New Alliance Helps Social Entrepreneurs Overcome the Impacts of COVID-19

$75 million already mobilized by alliance launched at the World Economic Forum
Covid Alliance
Source: Covid Alliance

Geneva, Switzerland, May 4, 2020 – Ashoka is one of 35 leading global organizations that 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," said François Bonnici, Director and Head of the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship at the World Economic Forum. "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.”

Alliance members currently support more than 15,000 social entrepreneurs reaching 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 mobilized $75 million for social entrepreneurs 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, CEO of the 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 “” 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," said Saskia Bruysten, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Yunus Social Business. Social entrepreneurs are the de-facto social net in many emerging economies. We need to intervene to help them, before it's too late."

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
  • Avina
  • Asian Venture Philanthropy Network (AVPN)
  • B Lab
  • Bertelsmann Group / Stiftung
  • Catalyst 2030
  • Co-Impact
  • Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation
  • CASE at Duke University
  • Echoing Green
  • 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 Hub
  • KIVA
  • LatImpacto
  • Lex Mundi Pro Bono Foundation
  • Mercy Corps Ventures
  • Motsepe Foundation
  • NeSst, Non-Profit Finance Fund (NFF)
  • Ripple Works
  • Root Capital
  • SAP SE
  • Schwab Foundation
  • Skoll Foundation
  • Yunus Social Business

“Dimagi is supporting the front lines, carrying out community-based contract tracing by working with governments and in the USA and Togo to respond to COVID. But we can’t do it alone – social entrepreneurs are mobilising 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.”, says Jonathan Jackson, CEO of 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 SDGs 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 organisation of the World Economic Forum. The development of the Alliance is supported by the GHR Foundation, and is operationally supported by Yunus Social Business, who have 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, CEO and Chair of the GHR Foundation, which is helping 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.”