The Success of the Great Reset Depends on Social Enterprises

September 23, 2020


Dimagi CEO Jonathan Jackson joined other members of the COVID Response Alliance in outlining the important role of social entrepreneurs in the recovery from COVID-19 and the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals. See the original post in the World Economic Forum blog, here.


Even before the pandemic, few countries were even close to achieving the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by the target date of 2030. 

Only a handful, such as Denmark, Germany, and Japan, are within reach of that target. In fact, a recent report outlined how, at our current pace, the world would not achieve the SDGs until 2073.

In light of the political, economic, and social disruptions we now face, the World Economic Forum has introduced the Great Reset – “a commitment to jointly and urgently build the foundations of our economic and social system for a more fair, sustainable, and resilient future.”

Not only have governments needed to invest in mitigating short-term losses of life and livelihoods, but their response has also seen medium-to-long-term regressions creep into the projections. In order to turn these projected regressions around, international organizations as well as private institutions have joined the World Economic Forum’s call to reevaluate the global economic and social system:

“The Great Reset is a welcome recognition that this human tragedy must be a wake-up call. We must build more equal, inclusive, and sustainable economies and societies that are more resilient in the face of pandemics, climate change, and the many other global changes we face,” said António Guterres, Secretary-General, United Nations.

Organizations that link public and private efforts will serve a vital role in this initiative. The work of social entrepreneurs serves on the front line against the systemic failures and inequalities that have gotten us to this point. The expertise of these actors and their infrastructure around the world can play a vital role in revitalizing the sustainable development agenda and in building more resilient and sustainable markets and societies.

The Schwab Foundation’s 2020 Impact Report demonstrated how their network of 400 social innovators and entrepreneurs alone has improved the lives of more than 622 million people by “protecting livelihoods, driving movements for social inclusion and environmental sustainability, and providing improved access to health, sanitation, education, and energy.”

As we look to the Great Reset, we need a systems change approach to transformation collaboration to generate impact. Organizations such as Catalyst 2030, an international consortium of more than 200 members collaborating to achieve the SDGs, and the COVID-19 Response Alliance, a compilation of more than 60 global members and 50,000 social entrepreneurs, are leading efforts to foster collaboration across impact-focused companies and global leaders.

The Alliance’s recent “Action Agenda” for the key partners of social enterprises offer support in the mission to “protect the most vulnerable in the crisis and shape the transition to a new normal in its aftermath”:

  • (Impact) Investors: “Adapt their investment priorities & provide flexible capital and must-have technical assistance”
  • Supporting Intermediaries: “Surface the needs of social entrepreneurs they serve on the ground & provide them with fitting support”
  • Funders: “Expand and expedite their financial support to social entrepreneurs and intermediaries.”
  • Corporations: “Stand with social entrepreneurs within their supply chains and ecosystems & join forces with them to build back better.”
  • Governments/DFIs: “Recognize social entrepreneurs as vital leaders and first-line responders in the crisis and its aftermath & treat the sector as such.”

The public-private partnership that social enterprises help to facilitate is vital. While governments have the authority to enact policy and national-scale initiatives that have already helped move the needle in many countries, the same entities are often restricted in their ability to mobilize resources and efforts at the last mile. Instead, governments can use the resources they do have to effectively power systems change within their countries, capitalizing on the collaborative and co-creative abilities of private organizations to help tackle the issues outlined in the SDGs.

We haven’t had time to begin fully measuring the effects of the pandemic on the progress toward the SDGs. However, it has become clear that without an unprecedented mobilization of social entrepreneurs, resources, and new partnerships, we don’t have a chance of achieving them by 2073 – let alone 2030.


Further information on the important role of social entrepreneurship in the recovery from COVID-19 and achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals can be found in this post on the World Economic Forum Blog.

Written by
Jonathan Jackson

Co-Founder & Chief Executive Officer

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