Lumos (in partnership with OPIC)
Highly Commended, 2016 FT/IFC Transformational Business Awards/Achievement in Low-Carbon Urban Transformation
"Winning the Award was a great acknowledgement of our business model. Our brand has grown, boosted by this award, and is carving a niche in the global space. The companies thinking of applying should know the awards not only raise their credibility, but also drive the awareness of their business and unlock opportunities to connect with other industries and clients."
“This credibility is now helping us to fundraise and find new partners and investors to build our company and put money into African agriculture.”
Alloysius Attah, Co-Founder and CEO, Farmerline
Winner, 2016 FT/IFC Transformational Business Awards/Achievement in Sustainable Development/Sustainable Agriculture
"Winning the FT/IFC Transformational Business Award has boosted our reputation and awareness internationally including some global organizations showing interest in our work”.
Anuj Sharma, CEO, Piramal Sarvajal
Winner, 2016 FT/IFC Transformational Business Awards/Achievement in Transformational Technology
“Winning the FT/IFC Transformational Business Award has helped us gain credibility in the market and show that food waste is a solvable problem – not just for our customers but for the broader society. IFC and FT are at the forefront of sustainable development and business thought leadership, so to have their recognition was a great honor.”
“For a small company like ours, getting validated by organizations like the FT and IFC lends credibility to our conversations with large corporations and governments, and helps get a seat at these tables to drive growth.”
Marc Zornes, Founder, Winnow Solutions
Winner, 2017 FT/IFC Transformational Business Awards/Achievement in Sustainable Development/Food, Water and Land
“We were delighted that our vision for Africa was so well received by our peers. It opened doors to potential clients, investors, policy makers and regulators. This recognition has been especially important as we’ve begun fundraising for our second fund, which will support the installation of up to 50 MW of solar for African businesses.”
Matt Tilleard, Managing Partner, CrossBoundary Energy
Winner, 2017 FT/IFC Transformational Business Awards, Excellence in Climate Solutions
“Winning has opened many doors for us, allowing us to reach more potential partners and drive our growth. It also helped us triple our web traffic from 80,000 a month before the win to 250,000 a month later.”
Henry Motte-Munoz, Co-Founder and CEO, Edukasyon.ph
Winner, 2017 FT/IFC Transformational Business Awards/Achievement in Sustainable Development/Education
“Winning helped Huochebang gain additional interest and attention outside of China. We received inquiries from foreign investors as well as related companies for potential cooperation.”
Winner, 2017 FT/IFC Transformational Business Awards/Achievement in Transformational Agriculture
Who can apply?
The Transformational Business Awards are open to all private sector organisations – financial and non-financial. Social enterprises can also apply if they meet the judging criteria, including the financial viability of the project highlighted.
What is the cost to enter?
There is no cost to enter the awards.
Can transactions-in-progress be submitted or do they have to have been completed and in the implementation stage?
Projects or transactions must have passed the implementation stage.
Should transactions have been completed in 2019 or can applications cover transactions from an earlier date? If so, how far back?
Only initiatives that have been implemented since 2014 will be eligible.
Do transactions have to be financially viable?
Projects or transactions must be financially viable now or potentially within five years of implementation.
Are only transactions in emerging markets allowed?
No, transactions or programmes active in developed economies can be submitted, as long as they have potential replicability in severely under-supplied regions.
What will the judges be looking for?
Our panel will be assessing your entry against judging criteria, which are downloadable from the Awards website.
The questions in the entry forms are designed to match the criteria.
If you can't find the answer to your question, please feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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The Financial Times is one of the world’s leading business news organisations, recognised internationally for its authority, integrity and accuracy. The FT has a record paying readership of one million, three-quarters of which are digital subscriptions. It is part of Nikkei Inc., which provides a broad range of information, news and services for the global business community.
IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, is the largest global development institution focused on the private sector in emerging markets. Working with 2,000 businesses worldwide, we use our six decades of experience to create markets and opportunities where they are needed most. In FY16, our long-term investments in developing countries rose to nearly $19bn, leveraging our capital, expertise and influence to help the private sector end extreme poverty and boost shared prosperity.
IFC offers products and services and leverages products and services of other institutions in the World Bank Group to provide development solutions customised to meet clients’ needs. We apply our financial resources, technical expertise, global experience, and innovative thinking to help our partners overcome financial and operational challenges. Clients view IFC as a provider and mobiliser of scarce capital, knowledge, and long-term partnerships that can help address critical constraints in areas such as finance, infrastructure, employee skills, and the regulatory environment. IFC is also a leading mobiliser of third-party resources for its projects. Our willingness to engage in difficult environments and our leadership in crowding-in private finance enable us to extend our footprint and have a development impact well beyond our direct resources. For more information, visit www.ifc.org
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Toniic is the global action community for impact investors. We serve individuals, family offices, foundations and funds. We increase the velocity of money and services into impact investing to address global challenges. Our members commit to discover, evaluate, nurture and invest in financial products – in all asset classes – that promote a just and sustainable economy. Through the 100%IMPACT members of Toniic, we share portfolios and learn, together, how to best align financial assets with personal values.
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