With every upheaval in human history, when the old world forces have been broken from their very foundations, a time of reconstruction followed. Great crises can portend great good.
Crises are also a prologue that offer an opportunity to address deep-rooted systemic problems of inequity, corruption, and profiteering.
As economies across the world navigate through the COVID-19 pandemic, its increasing and uncertain ferocity continues to eviscerate the festering social, political, and economic equilibriums, especially across the Global South. Beyond the staggering economic impact, the pandemic is set to have a severe socio-economic impacts on unemployment, plunging investments, and fissures in trade and supply linkages. According to the World Bank’s newly released South Asia Economic Focus report, COVID-19 will shatter South Asia’s booming economies to the lowest levels witnessed in decades. As the epicentre of the pandemic shifts from the West to the Global South and this downward spiral continues, at least a 100 million will be pushed into extreme poverty, living on less than two US dollars per day. A single virus has belittled our technological advancements, biotechnology feats, artificial intelligence, and other seemingly infallible forces of our global economies.
Over the past 100 days, perhaps the most googled phrase, “social distancing,” has become the new story of our survival as a species. It has forced us to find different ways to adapt, to create, to build, to thrive. While the pandemic brought the perfect storm of economic upheaval, the rate and the nature of change in every sector had been accelerating exponentially; the linear business models of change were constantly being redefined; old norms such as assembly line and a specific skilled-workforce were disappearing.
For too long, reforms have been in silos. Custodians of capital markets have been oblivious to the collateral damage of social inequities. Profits have been the priority at great societal cost.
In the last decade, the world collectively came up with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The SDGs are at once universal and local. They equip us with a global grammar to talk to one another, irrespective of the difference or the distance. What we need in this decade is a new economic paradigm – the Impact Economy – an economy which thrives on creating meaningful impact in lives of individuals, societies and nations and we need three things for that: shared goals, resources and change designers.
While the SDGs provide shared goals, entrepreneurs are stepping in with their sustainable interventions, where markets and governments are have fallen short, particularly in supporting vulnerable communities. They are the driving force that can transform the unprecedented challenges into a new playing field; to turn the civilisation towards a paradigm that balances profits with collective societal good.
However for that to happen, we need a new system, an enabling ecosystem, which provides the right resources and environment for entrepreneurs to thrive and design the new world, a new movement to propel massive collective change, shared and valued by all.
At this civilizational implosion, the entrepreneurs can spark the economic re-birth of the world. It is time to reconstruct a new world order: Entreprenaissance, the first renaissance of the urban environment of the 21st century.
At this historic crossroads, the Sankalp community across the globe, shall once again convene in November 2020, virtually, to steer and leverage the vast expertise of all the global stakeholders to use this window of opportunity to shape the recovery of our civilisation.