Innovative Project Finalists 2019

City of Vancouver, (Canada) 

Summary of entry 
The City of Vancouver is implementing a Social Value Procurement Framework in its procurement of resources and relationships. This is with a view to increasing economic opportunities accessible for all citizens, improving their independence and capacity while advancing reconciliation, equity, inclusion, diversity and wellbeing. The Framework is contributing to a diversified supply chain as well as economic benefit for the city. 

Judges’ comments 
The ambition of Vancouver to award 50% of its contracts to social and diverse businesses by 2023, under its Social Value Procurement Framework, is both inspirational and commendable. It is being implemented in a sensitive way that will increase economic opportunities for all its diverse citizen groups. 

Hindustan Unilever Limited (HUL), (India) 

Summary of entry 
Hindustan Unilever Limited (HUL) is India’s largest fast-moving consumer goods company with a heritage of over 80 years. Project Shakti is HUL’s door-to-door selling operation, which financially empowers women in rural India by helping them become micro entrepreneurs, equipping them to sell Unilever products in low income rural communities. 

Judges’ comments 
The Shakti programme is an impressive initiative that, to date, has financially empowered more than 100,000 women in rural India. By teaching them various aspects of how to run a retail business, from inventory to distribution management, it has increased the average income of a Shakti household and enhanced the lives and status of the women within their communities. 

Sainsbury’s Supermarkets Ltd, (UK) 

Summary of entry 
In 2016, Sainsbury’s embarked on a review and value chain analysis of tuna sourcing, to ensure that business volume requirements could be sustained in a cost-effective way while meeting sourcing policy. As part of the process, Sainsbury’s worked with OceanMind to understand and develop its digital capability. Satellite-derived fishing vessel data and other relevant data sources are now utilised to independently verify legality and specific method of capture. This innovative approach facilitated the realisation of commercial benefit, mitigated supply and reputational risks associated with illegal fishing, and provided robust assurance relating to responsible sourcing for customers.

Judges’ comments 
This pioneering initiative offers tremendous potential for retailers globally to embrace sustainable fishing practices. Sainsbury’s can-do attitude in finding a solution to verify legal tuna fishing, when many stakeholders perceived this would not be possible, and its partnership with OceanMind, is to be commended. 

SteamaCo, (UK) 

Summary of entry 
SteamaCo makes smart meters that have been tailored to the needs of energy suppliers in rural Africa so that they can supply unconnected communities without loss of payments. Their innovative design features allow them to operate anywhere by allowing SMS for data transfers. SteamaCo aims for its smart meters to be a key player in cutting carbon emissions and improving the social and economic quality of life for people in unconnected communities. Finance has played a key role in developing the low-cost meters. 

Judges’ comments 
SteamaCo is helping to build the energy grids of the future through its advanced smart meters. They are connecting the unconnected to renewable supplies of electricity and improving their social and economic quality of life. The result is an end-to-end solution that provides revenue protection for energy suppliers, a return on capital for investors and the opportunity for consumers to manage their energy use. 

Xylem Inc., (US) 

Summary of entry 
Xylem (XYL) is a global water technology company committed to developing innovative technology solutions to the world’s water challenges. It has established a five year unsecured sustainability-linked Revolving Credit Facility of $800m. The facility’s interest rate is index-linked to Xylem Inc.’s overall sustainability performance as rated by Sustainalytics, an independent global provider of environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) ratings. Improvements in Xylem Inc.’s sustainability performance will reduce interest rates under the facility. 

Judges’ comments 
Xylem’s commitment to improve its own performance on ESG is impressive. It’s sustainability-linked $800m five-year revolving credit will be assessed independently by Sustainalytics. This new approach, one of the first of its kind globally, is creating real internal alignment with its sustainability goals and is attracting positive interest from both investors and business.