Analysis: The COVID-19 Response Has Shown What We Are Capable Of When We Work Together
When India entered into lockdown early in 2020, lives and livelihoods were thrown into disarray. Among those hardest hit were informal waste pickers. Unable to continue working, most lost their income overnight.
But not all were left unprovided for. Thanks to the swift action of Indian social enterprise Waste Ventures – an organization that in normal times offers professional recycling services while supporting waste pickers with higher incomes – and an emergency grant from Yunus Social Business, incomes continued to be paid to 1,200 waste pickers and 1,600 food kits were provided to their families at the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic.
It is a pattern that we, as funders, have observed over and over again during the past 18 months. At a time when governments across the globe have been overwhelmed and, in many cases, unable to support their most vulnerable populations, social entrepreneurs like Waste Ventures have shown up early and acted fast to support communities.
No choice but to rethink existing approaches
At Yunus Social Business, Root Capital and Acumen, we work with social entrepreneurs that are catalysts for social impact and poverty reduction, providing investment capital and non-financial support to help them to scale. In the face of the crisis, we were all grappling with uncertainty about how best to respond and knew that we had to rethink our existing approaches. We quickly realized that through the social businesses we work with we had an opportunity to get help to those who were being worst impacted by the pandemic, including informal workers like the waste pickers in India, but also smallholder farmers in Africa, artisans, collectives and others.
Photo courtesy of congerdesign.