6 ways social innovators are responding to the COVID-19 pandemic

wheel chairs

(Kelvin Ang, Unsplash)

This article is brought to you thanks to the collaboration of The European Sting with the World Economic Forum.

Author: François Bonnici, Head of Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship, World Economic Forum & Pavitra Raja, Community Specialist, Social Entrepreneurs – Europe and the Americas, World Economic Forum


  • The COVID-19 pandemic increases the need for social innovations to help those most vulnerable.
  • Here are six examples of social innovators creating solutions, from communicating facts, offering telehealth services and creating microfinance loans.

Social innovators, disruptors in the service of others in situations where traditional actors or the market have failed, are needed more than ever in the current COVID-19 pandemic. This is especially true as the health and economic impacts hit the excluded, vulnerable and those in the informal economy the hardest.

From creating biometric identification systems to developing innovative ways to deliver microfinance loans, here are six innovative ways Schwab Foundation social innovators are addressing the COVID-19 pandemic.

What is the World Economic Forum doing to champion social innovation?

Innovative social entrepreneurs are addressing the world’s most serious challenges ranging from illiteracy to girls’ education and disaster relief. To achieve maximum impact and start to address root causes, they need greater visibility, credibility, access to finance, favourable policy decisions, and in some cases a better understanding of global affairs.

The Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship is supporting more than 350 late-stage social entrepreneurs. By providing an unparalleled global platform, the Foundation’s goal is to highlight and expand innovative models of social innovation. It helps strengthen and grow the field of social enterprise by showcasing best-in-class examples, models for replication and cutting-edge research on social innovation.

Our global network of experts, partner institutions, and World Economic Forum constituents and business members are invited to nominate outstanding social entrepreneurs. Get in touch to become a member or partner of the World Economic Forum.

1. Making facts easily accessible

Fundación Capital in Colombia is a social enterprise that works to improve the financial lives of people living in poverty around the world. It designs and delivers solutions that make families more economically resilient, working with governments and financial institutions to co-create economic and productive opportunities. Leveraging digital technologies, research, and a growing network of stakeholders, it works to improve systems and change lives.

Fundación Capital has realigned its chatbots and virtual assistants to provide assistance and information to the most vulnerable population on official government information; crisis management; practical advice and preventive measures in physical and psychological health: and financial resilience – managing finances in times of crisis.

Image: World Health Organization

2. Developing telehealth services

AlTibbi is a digital-health platform in the Middle East and North Africa region, that aims to present reliable, up-to-date and simplified medical information to users in the region in Arabic. The website features thousands of medical articles, a medical glossary, a section that is dedicated to questions and answers, the latest news in medicine, telehealth services and consultations with certified doctors.

In collaboration with the Ministry of Health and sponsored by Hikma Pharmaceuticals, Altibi has launched a Corona dedicated hotline that is accessible to all Jordanians. By dialing 111, users can get connected to certified doctors. If a person is experiencing flu-like symptoms or has general concerns, they can obtain a medical assessment from the comfort of their own home without putting themselves or others at risk.

 

3. Scaling community-based screening

As frontline workers play an important role in the COVID-19 response, there is a growing demand for digital platforms to support community-based efforts. To help meet this need, Dimagi, based in the US, is giving pro bono subscriptions to its an open-source mobile data platform, CommCare, to all COVID-19 response applications through May 2021. Dimagi has also provided a comprehensive description of how CommCare can help with COVID-19 response, including helping with surveillance, case management, contact tracking and laboratory data management.

A key challenge in the pandemic response in low-resource areas is the inability to identify patients, track cases, or maintain disease surveillance. In such areas, biometric digital identities can be a game-changer for pandemic control. Simprints has successfully deployed its biometric patient ID system with health workers in 12 countries and is adding a contactless mode that has demonstrated high levels of accuracy in field tests across sub-Saharan Africa. Accelerated development could see it ready for partners to use in the response to COVID-19 in the coming months.

What is the World Economic Forum doing about the coronavirus outbreak?

A new strain of Coronavirus, COVID 19, is spreading around the world, causing deaths and major disruption to the global economy.

Responding to this crisis requires global cooperation among governments, international organizations and the business community, which is at the centre of the World Economic Forum’s mission as the International Organization for Public-Private Cooperation.

The Forum has created the COVID Action Platform, a global platform to convene the business community for collective action, protect people’s livelihoods and facilitate business continuity, and mobilize support for the COVID-19 response. The platform is created with the support of the World Health Organization and is open to all businesses and industry groups, as well as other stakeholders, aiming to integrate and inform joint action.

As an organization, the Forum has a track record of supporting efforts to contain epidemics. In 2017, at our Annual Meeting, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) was launched – bringing together experts from government, business, health, academia and civil society to accelerate the development of vaccines. CEPI is currently supporting the race to develop a vaccine against this strand of the coronavirus.

4. Focusing on the most vulnerable

Senior Citizen Home Safety Association (SCHSA) is a self-financing social enterprise and charitable organization in Hong Kong that offers 24-hour personal care and emergency assistance services to the elderly, a high-risk group during this pandemic, and others in need. During the COVID-19 pandemic, SCHSA is donating and delivering masks and related cleansing material to underprivileged aged people.

5. Prioritising mental health and well-being

Crisis Text Line is a global not-for-profit organization that provides free confidential crisis intervention via SMS message. In moments, one could be connected and receive support from a trained counsellor online. The organization’s services are available 24 hours a day, every day, throughout the US, UK and Canada.

Being quarantined at home with an abuser is a terrible reality some people will face. In response, Crisis Text Line is particularly bracing itself for an increased volume of support for those in situations of child abuse and domestic violence conversation. (Find resources to seek help here.)

6. Protecting livelihoods

Fundación Paraguaya (FP), the first microfinance institution in Paraguay, started in 1995, pioneering financial literacy and entrepreneurial education in Paraguay and adapting junior achievement methodologies to underprivileged youths. During the COVID-19 pandemic, FP is developing new ways to deliver microfinance loans to those who are extremely poor and vulnerable and has been able to reach more than 3,500 village banks and 70,000 microenterprises.

FP has modified its loan conditions and simplified the conditions for its village banks to borrow money and its savings requirements, allowing borrowers to defer their payments without any penalties, implementing phone banking options, and offering borrowers refinancing options. It has also replaced its financial literacy training programs for distance-learning Dengue Fever with COVID-19 awareness classes, as well as classes on understanding fake news.

In times like these, we need social innovators even more – as they are already embedded and empower communities and are responsive with solutions – and they are adapting to the immediate needs of the people they serve.

Advertising

the sting Milestone

Featured Stings

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

ECB with an iron hand disciplines the smaller Eurozone member states; latest victim: Greece

Humanitarian Aid: €10.5 million for South and South East Asia

COP21 Breaking News_05 December: Children Will Bear the Brunt of Climate Change: UNICEF

Brexit kick-off: a historic day for the EU anticlockwise

Why the world needs the youth revolution more than ever

Youth and Decent Work: A Review of Today’s Facts, Challenges and Possible Solutions

A Young entrepreneur cries out: “start in Europe, stay in Europe”

Investing in rural women and girls, ‘essential’ for everyone’s future: UN chief

Plastic is a global problem. It’s also a global opportunity

ECB tied in the anti-monetary German ideology

Libyans continue ‘spilling their blood on the battlefield’ as fight for Tripoli rages on

The metamorphosis of the categorical imperative in medical students

This is why AI has a gender problem

The Eurogroup protects Germany and blames others

London wants new skyscrapers to protect cyclists from wind tunnels

European Youth Forum welcomes establishment of new Youth Intergroup in the European Parliament

Commission paralysed before the banking leviathan

UN experts report: Business ‘dragging its feet’ on human rights worldwide

Israeli settlements remain ‘flagrant violation’ of international law, UN envoy tells Security Council

EU-US to miss 2015 deadline and even lose Germany’s support in TTIP’s darkest week yet

7 ways for businesses to capture the youth dividend

Here’s how a circular economy could change the world by 2030

Prospect of negotiated peace in Afghanistan ‘never been more real’ – UN mission chief

Factory workers are facing a mental health crisis. Here’s how to respond

Ambassador Zhang wishes from Brussels great success and prosperity for the China-EU relations in the Year of the Dog

Libya: UN mobilized to support thousands uprooted by Tripoli clashes, renews call for humanitarian truce

DR Congo: ‘No time to lose’ says newly appointed UN Ebola response coordinator

UN official sees ‘unprecedented opportunities’ to make progress on peace in Afghanistan

Turkey caught in a vicious Syrian circle bringing terror and war at home

Why Eurozone can afford spending for growth

Public health through universal health coverage can help to attain many SDGs

How can we prepare students for the Fourth Industrial Revolution? 5 lessons from innovative schools around the world

Neither side stands to benefit in US-China trade spat, UN says

World-famous cultural institutions closed due to coronavirus are welcoming virtual visitors

Better Regulation principles: at the heart of the EU’s decision-making process

Tax revenues have reached a plateau

Ozone on track to heal completely in our lifetime, UN environment agency declares on World Day.

Nitrate pollution of water sources: new impulses for EU Water Policy?

Global Goals top General Assembly President’s priority list

Does the West play the Syrian game in Egypt?

This fascinating map shows how food moves around the US

Report on EU trade defence – effective protection against unfair trade

Hundreds of thousands migrants ready to cross the Mediterranean. Only a local matter?

A chemistry professor explains: why soap is so good at killing COVID-19

Obama, Crimea and the TTIP pill

How to make primary healthcare a favourable career choice for medical students: Strategies and reflections

Hackers are causing blackouts. It’s time to boost our cyber resilience

Galileo and EGNOS programmes back in orbit powered with €70 billion

ECB reaches the boundaries of its mandate to revive the entirety of Eurozone

Why vaccines are not just for children

Solitary Britain sides with US aggressing Russia and chooses hard Brexit

The Commission tells Berlin it is legally obliged to help Eurozone out of stagnation

This New York store is selling Christmas presents for refugees

Corporate bond debt continues to pile up

ISIL continues to pose a ‘serious challenge’ worldwide – UN counter-terror chief

A woman would have to be born in the year 2255 to get equal pay at work

Portugal wants its emigrants back – so it’s paying them to return

EU: Divided they stand on immigration and Trump hurricanes

NHS: A great healthcare system but how accessible is it to migrants?

More Stings?

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s