The Financial Times and the International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group, announced the winners of the 2021 FT / IFC Transformational Business Awards, a global programme highlighting ground-breaking, long-term private sector solutions to major development issues.

This year’s programme marked 16 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. 

Reflecting efforts around the world to build an environmentally and socially resilient recovery, the 2021 awards recognised initiatives that are using disruptive technologies and impact funds to develop substantive low-carbon solutions to challenges in both urban and rural environments. Innovative financial solutions boosting female empowerment and women-led businesses in underserved communities were also honoured. 

A total of 110 entries were received from all regions of the world. A special prize was awarded to LeapFrog Investments for their pioneering role in impact investing in emerging markets. KOKO Networks won the Excellence in Transformational Business award for its cooking stoves in Kenya that are powered by ATM-delivered bioethanol fuel. 

The awards were presented during a global virtual event on October 26 which also featured thought leaders on climate change, impact investing and supply chains. The Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), Inger Andersen, and the President and CEO of Ingka Group, IKEA, Jesper Brodin, were among the keynote speakers. 

Full list of winners and highly commended:

Transformational Climate Change and Technology Solutions

Winner: KOKO bioethanol cooking fuel ATM network - Kenya

Special Commendee: SunCulture solar-powered water pump and irrigation solutions - Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia, Togo, Côte d'Ivoire, Senegal, Zambia

Transformational Finance Solutions – Impact Investing 

Winner: Camco-managed Renewable Energy Performance Platform (REPP) - Sub-Saharan Africa

Transformational Finance Solutions – Gender-Lens Finance 

Winner: EcoEnterprises gender-smart venture fund for nature (EcoEnterprises Fund III) - Latin America

Special Commendee: BRAC Bank’s TARA women banking services – Bangladesh

Special Award: Pioneer in Transformational Impact

Winner: LeapFrog Investments - Asia, Africa

Overall Award: Excellence in Transformational Business

Winner: KOKO bioethanol cooking fuel ATM network - Kenya

Helen Thomas, Business Columnist of the Financial Times and co-chair of the awards judging panel, said: “I was impressed by the quality and range of the short-listed entries. The judges were excited about how different approaches and business models were being harnessed to tackle difficult problems across such a variety of markets and sectors.”

William Sonneborn, Senior Director, Disruptive Technologies and Funds, at the International Finance Corporation (IFC), and co-chair of the Awards judging panel, said: “The creativity and innovation we saw in the winning entries prove that entrepreneurship is not only an important driver of economic growth, but also a powerful tool that can help us tackle pressing development challenges and accelerate progress in key areas like climate change and gender equality. “

The awards judging panel consisted of:

  • Helen Thomas, Business Columnist, Financial Times (co-chair)
  • William Sonneborn, Senior Director, Disruptive Technologies and Funds, International Finance Corporation (IFC) (co-chair)
  • Samir Abhyankar, Investment Director, Equity, CDC Group
  • Kalipso Chalkidou, Director, Health Financing Department, Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria 
  • Helen Clarkson, CEO, The Climate Group
  • Miguel Martins, Sustainable Investments Partner, Grosvenor House of Investments, and Responsible Leadership and Stakeholder Engagement Global Lead, Systemic, Portugal
  • Kanini Mutooni, Managing Director, Draper Richards Kaplan

For more details on the FT/IFC Transformational Business Awards, please visit where you can watch a replay of the event. 

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For more information, please contact:

Mark Staniland |

Nadya Nikiforova |

About the Financial Times: 

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 more than 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.

About IFC:

IFC—a member of the World Bank Group—is the largest global development institution focused on the private sector in emerging markets. We work in more than 100 countries, using our capital, expertise, and influence to create markets and opportunities in developing countries. In the fiscal year 2021, IFC committed a record $31.5 billion to private companies and financial institutions in developing countries, leveraging the power of the private sector to end extreme poverty and boost shared prosperity as economies grapple with the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. For more information, visit