The FT/IFC Transformational Business Awards and Conference celebrate innovative initiatives that contribute to significant progress in sustainable development around the world.
This year, the events built on the momentum generated by the United Nations’ 2015 Climate Change Conference (COP 21). One focus was on the challenges climate change bring to developing economies, particularly in urban areas, and on groundbreaking private sector solutions that are addressing those threats or have the potential to do so.
Global thought leaders from the public and private sector also debated the role that the private sector can play in meeting the recently adopted Sustainable Development Goals—in particular the targets around food security and health—and how new technology and disruptive models can be applied to tackling global challenges. The awards also reflected these themes.
The two events took place on June 9, in London.
Clean City Transit, China and Europe
Based primarily in China, Microvast have developed, manufactured, and sold battery power solutions to 10,000 electric buses in 26 provinces across China and four European countries. Their latest development is an ultra-fast charging battery pack, MVPACK, specifically designed for use in cars, with a battery life that matches the life of the vehicle. The convenience of this environmentally friendly energy solution is expected to encourage and contribute to the mass adoption of affordable electric vehicles, and the long-term electrification of urban transport systems.
Piramal Sarvajal, India
Piramal Sarvajal designs and deploys innovative technology to ensure safe water access for India’s rural villages. The company installs local, remotely tracked water purification systems, and has built a strong network of “water ATMs”, solar-powered, cloud-connected vending machines that dispense water for villagers at the swipe of a smart card. As the ATMs track every transaction that takes place, they enable sophisticated market forecasting and 24-hour access to water, as well as the possibility to provide targeted subsidies to certain villages through government-run programs.
Marine Protected Areas, Seychelles
NatureVest’s restructuring of the Seychelles’ sovereign debt has converted a portion of this debt back into a local currency payment stream, to be used to support conservation in the local area. The restructuring provides $281,000 per year for marine conservation activities, and will also see the Seychelles increase its marine protected area in return. This collaboration is the first time that private investment capital has been used to finance a debt-for-nature swap, proving that this model is viable and replicable as a conservation method.
Farmerline MERGDATA, Ghana
Farmerline’s technology enables communication with farmers in rural areas that would be otherwise out-of-reach due to barriers in connectivity, literacy, or language. MERGDATA is available via voice technology in local languages, and provides information including agricultural tips, weather data, and market pricing to farmers even in low-connectivity areas.
Farmerline has also developed technology to improve the efficiency of the agricultural value-chain, including GPS mapping of plot size and systems to facilitate mobile money payments.
Kwara State Health Insurance, Nigeria
In order to improve access to primary healthcare—particularly maternal—for the people of rural Kwara, the PharmAccess Foundation has joined forces with the Kwara State Government, insurance company Hygeia Community Health Care, and the Health Insurance Fund. By educating communities about maternal and child care through outreach programs and mobile health initiatives, and facilitating access to this care by enrolling women and children in the subsidized health insurance program, Pharma Access has had a demonstrable impact on local trust in hospitals and health care.
New Taipei City, Taiwan
New Taipei City is a newly established municipality circling Taiwan’s capital Taipei City. The vision of the city reform is to build a “Livable City” that identifies and accommodates the needs of its people. Innovative policies have included the Happiness Protection Station, where children of disadvantaged families get free meal boxes in convenience stores, and the Department of Social Welfare can then collect the data and reach out to the families in need.
This experiment in modern-age urbanization is citizen-oriented and has encouraged public participation in effective governance, inviting members of the public to be part of committees in major policy areas to enable citizens’ input at every stage of policy planning.