Insights from the COVID-19 Global South Health and Livelihoods Challenge

With millions of people in the Global South at risk of sliding back into poverty amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the COVID-19 Global South Health and Livelihoods Challenge was launched to help low- and middle-income families stay healthy while maintaining a sustainable livelihood during this crisis. In just a few weeks, the Challenge saw hundreds of participants from around the world, each bringing unique lived experiences and creative ideas that spanned numerous industries.

Challenge Insights Report

This Insights Report shares back learnings from the Challenge, as well as those from our recent global event. Our hope is that through the examples found in this Report, you can gain a deeper understanding of the challenges facing those in the Global South and the opportunities that exist to address them. From shifting behavior at a large scale, to translating immediate responses to long-term sustainable changes, explore the six insights from around the world that have shifted our thinking around COVID-19 urgent response in the Global South.

Virtual Event: The Future of Urgent Response Innovation in the Global South

Alongside the Challenge, we recently hosted a virtual convening to dive deeper into learnings while bringing together a community of innovators from around the world working on COVID-19 response innovation. This three-part event—featuring a panel conversation, pitch event, and networking opportunity—was an honest reflection on the difficulty of this global pandemic and a moment to honor how different communities are adapting rapidly to meet their own needs.

Panel Conversation

A panel of leaders at the intersection of health policy, social entrepreneurship, and international funding joined us for a conversation focused on collaboration and co-design in moments of crisis, the role of government in innovation, opportunities for dramatic positive change amidst the pandemic, and much more.

Here are some highlights from the discussion (more in this Twitter thread):

  • "So much of the economy is based upon people who don’t have health insurance, don’t have work protections, can't work from home, and if they want to feed themselves and their families they need to go out and work.” — Will Durbin, Innovation Team Lead, USAID
  • “We’re facing one of the biggest challenges of our generation, so the response needs to meet that challenge, and the mobilization needs to be as big as the challenge.” — Juliana Uribe Villegas, CEO, Movilizatorio
  • "Working as a social entrepreneur requires bravery. When you cross innovation with digital transformation, you have to find partners in government that are brave too, and willing to direct you towards the right actors involved in getting solutions off the ground" — Delfina Irazusta, Executive Director, Innovación Local
  • "I think we must use this crisis. It takes a pandemic to change structures, processes, and the relationship between different actors. We should move faster, changing things that we wouldn’t be able to in a ‘normal’ world." — Juliano Seabra, Chief of the Innovation & Creativity Division, Inter-American Development Bank
  • There’s a lot of idle capital in Africa—people with resources who don’t invest in Africa—so entrepreneurs are always looking outside the Continent for help. If we had contextualized support from people who lived here and understood the problems, then we could work together to support change." — Bright Shitemi, Executive Director, Mental 360
  • "Entrepreneurs can generate ideas but can never take the role of government. We have the scope and power to accelerate and demonstrate solutions, and even show new ways or new procedures. But we need rules to play." — Luis Delgado, Founder, Lapus School

Team Pitches

More than 600 ideas from 71 countries were submitted to the COVID-19 Global South Health and Livelihoods Challenge by people striving to help communities that have been most impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Ten submissions—selected by a team of expert judges from around the world—were invited to pitch their solutions as part of the virtual convening. View the innovator teams' presentations below and explore their submissions.