COVID-19 Business Pivot Challenge

How might businesses of all kinds rapidly adapt to support the immediate needs of the COVID-19 response, and enable a more just and resilient future?

In Partnership With
Who participated

COVID-19 has surfaced a spectrum of new needs for communities, patients and health workers around the world. At the same time, many sectors are struggling to stay afloat in an unprecedented time of economic uncertainty due to COVID-19 related restrictions. In this Challenge, we invited participation from anyone to share Inspirations and Ideas, from business owners and leaders to employees within companies of all types and sizes.

The Impact

700+ Ideas and Inspiration posts were submitted by participants from around the world. This Challenge offered an open and collaborative space to develop solutions, post inspiration, gather feedback, and find partners. While the Challenge was a 3-week sprint, we believe this will be just the start. Five selected submissions were eligible to receive $10,000 each in seed funding from the Vodafone Americas Foundation. Recipients of seed funding from Vodafone Americas Foundation were announced the week of May 25, 2020.

What's Happening Now
  • The Synthesis Report shares back highlights and insights from the Challenge, as well as guiding principles, opportunity areas, and tactical tools to help understand the business landscape and pivot amidst uncertainty.
  • Explore the Inspiration and/or Idea submissions.
  • On May 12, IDEO and the Social Innovation Summit hosted a webinar to discuss findings from the Challenge and explore how we might build a just and resilient business future. View the recording here.
  • Follow OpenIDEO on Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and/or Facebook to receive insights emerging from the Challenge.
Participants were welcome to submit solutions to the Beyond the Bag Challenge through one of three submission channels. Learn more about each channel.


In the span of several months, COVID-19 has irrevocably transformed economies around the world, ushering in an era of “business as unusual.” To meet the urgent needs of communities and health systems, organizations of all types have had to rapidly shift their focus, redirecting their assets and capabilities to support the global response to the pandemic and fill in gaps. Distilleries and breweries have leveraged their supply chains and equipment to produce hand sanitizer. Automakers are manufacturing ventilators and respirators. Hotels are providing rooms to those without homes. Members of the OpenIDEO community are shifting their operations to aid in this effort (Top Manta, a winner of the 2019 BridgeBuilder Challenge, is currently pivoting to produce protective face masks, for instance). It is nothing short of one of the fastest, most widespread displays of global innovation in history—and it must be just the start. During this time of unprecedented need, we will quickly rethink and redesign our ways of working—from business models, to supply chains, to safeguarding employment, to approval processes and product lines. Our collective ingenuity can get us there.

In addition to meeting the immediate needs related to COVID-19, businesses and employees in many sectors are merely struggling to survive and stay afloat in the face of debilitating losses. Many business owners are innovating to continue services, and the resulting models emerging from this time have the power to change communities and society for the better.

Through this Challenge, we aimed to uncover additional opportunities for this creativity to emerge from businesses of all sizes to meet today’s most pressing needs, while planning for a future that we know will look very different from our present.

Challenge Journey

Inspiration Phase

Apr 9, 2020

Apr 30, 2020

Ideation Phase

Apr 9, 2020

Apr 30, 2020

Current Phase
Inspiration Phase

The Inspiration Phase and the Ideation Phase are closed.

The Inspiration Phase: Use this Phase to post examples of COVID-19 business pivots that inspire you or resources that you feel will help those looking to pivot.


Help businesses of all sizes to meet today’s most pressing needs, while planning for a future that we know will look very different from the present. Jump into the Challenge and share.


This 3-week sprint launched on April 9, 2020 and was open until April 30, 2020.

VIEW Inspiration
Ideation Phase

The Inspiration Phase and the Ideation Phase are closed.

The Ideation Phase: Use this Phase to share ideas for how businesses might pivot to support the COVID-19 response and enable a more just and resilient future.


Help businesses of all sizes to meet today’s most pressing needs, while planning for a future that we know will look very different from the present. Jump into the Challenge and share.


This 3-week sprint launched on April 9, 2020 and was open until April 30, 2020.

View Ideas
The Challenge

How might businesses of all kinds rapidly adapt to support the immediate needs of the COVID-19 response, and enable a more just and resilient future?

Read The Full Brief

Opportunity Areas
Opportunity Area 1: Meeting Immediate Protective Demand 

How might businesses leverage their existing assets, resources, channels, and partners to creatively supply critical resources to our community during this pandemic?

  • With the rapid spread of COVID-19 and the need for immediate deployment of medical responses, governments, hospitals, and individuals are scrambling to source the protection they need. From medical first responders battling in warlike conditions everyday to workers in essential businesses keeping our basic services running, the supply of essential personal protective equipment (PPE) like respirators, gloves, and face shields is inadequate. For hospitals, preparing for the surge in need for specialized medical supplies like ventilators has been challenging globally. In addition, non-medical grade face masks and hand sanitizers are becoming staples for households and businesses alike. 
  • How can businesses across all industries help address the shortage in protective products? Are there other innovative ways to ensure the safety of our people in face of the pandemic? Knowing that countries and regions are seeing the outbreak peak along separate timelines, how might we build on our learnings and share across borders?

Opportunity Area 2: Meeting Immediate Needs for New Services  

How might businesses pivot to fill new demand for services that help to mitigate the challenges posed by social distancing?

  • People need more than protective products to cope with the drastic disruption to society. The list of necessary services is long and complex. Enabling “physical distancing” for the most at-risk populations requires delivery of food and other essential items. With schools closed, students, caregivers and teachers need immediate access to resources that will support continuing education. Healthcare workers depend on help with childcare and ways to ensure safety of their families. Social services to support emotional and mental health are seeing greater and greater demand. Prolonged social distancing is highlighting and exacerbating the exclusion and burden placed upon marginalized communities, including those without regular access to the internet, raising an opportunity for businesses to serve a wider swath of the population.
  • How can businesses address needs for new services to help people cope with COVID-19? How do we ensure adequate provision and protection of marginalized communities?  In many ways, this opportunity area is about rethinking the roles both existing and new businesses (and their associated resources, capabilities, and networks) can play to step in and help people with these new needs.
Opportunity Area 3: Adapting Today in Service of a New Future  

How might businesses adapt to play new roles and thrive in the post-COVID world?

  • The COVID-19 pandemic has created an unprecedented disruption to economic activity at all levels around the globe. It is also quickly creating new norms, constraints and opportunities. Businesses will need to navigate this new reality in order to thrive, and their success is needed to support the livelihoods and needs of all. How is COVID-19 transforming industries and changing expectations, risks and opportunities for businesses? What are ways businesses need to change to succeed in this new era? How might we learn from the COVID-19 pandemic to rebuild the economy so that it is more just, sustainable and resilient? 
  • This opportunity area invites reflection on the ways in which COVID-19 will change our assumptions about business-as-usual, the role of community, and the importance of the ability to innovate.
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IDEO thanks the listed organizations for their swift participation in the COVID-19 Business Pivot Challenge. While respondents listed may be unaffiliated with one another or with IDEO, all of us share the common goal of eradicating COVID-19.

Center for rural child development(CRCD), Lviv Technological Lyceum, 1X Vision Lab, 4Health Ltd, 4Health Ltd, 50 Million Female Entrepreneurs Limited , A Community Action for Social Change , A707, Abstract Academy , Action for Humanitraian Initiatives Uganda, Activism Articulated , ADAPTOVATE, ADd Art Design Dream - Turkey, Afroeed, Afzaa, Agrarian Trust, Agrifund International, (AFI), Uganda, Akcessjobs South Sudan, All Party System Co., AMAF-BENIN, AMURT Healthcare Centre, Anh-Dai Lu, Honorary lecturer at University of Liverpool, Antility, Baoma Youth Development Organization, Beautiful Normal, Beeck Center for Social Impact + Innovation, Georgetown University, Berkeley Haas Center for Equity, Gender and Leadership, Bespoke Group , BHITECHNOLOGY and Agribusiness Concept, Black Emergency Managers Association International , BOOMnBUZZ Technologies, Bountynut , Brands Like Bands, Bridge Workforce Development Consulting, Build Change, Bunker Creativo, Canwelo investments, CARD-SL, Caritas Lira Diocese, Caritas Nyeri, CCEYD, CDEPA, CDEPA, Center for Integrated Community Development, Ceserv Nigeria Limited , Change Initiatives, CHEER-LIBERIA, Cities Reimagined, COLOSSIANS MEDIC, Communication Service for the Deaf, Inc., Communities in Transition, Composite Ventures, Cope With Global Change, CrowdThink, Culture Amp , Dalix Integrated Farm , Danmayaki investment limited, Dawn Patrol Productions, Logistics & AutoCAD Specialist, Days for Girls International, Decathlon, Deep Tea, Design Spaceplan Solutions , Dhwani Rural Information Systems Pvt Ltd, Distinct Guides Institute of Professional Studies (DIGIPS), District Family Medicine Center, Diversely NYC, DONNYBROOK SECONDARY SCHOOL, KAKONKO, TANZANIA, DR BAHATI AMON FOUNDATION UGANDA, Duke-UNICEF Innovation Accelerator, EAGLEDOM SECURITY SOLUTIONS LIMITED, East Palo Alto Academy Dream Lab Makerspace, Education Across Borders - Sierra Leone (EAB-SL), Enabling Peace in Iraq Center (EPIC), Farrel Social Organization, Finding XY , Flam Arc Holdings, Forefront Transformations, FUEMA FOUNDATION-ECUADOR, Future City Innovation Lab, Galaxy Guest House and Restaurant, Genesis Arts Creations, GetSmart Solutions Ltd, Girls With Impact, Giselle Foundation, Global Policy Research Innovations Institute, Global Shapers Bristol Hub, Glorious Needy Care Foundation Int'l, God's Love Home and School, Gods Care Rice Processors, Goodwill Global Foundation , Goûter Exotique LTD, Greenglobe Ghana, Greenglobe Ghana, Greenlight Youth Soccer Academy(GYSA)Zimbabwe, GreyCells Montessori School, HACEP-Ghana, Havalah International, Liberia, Heyman Partners, Hope for Family Development Initiative (HFDI), HOPKINS INTEGRATED DEVELOPMENT INTIATIVES (HIDI) , HOUSSER RESIDENCIES , Humanitarian Organization For Peolpel's Empowerment (HOPE-South Sudan), HumanRights Solutions, Hybrid Media | Communications , Hydro Plant, IBM iX , Ibtikar for Empowerment and Social Entrepreneurship, IDEA - International Development Exchange Association, Idea connection , Ideal development agency , Impact Youth Organization, ImpactX, In Globo Services Limited, Indigreenz Innovations , INTERNATIONAL MEDICAL LINK (IML) (U) LTD, Internjobs, IPROSARUDE, IWCA Uganda Chapter, JACKTEMWA Commercials Limited, JnC Nova, Kabale University, Kabondo Persons with Disabilities Self Help Group, Kaengesa Environmental Conservation Society, Kaizenx, KANA HATCHERY, Kana Hatchery and General Business Enterprises, Kanon Ranch Nigeria Limited , Karonga Women Rice Cooperative, Katy Sparks Culinary Consulting, Kenya Markets Trust, Kiambu community empowerment network, Kingdom Konsulting Group, LLC, Kuhle Foundation, KYMBA Branding & Strategies, Leru General Dealers, Light of the World Business Center, LightBlue Consulting, LightBlue Environmental Consulting, lola, LOPCAR UNIDOS POR TU BIENESTAR AC , Loshema Group, Love Botswana Outreach Mission, LOVE to NATION ASOSSIATION,TIG Electromechanical works, Malindi Children's Embassy, Mandra Lions Club, Matrix Integrated, Mikflo , Minnd Innnovations, MTSSDS , Mukusu Motors and Properties Ltd, Mulelewaka Foundation, Mundri Relief and Development Association MDA, Mwamfumba multi purpose co-operative society limited, Naibunga Conservancy, Nenis Auto Care, NETI (No está todo inventado), Nishith Desai Associates, Nivi Inc., NLPBOTS Inc., Nyangorora Banana processors, One humanity application , ONG FITILLA, ONG JAPSSO, Orel Group, Parmeeda, Participatory Development Action Program, Pears Program for Global Innovation, Perceptiveye, PERU PHARMACEUTICAL COMPANY, PEWNAP,,, Plexis consultancy, PopPack LLC, Postbank uganda, Potentiate, Presidency College of Management Sciences, PublishOwl, Queens Sports Academy, Rays of Care Kenya, Readerscafe , Rebel Rose Consulting, Resource Connects for Education Initiative , Ritz Cruz Safaris, ROCCAD Ghana, Rology - We save lives. , RPN, Rural Empowerment on Health Management , Rural social welfare edutional and employement development trut, Rural Women Rights Structure, RWRS--Liberia, Ruta N, SafeBangle Technologies Limited, SANAKLP JYOTI,, SAVE VISIONS AFRICA (SVA), emerging more connected than ever before, Silicon Valley Social Venture Fund, Fast Forward, Kamath Family Foundation, Sirena Technologies, Sisonke, Society for Union of Muslims and Empowerment, Sree Lakshmi Jabbi Reddy Charitable Trust, SSSF, Success Capital Organisation, Success Educational Institute and Welfare Society, Sunfern Investments ,, Support Community in Democracy Alliance (SCODA KENYA), TalentLab, Tanzania Enlightenment Development Innovation (TEDI) , Tap Elderly Women's Wisdom for Youth, Tapping Agriculture Now Ltd, TATA TRUSTS, Tele-Solutions Partners Ltd, The Future Community Foundation , The Missing Piece Company BC Ltd, The name of our company like to appear when listed as a supporting partner is Daraja project group bukokwa, The VUANI Foundation, This Present Day Africa Youth Initiative, Timaachab Ghana, Trailside Creative , Treasurefilled Model Schools, Ibafo Ogun State, UKAged Home, Union Bank of Nigeria, V.SINKALA GENERAL DEALERS, Venture Leadership Consulting , Victory Social Welfare Association, Vijay Computer Academy , Vision for Change Organization, Vision Radio, 92.5FM Kano., Volunteers Welfare for Community Based Care of Zambia (VOWAZA), WAKATI Foundation, Woman Of Purpose - Pallisa, Uganda, World University of Design , Agama Center Peace and Development, Yourvoice, Youth Empowerment for Sustainability (YES), YPay , YTÜ Teknopark, ZAMANi creates, Zambia Association for Children and Adults with Learning Disabilities, Zaria Construction Company Nigeria Limited, ZAUQ GROUP, ZYVDA

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Evaluation Criteria for Vodafone Americas Foundation Funding

Submissions were invited from registered nonprofit, civil society, community-based, and for-profit organizations working anywhere in the world. 

Anyone was welcome to submit to the Challenge and benefit from community management and resources. To be eligible for Vodafone Americas Foundation funding, submissions must focus on one of the following tech areas, describing how tech will enable business to pivot, adapt and thrive:

  • Internet of Things (IoT): Smart devices allow us to connect, share and analyze data remotely. IoT can be used in hospitals and health systems for monitoring, as well as in other essential sectors like agriculture. At this time, we’re curious how we might find new uses for sensor technology to help combat COVID-19. 
  • Artificial intelligence (AI): AI-based solutions and tools are being used for a wide variety of needs right now - providing medical screenings, assisting with information dissemination, and monitoring the spread of the outbreak. 
  • Mobile Data & Technology: Mobile technology and data can be leveraged to develop apps that help trace the spread of the disease, to communicate with vulnerable populations, or to provide access to crucial services (health-related and beyond). 
  • Although not required to receive funding, in addition to addressing one of the tech areas above, submissions that include a focus on supporting women and girls will receive special consideration. 

Eligible submissions will be: 

  • Actionable and tangible: Teams should showcase a plan and ability to quickly launch the submitted pivot within a 1-month timeframe. Submissions should describe any prototypes or initial tests performed so far.
  • Impact-oriented: Teams should demonstrate how they plan to meet a real need. This includes thoughtfulness around impact measurement: how will this pivot create value for communities and the world?
  • Complete: To help us move quickly during the evaluation process, we request that all teams interested in consideration for funding respond to all questions in the submission form by April 30.

How to indicate interest in funding:

All submissions to the Ideation section of the Challenge will be considered for this funding opportunity. No additional materials are required. However, it is recommended that participants ensure that the eligibility criteria listed above is demonstrated in the answers to submission questions.

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