Street Business School’s Response to Coronavirus: Now is the Time to Be Bold
I recently read this UN Paper and NYT article that predict as many as half a billion people may fall back into poverty as a result of coronavirus. 500,000,000 people – That is 8% of the global population or one out of every 12 people on the planet. People who in the past 20 years have tenaciously crawled their way into brighter lives, only to see it all taken away.
My first response is overwhelming sadness: all the lives this will destroy, the children who will not have food or healthcare or education.
My second response is that this is totally unacceptable. We cannot, MUST NOT, allow this to happen.
Street Business School has already been on the front lines of response to the impacts of COVID-19, and we will continue to be exasperatingly persistent in our response and CONSTITUTIONALLY INCAPABLE OF CAPITUALATION.
We recognize that we are running both a sprint and a marathon, and have launched our Standing Strong Together campaign to raise funds to support our response today and in the year to come.
THE SPRINT started in mid-March, when we created a COVID-19 response taskforce that met weekly to monitor how our 97 NGO partners and thousands of SBS alumni in Uganda were coping with a rapidly changing situation. We called alumni, hosted conference calls, and responded to key needs outlined by our partners, including training on fundraising and scenario planning during coronavirus.
In April, we got data showing that, although SBS alumni in Uganda were still better off than many others, 83% of them were still missing an average of three days of meals each week. At that point, we stepped in, providing small cash grants directly to families who were prohibited from running their businesses because of the government lockdown. We decided this was a necessary departure from our long-standing “no-handout” philosophy due to an unprecedented situation that required a nimble and practical response.
THE MARATHON STARTS NOW, and will last… we don’t really know how long. While we have stepped in to help as many people as possible survive in the short term, it is equally important to help a far greater number of people rebuild their lives and livelihoods in a post-COVID-19 world.
We feel uniquely qualified to meet this moment in time. For the past sixteen years, we have been creating and honing a program that is built specifically to help people experiencing deep poverty create small businesses to lift their families up. Unfortunately, due to this pandemic, the need for Street Business School will be greater than ever. We will be there to meet the demand.
We have already created a Get Back on Your Feet module. This will be offered to our alumni and NGO partners to help people who have already gone through SBS rebuild their businesses once they can safely do so. We will experiment with sending small snippets via text message while people are still in lockdown.
In addition, we are exploring opportunities to create a virtual curriculum so that it can be delivered more efficiently to more people in the hopes that this year we can train hundreds of new coaches who are looking for a proven solution to address the economic collapse in their region.
This year we will also partner with large NGOs, embedding Global SBS Trainers into their teams such that they can rapidly train their field staff in multiple countries to add SBS to their programs, knowing that a key challenge their constituents will face is direct survival.
We have an audacious goal: To scale our work in the year ahead as we never have before. This is bold, but if ever there was a time for audacity, the day has arrived. And we need your partnership to do it. Please join our Standing Strong Together campaign by making a gift today, to help fund both the sprint and the marathon.
The road ahead is not easy, but more than ever before, SBS has something to offer the world and it is our responsibility to step forward at this moment in time. The world feels uncertain. Fear is rampant. It would be easy for us to pull back, go slow, be cautious. But this moment requires the opposite. Today we must be our boldest selves to ensure people have the tools they need to create lives of dignity and prosperity.
Just as we are pushing forward, I challenge each of you to think about how this pandemic gives us all the opportunity and responsibility to do more.
The world needs us now more than ever. What will you do with your one precious life?