The COVID-19 pandemic has bared the inequalities of our economic system which were lying under wraps for so long. Our progress towards equality and the deliverance of human rights, in totality, as a nation, has to be looked into immediately. According to the International Labour Organization (ILO) the sharp decline in the ability to work due to the pandemic has usurped the livelihoods of around 1.6 billion workers, which equals to, almost half of the global workforce. Under such circumstances, being humane and extending support for the upliftment of those comprising our ‘informal economy’ becomes a sacred duty for all; and social entrepreneurs are leaders of this movement.
Guardians of people and the planet
Social entrepreneurs play a crucial role in serving the most marginalized members of the society and their work is more important, now, than ever, as we respond to the crisis created by COVID19. The extreme impacts of COVID-19 on low-income populations are significant; daily-wage labourers and migrant workers lack access to even the most basic necessities like food and water. Due to a weak financial state, these underprivileged people are forced to choose between their health and their livelihoods. In such situations, social entrepreneurs step in like saviours! They not only help in providing support to those who need it, but also aid in achieving the SDGs by creating self-sustainable business models. They contribute to positive social and environmental change. In aiming to check the flaws of our economic system, the experience, principles and mindset of social entrepreneurs will re-shape the economy, leading it towards progress.
In helping the vulnerable populations, social entrepreneurs have time and again proved their worth. Under the present circumstances, they are continuing to strive for the benefit of society in the following ways:-
1. Bringing vital products and services like healthcare and basic food items to those on the fringes of society. Providing mental health support to one and all who need it.
2. Aiding people to sustain jobs, at a time when the loss of income can be particularly devastating.
3. Innovating to address the social and environmental challenges our society is facing.
4. Championing the sustainable development goals, while calling for an inclusive and green economy when markets are re-setting.
Supporting our ‘guardians’
All said, for social entrepreneurs to lead, they need each of us – funders, investors, corporations, and governments alike. Their access to capital and expansion of work depends on the support which we should readily provide. We should take cue from alliances such as ‘The COVID Response Alliance for Social Entrepreneurs’, which is collaborating with 60 leading social-change organizations towards a common goal. Their aim is to support social entrepreneurs, while they work to help the most vulnerable people and thus shape the transition to a new normal. Many more such collaborations which can support social entrepreneurs to perform their duties, in responding to the crisis, recovering and rebuilding, is the need of the hour. Social entrepreneurs are the new yardstick for leaders in the 21st century as they keep inspiring us to lead with humanity, dignity and meaningful goals at hand.