Ladderworks is a publishing platform of diverse picture books and online curriculum with the mission to empower over a million kids to become social entrepreneurs. Our current series features interviews by our interplanetary journalist Spiffy with inspiring Social Entrepreneurs, Entrepreneurship Ecosystem Builders, and Changemakers who are advancing the UN SDGs.
Spiffy here with the scoop on the entrepreneurial leaders of Planet Earth. As the only interplanetary journalist stationed on this blue planet, I’m thrilled to present this galactic exclusive with PJ Mistry, Unilever’s TRANSFORM program manager. Let’s learn what’s happening there and how PJ is making a positive impact in the world.
Spiffy: Hi PJ, thanks a million for talking to me today. Tell me, what challenge are you addressing through Unilever?
PJ: Thanks for having me, Spiffy! In order to solve some of the world's biggest challenges (think: SDGs), we need to collaborate across all sectors. TRANSFORM is a unique accelerator which unites corporates, donors, investors, and academics to support visionary social enterprises across Africa, Asia, and beyond. Together, we test and scale new solutions that tackle environmental challenges, improve health and wellbeing, and build inclusive economies. Combining grant funding, business insight, and research, TRANSFORM is accelerating the development of innovative business models to help solve global challenges. It was established in 2015 and is led by Unilever, the UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Office, and EY.
Spiffy: What motivates you to do it?
PJ: I've worked for ten years across two parallel tracks: 1) with Unilever in brand management, building programs and partnerships for the business to work more impactfully, and 2) starting my own organization, Action Accelerator, to build customized programs with SDG-driving non-profits (Enactus, One Young World, BridgingtheGap, UNITE 20230, etc.) that enable delegates to take ideas sparked at their events and accelerate them into business plans. I have primarily worked on both ends of the spectrum (early stage innovators <-> large, complex global organizations), but I am keen to bring these experiences together and work at the corporate/start-up intersection for the next stage of my career. I want to do this because I feel this is where the magic happens.
Spiffy: What is the impact of your work?
PJ: TRANSFORM aims to improve the lives of low-income households. We TRANSFORM lives by tackling global challenges through life-changing enterprise.
Spiffy: Tell me about a recent organization milestone or initiative. What impact does it make on your audience/community?
PJ: A really nice example of our work across sectors which benefits everyone involved is our recent support of the Bhumijo enterprise in Bangladesh: "TRANSFORM’s grant enabled the business to expand the number of toilets, and to test different revenue models to see how they could get to profitability. Now, as a result of that testing, Bhumijo and Unilever Bangladesh have entered into a commercial agreement where Unilever’s Domestos brand is advertising in 30 of Bhumijo’s toilets. This helpful source of revenue for the enterprise was made possible by the alignment between the two companies. For Unilever’s Domestos brand, their purpose is to win the war against unsafe sanitation and poor hygiene; and Bhumijo does exactly the same thing."
Spiffy: Is there anything else you would love to tell our audience?
PJ: Please see this link to learn more about TRANSFORM's support of Bhumijo.
Spiffy: Thanks for speaking with me today, PJ—it’s been an honor!
PJ Mistry is a choreographer of connection, collaboration, and compassion for each other and Mother Nature. She has worked for Unilever over the past 10 years in brand management and is currently Unilever’s TRANSFORM program manager. She also founded her own organization, Action Accelerator, to support early stage innovators. (First published on the Ladderworks website on June 8, 2023.)
The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the interviewee and do not necessarily reflect those of Ladderworks LLC.
© 2023 Ladderworks LLC. Edited by George Romar. Spiffy’s illustration by Shreyas Navare. For the Ladderworks digital curriculum to help K-3 kids advance the UN SDGs, visit Spiffy's Launchpad: Creative Entrepreneurship Workshops for K-3 Kids and their caregivers here.