CARE has worked with Unilever since 2018, starting with a collaboration around the company’s Shakti sales program. In 2020, CARE International joined Unilever and DFID’s Hygiene Behaviour Change Coalition (HBCC) which was created as a rapid response to the COVID-19 crisis to help address the pandemic in low- and middle-income countries.


Between 2018 and 2020, CARE and Unilever partnered in Guatemala to deliver skills training and community engagement to support women to become successful entrepreneurs within Unilever’s Shakti sales channel. As part of this pilot, CARE and Unilever conducted a study to understand the relationship between violence against women and the potential benefits of participation in Shakti in reducing and responding to violence. Insights from the study found that Shakti offers a platform to build awareness of rights and support for women experiencing violence, however in some cases violence at home against women is limiting the impact of Shakti. For example, 16% of entrepreneurs were prevented by their husbands from attending Shakti training sessions and before the CARE/Shakti training, more than 70% of women had never previously learned about gender-based violence and their associated rights.

To address these challenges, in November 2020 CARE and Unilever expanded the partnership to focus on designing women’s safety guidance and recommendations for Shakti markets and supporting this with entrepreneurship skills training for Shakti women. The guidance and training will be validated through in-depth analysis and gender needs assessments in two key Shakti markets in 2021.


Naha Younes, a Syrian refugee living in Jordan and a mother of 9 children playing with her kids Snakes and Ladders.
Naha Younes, a Syrian refugee living in Jordan and a mother of 9 children playing with her kids Snakes and Ladders. A game developed by CARE to reflect COVID-19 safety and healthy measurers in a fun and interactive way for every family member.

The Hygiene & Behaviour Change Coalition (HBCC) is a partnership between Unilever and the UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) aimed at curbing the spread of COVID-19 among the world’s most vulnerable populations in low- and middle-income countries through the promotion of handwashing and good hygiene. Set-up by Unilever and DFID in March 2020, the Coalition brings together the private sector, NGOs, UN organisations and academics to urgently tackle the spread of COVID-19. The goal of the programme is to improve personal and environmental hygiene to reduce the transmission of the disease and its impact. Globally, the HBCC programme has reached as many as one billion people with information about proper handwashing and surface disinfection as a tool to prevent transmission of COVID-19.  
The HBCC represents a contribution of up to £100 million; up to £50m of FCDO funding alongside £50m of in-kind funding from Unilever which includes hygiene products, access to hygiene educational materials, campaigns and communications expertise to the UK’s COVID-19 response to tackling the pandemic in low- and middle-income countries. The HBCC uses a three-pronged approach which includes mass communications, behaviour change programmes, and digital solutions focused on hand and environmental hygiene. The HBCC draws on Unilever’s extensive commercial experience in behaviour change, as well as the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM)’s technical and scientific advice about behaviour change and programme development.  
As an HBCC partner, CARE International UK is implementing essential pandemic response programming in the most vulnerable and hardest-hit communities in five countries between July 2020 and July 2021. CARE expects to reach 20 million people over the course of the programme: 

  • Jordan: Refugees in the Azraq camp as well as non-refugee populations in urban centres; 
  • North East Syria: IDP’s, returnees and those within hosting communities;  
  • Somalia: IDP’s as well as mobile and sedentary communities with support from BBC Media Action;  
  • Rwanda: people in rural and hardest to reach communities with the support of African Evangelistic Enterprise Rwanda & Ni Nyampinga (Girl Effect Rwanda);  
  • Zimbabwe: people in the most remote and rural locations.