EXPERT VIEWS-Not 'business as usual': How can social entrepreneurs fight coronavirus?

by Sarah Shearman | @shearmans | Thomson Reuters Foundation
Friday, 3 April 2020 11:31 GMT

Staff brings bottles of pear and mint alcohol for labelling at Swiss distiller Morand as the company started using their fruit alcohol to produce hand sanitiser to meet local demand during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Martigny, Switzerland, April 1, 2020. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

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We asked experts at the Skoll World Forum how social entrepreneurs can help in the battle against COVID-19

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By Sarah Shearman

LONDON, April 3 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - As leaders who aim to solve a diverse range of problems, from poverty to pollution, social entreprenerus are not afraid to roll up their sleeves and help in a time of crisis.

But as the coronavirus spreads rapidly around the world, prompting governments to take huge measures to protect public health and their economies, what sort of a role can social entrepreneurs play?

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We asked experts attending the Skoll World Forum - that was held virtually this week - how social entrepreneurs can help in the battle against COVID-19.

MICHELLE AREVALO-CARPENTER, CEO AND CO-FOUNDER OF IMPAQTO IN ECUADOR

"The global pandemic will put purpose-driven businesses to the test: will they abandon their impact during hard times or will they double-down and become examples of resilience?

In times of deep crisis comes deep reconsideration about the way we as a society conduct business, so I am placing my bets on the second option: as social businesses, I trust we will show the world that doing well by doing good is the only way forward."

LAURA WEIDMAN POWERS, HEAD OF IMPACT AT ECHOING GREEN IN THE UNITED STATES

"Social entrepreneurs who are proximate to the communities they support have long worked to build a more equitable and inclusive world, making them well-positioned to react nimbly in support of communities marginalized by failing systems throughout this pandemic.

Greatly resourcing these leaders is critical to their impact mid-crisis, but it is just as important that this support continues post-pandemic to provide them the runway to rebuild and re-imagine our collective futures."

EMILY BANCROFT, PRESIDENT OF VILLAGEREACH IN THE UNITED STATES

"Social entrepreneurs are a vital link between coordinated, country-level responses and those looking for active ways to help respond.

This moment of urgency is forcing new levels of trust and collaboration that will hopefully last. We can't afford to snap back into business as usual."

SASKIA BRUYSTEN, CEO OF YUNUS SOCIAL BUSINESS

"It's amazing to see many of our social entrepreneurs adapting their business models - like craft company RangSutra in India now producing masks instead of clothing and fabrics.

But as an impact investing community we need to come together to ensure these companies receive short-term liquidity and payroll relief to survive this crisis."

DON GIPS, CEO OF SKOLL FOUNDATION IN THE UNITED STATES

"Social entrepreneurs are already pivoting to more virtual models, embracing remote learning, combating misinformation, providing mental health support, and supporting critical supply chains.

Many are stepping up in the fight against COVID-19 by partnering with government in different ways."

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(Reporting by Sarah Shearman @Shearmans. Editing by Belinda Goldsmith Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers the lives of people around the world who struggle to live freely or fairly. Visit http://news.trust.org)

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