New Alliance Launched at World Economic Forum to Help Social Entrepreneurs Overcome Impacts of COVID-19

Forty leading global organizations have united to launch the COVID Response Alliance for Social Entrepreneurs, pooling knowledge, experience and responses to alleviate suffering and advance new models of change for a more inclusive, equitable and sustainable world.

Social entrepreneurs and their community partners have been working for years to solve market failures and demonstrate more sustainable and inclusive models. These front-line organizations now face bankruptcy and severe constraints while they also innovate and respond to this global pandemic. Through this alliance, members are committing support for social entrepreneurs to protect decades of work in the impact sector,” said François Bonnici, Director and Head of the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship at the World Economic Forum.

Alliance members currently support more than 15,000 social entrepreneurs helping 1.5 billion people cumulatively in over 190 countries, working to serve the needs of excluded, marginalized and vulnerable groups – many of whom have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic. The alliance also aims to coordinate between member organizations and amplify the support for social entrepreneurs under extreme stress by the pandemic.

Organizations in the alliance have already announced USD$75 million in response to the health and economic impacts of the pandemic. “The Skoll Foundation has committed to quadrupling our grant-making this year to respond to the COVID-19 crisis,” said Don Gips, Chief Executive Officer, Skoll Foundation. “We hope that this alliance will encourage others to join us in expanding support to social entrepreneurs and convincing governments of the critical leadership role that social entrepreneurs play in the response and recovery from this global pandemic.”

The COVID Response Alliance for Social Entrepreneurs will coordinate support for social entrepreneurs in four key ways:

  • Assess and highlight needs across the members’ social enterprise portfolios
  • Amplify and expand available financial support under a joint alliance dashboard and help social entrepreneurs to raise additional money to expand their work
  • Coordinate non-financial support provided by companies and intermediaries, such as social procurement, legal services and technological support
  • Advance joint communication efforts to advocate for appropriate fiscal and policy interventions relevant to social entrepreneurs

This initiative will also feature Covidcap.com, a new resource developed by the Center for the Advancement of Social Entrepreneurship (CASE) at Duke University. This dashboard, a searchable database of emergency funds available to non-profit and for-profit entrepreneurs during COVID-19, contains global capital relief offers worth over $1 trillion.

The economic fallout from COVID-19 could push half a billion more people into poverty. Social entrepreneurs are the de facto social net in many emerging economies. We need to intervene to help them before it’s too late,” said Saskia Bruysten, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Yunus Social Business.

The growing list of foundations, sector organizations, multilateral organizations, private companies and non-governmental organizations joining the Alliance include: Aavishkaar Group, Acumen, Africa Venture Philanthropy Alliance (AVPA), Aspen Network of Development Entrepreneurs (ANDE), Ashoka, Asian Venture Philanthropy Network (AVPN), B Lab, Bertelsmann Stiftung, CASE at Duke University, Catalyst 2030, Co-Impact, Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation, Echoing Green, European Venture Philanthropy Association (EVPA), Fundación Avina, GHR Foundation, Global Innovation Fund, Global Steering Group for Impact Investing (GSG), Global Impact Investing Network (GIIN), Greenwood Place, IKEA Foundation, IKEA Social Entrepreneurship, Impact Assets, Impact Hub, Johnson & Johnson, KIVA, LatImpacto, Lex Mundi Pro Bono Foundation, Mercy Corps Ventures, Motsepe Foundation, NESsT, Nonprofit Finance Fund (NFF), Rippleworks, Root Capital, SAP, Schwab Foundation, Skoll Foundation, USAID, Yunus Social Business.

Dimagi is on the front lines, working with governments to carry out community-based contract tracing in the USA and Togo to respond to COVID. But we can’t do it alone – social entrepreneurs are mobilizing to respond to the myriad of massive needs being exposed by the pandemic. We are thrilled to be represented in this alliance through Catalyst 2030 so we can help, inform and steer the alliance towards the needs of social entrepreneurs,” said Jonathan Jackson, Chief Executive Officer, Dimagi, and Co-Chair of Catalyst 2030 Working Group on COVID-19. Catalyst 2030 is a global movement of social-change innovators working collaboratively towards the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals and is strategically partnering with this alliance to represent the voices of social entrepreneurs.

The COVID Response Alliance for Social Entrepreneurs will be supported by a secretariat hosted at the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship, sister organization of the World Economic Forum and its Platform for Global Public Goods. “This alliance continues to strengthen our unwavering mission of sustainable and inclusive progress, which remains critical as business and government shape their response to the current crisis,” notes Dominic Waughray, Managing Director, World Economic Forum

The development of the alliance is supported by the GHR Foundation and is operationally supported by Yunus Social Business, which has been co-developing the initiative. “This pandemic reminds us that our differences in faith, culture or politics are superseded by what we have in common,” said Amy Goldman, Chief Executive Officer and Chair, GHR Foundation, which is helping to underwrite the alliance. “And whether someone is a social entrepreneur or a member of a faith community or both at once, we all share a deep desire to alleviate suffering, support human dignity and help people build a better future. This alliance is going to help people do exactly that.”

Photo: Fair Trade USA

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