COVID-19 Global South Health and Livelihoods Challenge

How might we support low- and middle-income families in the Global South to stay healthy while maintaining a sustainable livelihood during the COVID-19 pandemic?

Challenge Partners
Encuentra acá la version en Español.
Encuentra acá la version en Español.
Who Participated

We sought innovative ideas that demonstrate a deep understanding of low- and middle-income families in urban areas in the Global South and of those who have been most impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. We accepted all stages of innovations, from initial design stage to full scale rollout. Anyone was able to submit to the Challenge, whether an individual, a team, or a registered organization.

We're Offered

Up to 10 selected Top Ideas were eligible to receive a combination of the following: 

  • A share of 55K USD in funding, distributed to up to five of the selected Top Ideas. This funding is provided by La Victoria Lab, Intercorp’s Innovation Lab. 
  • An invitation to pitch and present their concepts to leadership from Intercorp, and the Challenge Advisory Team (which includes many of the partners listed above). This event will be an opportunity for visibility and relationship building, to support with additional investment and implementation. Additional details will be announced soon. 
  • One complimentary seat in an upcoming IDEO U course per team
  • Entry into La Victoria Lab’s three-week Accelerator Program.
What's Happening Now?
Participants were welcome to submit solutions to the Beyond the Bag Challenge through one of three submission channels. Learn more about each channel.

Introduction to the Challenge

As COVID-19 began to spread at the beginning of 2020, some of the earliest and strictest lockdown policies were imposed by governments in the Global South, a term that refers broadly to the regions of Latin America, Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and Oceania. Despite this, statistics show that as of August 12, 2020, many of the countries experiencing the highest COVID-related death rates are in the Global South, among them: Brazil, Mexico, India, Peru, Iran, Colombia, South Africa, and Chile.

With the epicenter of the pandemic now in the Global South, and specifically Latin America, millions of people who cannot afford to isolate at home face an impossible choice: either go to work and risk contracting the virus, or stay at home and risk job and income loss.

Unfortunately, if drastic measures aren’t taken to shift the tides, millions of families are at risk of sliding back into poverty. Researchers at the World Economic Forum explain that low and middle-income urban areas are susceptible to  incubate disease transmission due to a series of factors, including: proximity due to urban density, overcrowding, and uneven access to basic services. 

To date, most governments in the Global South have focused on injecting capital back into their economies in an attempt to strengthen their fractured infrastructure. Unfortunately, all too often there is no robust plan in place to adequately support low- and middle-income families to return to work while staying protected from the virus. Even though many communities have taken preventative measures, it is challenging for many to avoid engaging in the activities that further spread the disease like going to work or shop for food. This is why it is key to find avenues for this portion of the population to safely continue to work, while still protecting their families, prioritizing their wellbeing and that of their local communities. 

This is why we’re launching a Challenge using the OpenIDEO platform to empower the social impact ecosystem towards action.

Our goal: to help ideas rapidly reach those who need them most.

Challenge Journey


Aug 19, 2020

Sep 10, 2020


Sep 11, 2020

Sep 23, 2020

Top Ideas

Sep 24, 2020

Current Phase

During the Ideas Phase, we invite you to submit your idea, concept, startup or organization at any stage of development. Make sure to click “Publish” on your idea so it will be live and able to move into Evaluation Phase.

We welcome you to submit your idea and use the platform to connect and find partners as well as share inspiration and feedback with others.


Teams from around the world are developing their ideas and sharing them in the Challenge. Teams are also connecting and sharing inspiration, feedback and building partnerships.


The Ideas Phase will move into Evaluation Phase on 10 September, 2020 at 5:00pm ET.


During the Evaluation Phase, ideas submitted by the deadline will be considered by a panel of Judges, with representatives from Intercorp, La Victoria Labs, and OpenIDEO.


Submitted Ideas are being evaluated for consideration as Top Ideas.


The Evaluation Phase will close on 23 September, 2020. Top Ideas will be announced by 24 September, 2020.

Top Ideas

During this Phase, stay tuned for an announcement of Top Ideas and opportunities offered to support those teams.


Top Ideas will be announced, supported and celebrated.


Stay tuned for dates and more information.

The Challenge

How might we support low- and middle-income families in the Global South to stay healthy while maintaining a sustainable livelihood during the COVID-19 pandemic?

Read The Full Brief

The Problem: Additional Context

The challenge of COVID-19 for low- and middle-income families in the urban Global South represents a confluence of many challenges in one. According to the IPI Global Observatory, the Global South has "the highest rates of COVID-19 in the world, a lack of adequate access to healthcare, and a large emerging middle class that is at risk of sliding back into poverty." Statistics from the region only compound the gravity of this reality. For example: 

  • According to a report recently published by ECLAC United Nations, the poverty rate in Latin America and the Caribbean is expected to jump by 4.4% in 2020, translating into about 30 million of people who had entered the middle class, moving backwards into poverty. 
  • A majority of the population in countries like Peru (76%), Colombia (74%), Brasil (80%), South Africa (64.3%) live in urban areas, and many of them live in multi-generational households. People living in close quarters and the urban density puts older adults and those with underlying medical conditions at even higher risk.
  • Many lower- and middle-income cities and communities are living in substandard and poorly ventilated buildings, making diseases easier to spread. Many lack access to clean water, basic sanitation, and regular electricity. Often, those who commute for work rely on crowded public transportation, where there is high risk of disease transfer. 

The nexus of these urgent realities has led us to ask: How might we support low- and middle-income families in the Global South to stay healthy while maintaining a sustainable livelihood during the COVID-19 pandemic?

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Evaluation Criteria

Submissions are welcome from entrepreneurs, researchers, scientists, students, private and public sector organizations, nonprofits, and others working anywhere in the Global South or with a deep understanding of the context in which communities in the region are operating. Submissions will have two tiers: 

  • Global South Open Prize Tier: Open to submissions focused on any country in the Global South, at any stage of development. 
  • LatAm Mid- to Advanced-Stage Prize Tier: Open to submissions focused on the LatAm region, and particularly in Peru, that are prototyping, piloting, or scaling their idea. If not based in Peru, must be willing to partner with a local player in Peru to implement their project.

Please identify in your submission form, when directed, which Tier you are applying for. 

Global South Open Prize Tier: General Submission Guidelines

All submitted concepts should have a clear hypothesis underlying the proposed approach to improve the lives of emerging low- and middle-income urban communities in the Global South during the COVID-19 pandemic.

A Top Idea must be:

  • Scalable: Outlines how their approach would work within existing systems or what change would need to occur within these for their approach to be effective.
  • Innovative: Takes a new approach to the problem, or uses an existing approach in a new way.
  • Adaptable: Can flexibly respond to the frequent changes made to the healthcare restrictions established by governments due to COVID-19. The idea considers the rapidly shifting government policies and economic realities that might influence end users within the context they are being implemented.
  • Desirable: Answers a specific need and demonstrates a deep understanding of the context of the proposed solution and the needs of low- and middle-income urban communities in the Global South.
  • Viable: Clearly describes how the solution will be implemented, outlining the needs for piloting to happen. 
  • Feasible: Articulates how the proposed solution will overcome potential barriers to implementation.

LatAm Mid- to Advanced-Stage Prize Tier Specific Guidelines

Mid- to advanced-stage innovations meant to be implemented in or translated to the Latin American context—and especially Peru—will be particularly considered for implementation by La Victoria Lab.

In addition to all guidelines in the Global South Open Prize Tier, submissions for this Tier must also consider:

Geographic Relevance: all concepts considered for the LatAm Tier must be implementable in Latin America, and will receive special consideration for implementation support by La Victoria Lab if meant to be implemented in Peru.

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Opportunity Areas

Opportunity Areas are specific calls to action to guide our community of innovators during the open submission phase of the Challenge. They serve as provocations that are intentionally aligned with our Challenge topic and partner priorities, while ripe for innovation. This will encourage us to learn from edge-pushing ideas, and be critical about how solutions can be applied to various populations and specific communities.

  1. Informal and semi-formal economy
    According to the International Labour Organization (ILO), more than 60% of the world’s employed population is in the informal economy. These jobs are, by their nature, unpredictable, often occurring in environments where social distancing is difficult and don’t provide access to social protection measures such as healthcare and unemployment benefits. Major occupations in the informal sector include home-based workers (such as dependent subcontract workers, independent own account producers, and unpaid workers in family businesses) and street vendors, which both are classified in the informal sector. Many don’t have the luxury to isolate while keeping their livelihoods.  How might we create the conditions for informal workers to stay safe and still access income during COVID-19?
  1. Access to basic necessities (shops, markets, affordable WASH programs)
    Basic needs have become inaccessible, or dangerous to access, for many low- and middle-income households in the Global South during COVID-19. The provisions of safe water, sanitation, waste management, and overall hygienic conditions are essential for preventing and protecting human health during all infectious disease outbreaks, including COVID-19. Moreover, a high percentage of households in the Global South don’t have a refrigerator and culturally are used to buying fresh food on a daily basis. Many lack the equipment, resources and habits to stock up with food that could last for many days, forcing people to go out daily, sometimes twice on the same day, to buy from the local markets and cover fundamental needs. How might low- and middle-income families access food, affordable water, sanitation, and hygiene services outside their homes without risking their health or livelihoods during the  pandemic? 
  1. Mobility and public transportation
    Public transportation, often the only mobility alternative for low- and middle-income families is constantly overcrowded, especially during rush hour, making COVID-19 ever harder to control. Even if local governments have established curfew restrictions, an increased amount of passengers transporting in shorter periods of time creates massive peaks of exposure to the virus. How might we create the conditions for those who have to go out in the middle of the pandemic to stay healthy while commuting? 
  1. Tracking, tracing, and the visibility of contagion
    Since the beginning of the pandemic the World Health Organization has emphasized the importance of testing. Speed is of the essence, and three things are crucial: tracking down cases with symptoms, identifying their household cluster, and tracing people they’ve contacted. Especially if physical distancing is not an option, timely testing becomes more and more crucial. Countries across the Global South vary in capacity to test. For example, Brazil has dramatically increased their ability to test, while Mexico is still one of the countries in Latam with the lowest testing capability. For those in these countries who cannot self-isolate, accessing information about their status could be crucial not only for them and their families, but also to control the pandemic worldwide. Governments have not yet designed accessible systems to support middle-class families and informal workers in consistently understanding the threat of the virus, and how it is shifting. How might we support low- and middle-income families in urban areas to access information about their health and consistently measure their risk and exposure to COVID-19?
  2. What are we missing?
    COVID-19 has uncovered a wide range of gaps across social, health-care and economic systems. Help us guard against blindspots, and bring visibility to issues not captured in the opportunity areas above. Share your idea and tell us how it might achieve the impact we’re discussing, and how your proposed solution would work.
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Glossary of Terms

Global South
“The Global South is an emerging term, used by the World Bank and other organizations, identifying countries with one side of the underlying global North-South divide, the other side being the countries of the Global North.[2] As such the term does not inherently refer to a geographical south, for example, most of the Global South is within the Northern Hemisphere. The term was first introduced as a more open and value-free alternative to "third world" and similar valuing terms. Countries of the Global South have been described as newly industrialized or in the process of industrializing, are largely considered by freedom indices to have lower-quality democracies, and frequently have a history of colonialism by Northern, often European states. The countries Brazil, India, Mexico, and Indonesia have the largest populations and economies among Southern states.[4] The overwhelming majority of these countries are located in or near the tropics.” Read more.

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Stages of Ideas (Our Definition)

For the purposes of this Challenge, we are defining Ideas in these 4 successive stages:

1) Initial Design stage: I am exploring the idea, gathering the inspiration and information I need to test it with real users.

2) Prototype stage: I have done some small tests or experiments with prospective users to continue developing the idea. 

3) Pilot stage: I have started to implement the solution as a whole with a first set of real users. 

4) Full-Scale Rollout stage: I have already tested and scaled this idea significantly with the intended user base.

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In Partnership With

Global Philanthropy Forum

The Global Philanthropy Forum connects philanthropists and social investors to issues, strategies, potential co-funding partners and to emblematic agents of change around the world. The Global South Health and Livelihoods Challenge represents those change-makers who are actively working on groundbreaking ideas and solutions to the pressing challenges of this unprecedented moment. We welcome the opportunity to partner with IDEO to steward, support, and connect these innovators with the community and resources they need to be successful. is a nonprofit design studio. We design products and services alongside organizations that are committed to creating a more just and inclusive world.


IDEO U is an online school that equips individuals and teams with skills, mindsets, and tools to help them stay relevant and adaptive in our modern world.

Inter-American Development Bank

The Inter-American Development Bank's mission is to improve lives. Founded in 1959, the IDB is one of the main sources of long-term financing for economic, social, and institutional development in Latin America and the Caribbean. The IDB also conducts cutting-edge research projects and offers policy advice, technical assistance, and training to public and private clients throughout the region.


Founded in 1991, Intercorp is the fastest growing economic group in Peru and one of the largest in Latin America, spanning a portfolio of more than 35 companies across four main industries: Financial Services, Education, Healthcare, and Retail.

The Group employs over 80,000 Peruvians and accounts for over 3.5% of the country’s GDP. It has managed to achieve all of this in little over twenty years.

La Victoria Lab

Launched in 2014, with the purpose of improving the lives of Peruvian middle-class families through human-centered design, La Victoria Lab, Intercorp’s innovation hub, is focused on creating new ventures from scratch, transforming the ecosystem of Intercorp companies, inspiring their business leaders, and exploring that which is only recently possible. ‍

The Lab's ventures range from mindset-changing initiatives, such as curating Peru's largest innovation festival, to deeply transformative endeavors targeted at reinventing the core value propositions of Intercorp's businesses.


Movilizatorio is a citizen engagement and social innovation lab for Latin America. Movilizatorio’s mission is transforming  societies towards an equitable, peaceful and inclusive world by empowering citizens to become agents of change, through enhancing their leadership, mobilization and advocacy skills and combining strategy, communications and technology. We work in identifying, strengthening and implementing the best practices in civic mobilization, empowerment and innovation and in creating knowledge around them.

Pacífico Business School

Pacífico Business School, has a high academic calibre, supported by international quality standards and academic demands, fully focused on the comprehensive training of its students.  

Pacífico Business School focuses on transforming the leadership of today's executives, through a challenging and innovative customized learning experience, which will allow them to boost their personal and professional growth to generate value in their organization and positively impact their society.


SHOFCO is a Kenyan, grassroots organization that unlocks the potential of urban slum dwellers to lead hopeful and fulfilling lives, by establishing strong community-led relationships, and then layer on the delivery of critical services including health care, clean water and sanitation, girls’ education, and job readiness.

USAID's Center for Innovation and Impact (CII)

USAID's Center for Innovation and Impact (CII) applies business-minded approaches to the development, introduction, and scale-up of health interventions to accelerate impact against the world's most important health challenges.

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Special Thanks

Gratitude to the following organizations:

Agromanna Consultants, Association of Grassroots Counselors on Health and Development( AGCOD), Centre of Child Study and Protection, CERTUS, Community Support Initiative, Developed Information System for Community Communication, Development & Integrity Intervention Goal Foundation, Do It With Boldness Foundation, Dovetales General Enterprises Limited, GIGM, Give Her A Chance Africa Foundation, Global Innovation Exchange, Hospital Management Board, Kano State , Hydroponic Farms Uganda, ICT, MC JAMES Agro, Neumann Business School, NEXUS, Nnamdi Azikiwe University, OnFire - Disruptive Agency, Open Ink LTD, Solidarités ASBL, Solidarity of Refugee, Women for the Social Welfare (SOFERES) , Somik Visions Resources, VIQUA Water Care Solutions

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View Selected Ideas
View Selected Ideas
Challenge Team:

Daniela Restrepo Ortiz

Community Specialist

Alex Nana-Sinkam

Global Equity Portfolio Lead

Hannah Lennett

Marketing Lead

Luisa Covaria

Senior Director

Matthew Ridenour

Business Strategy & Partnerships

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