Highlights & Updates


Martina Szabo

Leaders on the Front Line: COVID Social Enterprise Action Agenda

In early May, the World Economic Forum co-initiated the COVID Response Alliance for Social Entrepreneurs. The Alliance brings together over 60 different social sector organisations that reach over 50,000 social entrepreneurs worldwide, impacting 1 billion people. Today, the Alliance has launched the Leaders on the Front Line: COVID Social Enterprise Action Agenda.

The Action Agenda outlines 5 core COVID-response principles for those seeking to support social entrepreneurs

Image: World Economic Forum

With those principles in mind, the Alliance also recommends several actions, including for:

  • Intermediaries and networks to surface the needs of the social entrepreneurs they serve on the ground and provide them with fitting support
  • (Impact) investors to adapt their investment priorities and processes, and provide flexible capital and must-have technical assistance
  • Corporations to stand with the social entrepreneurs in their supply chains and ecosystems, and join forces with them to shape a new tomorrow
  • Funders and philanthropists to expand and expedite their financial support to social entrepreneurs and intermediaries, taking risks reflective of today’s unprecedented times
  • Government institutions at all levels to recognize social entrepreneurs as a driving force in safeguarding jobs and in building a greener and equitable society, and to back them accordingly.

The five COVID response principles and recommended areas of action will serve as a guide to the work of the Alliance into 2021. Collectively, Alliance members will seek to:

  • Welcome new commitments from business, government and philanthropy in support of social entrepreneurs
  • Mobilize the sector to take further action on the areas of work outlined in this report
  • Promote collaborative approaches and public-private cooperation jointly with social entrepreneurs
  • Reinforce key messages and evidence through advocacy platforms and media
  • Track responses and progress on this Action Agenda
Image: World Economic Forum

Over the last 6 months social entrepreneurs have been a vital actor in fighting the health and economic effects of the pandemic. Particularly in developing countries they have been the safety net, keeping the poorest employed and ensuring basic delivery of essential services, while many governments have failed to deliver. Many of these front-line organisations now face bankruptcy themselves. A recent report from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation revealed that already 37 million people in developing countries have slipped back into extreme poverty, reversing 25 years of development within 25 weeks. If we want economies to ‘build back better,’ it is vital that we support social entrepreneurs now.

Interested to learn more? Ready to join the members of the Alliance in action? Take a look at the Alliance website and read the Action Agenda to learn more, and follow via social media:

Special Webinar on COVID-19 Testing and Policies for the Workplace

"If you run a business today, there have been essentially zero benchmarking studies that show how companies are reacting to testing"

—Mara Aspinall, Professor of Practice Co-founder, Biomedical Diagnostics Program, College of Health Solutions, Arizona State University

In July, in partnership with Arizona State University’s College of Health Solutions and with support from The Rockefeller Foundation, we launched a Covid-19 Workplace Commons initiative with the aim of creating a global information hub where employers can access the latest data on testing policies and share best practices about how to safely bring employees back to the workplace.

Last week, a first webinar kicked off a series of discussions to help companies navigate the difficult decisions related to bringing employees back to their work environments. Employers large and small are faced with a set of common challenges:

  • a large proportion of COVID-19 infected patients are asymptomatic
  • there often are not enough tests available
  • there are not enough protocols to guide decision-makers in high risk and other settings
  • there is little understanding about the best way employers can use tests and screening policies to bring their employees back to the workplace

According to experts Mara Aspinall, Professor of Practice and Co-founder, Biomedical Diagnostics Program, College of Health Solutions, Arizona State University and Mark McClellan, Robert J. Margolis Professor of Business, Medicine, and Health Policy, Founding Director of Duke-Margolis Center for Health Policy, Duke University, effective testing and screening strategies need to consider the following:

1) Type of tests and screening tools used (sensitivity and specificity)

2) Frequency of testing among employees

3) Time from sample to results (turnaround time)

These three considerations come in addition to key questions of cost, availability, sample type, and staffing.

Take a look at the webinar below and preview the Workplace Commons Dashboard to find out more about what safety measures are most common and critical decision factors for employers to consider, including how to think about costs associated with testing and screening, who administers the tests, and who pays for them.

The next webinars in the COVID Diagnostics Commons Series are scheduled for: October 8, November 5, and December 3, 2020.

Learn more about the Workplace Commons initiative here. All employers are invited to contribute to the effort.

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