The COVID-19 crisis has exposed vulnerabilities in international aid and development finance cooperation, as governments prioritise domestic responses to the pandemic while NGOs and multilateral agencies are unable to effectively implement development projects due to safety concerns.
However, the crisis has also shown that private and public stakeholders are able and willing to collaborate in new ways to alleviate the effects of the pandemic where the need is most urgent; the World Health Organisation (WHO) has created the Solidarity Response Fund at short notice which has raised more than $200 million from private donors, Norway and France have both called for vast aid to be directed to African countries for pandemic response, the IMF has made $1trn in lending available while bolstering its debt forgiveness trust fund and numerous private companies such as Mercedes-Benz, Dyson and Google have begun using their core productive potential to find creative solutions for those in need.
As the threat of COVID-19 forces a new, distanced way of life for citizens across the world, Innovest remains as committed as ever to working with public and private capital to address the world’s most challenging issues in the world’s most vulnerable countries.
This work is desperately needed in these countries. As advanced health systems battle to avoid being overwhelmed by the virus, it is spreading to the world’s poorest and most vulnerable countries where it may cause far greater destruction. In fragile states, war zones and refugee camps, ‘flattening the curve’ is difficult for the millions that live in crowded conditions without regular access to water for handwashing. Staying at home is not an option for the extreme poor that have no savings to rely on. If they do fall ill, these populations face limited access to health systems that have almost no respiratory capacity.
From Innovest’s new virtual office, our support to develop high quality, market-based solutions with clients has become even more significant as a number of our partners reorganise their operations to offer services that are critical to the response of developing countries to this deadly, global pandemic:
Left: Innovest’s virtual office, Right: One of the 100 shipments made to Sierra Leone by Crown Agents in the first 2 weeks of response
Crown Agents, who are world class logistics and last mile health procurement specialists and were the logistics “spine” of the Ebola response in Sierra Leone in 2014, has an emergency COVID-19 team of over 30 staff across the globe who are working 24 hours a day to respond to the rising global needs, working with the 450 strong global Crown Agents movement.
Since Crown Agents began its COVID-19 Response in early March, it has procured and delivered over 275 tonnes of life saving medical equipment and supplies. It is currently working directly with over 45 countries to support their COVID-19 response, while negotiations are ongoing to expand this service to a group of 13 island nations. Crown Agents are in the process of delivering a shipment of 27 containers of essential supplies such as antibiotics, paracetamol and personal protective equipment to the 800 health clinics they serve under its South Sudan Health Pooled Fund, as well as hygiene and wash posters and the erection of COVID-19 screening tents.
Left: COVID-19 preparedness meeting with the government and partner organisations in NW Tanzania practising social distancing Right: In Boa Vista, Brazil, the first group of refugees and migrants from Venezuela with suspected COVID-19 resettled to Better Shelter units (Credit https://twitter.com/Better_Shelter)
Better Shelter is a humanitarian shelter specialist who provides safe, temporary structures that serve as health care facilities and accommodation for displaced persons all over the world. They have worked with partners such as UNHCR, MSF and UNICEF to establish healthcare clinics for asylum seekers in Mexico, to monitor and treat Ebola in the Democratic Republic of Congo and to serve primary healthcare needs in Bangladesh. Furthermore, the modular design of their structures enables flexible size and layout depending on facility needs, allowing for smaller healthcare modules that have been identified by authorities globally as key to COVID-19 disease management. In the current crisis they are seeing significant demand for their shelters as COVID-19 screening and isolation units both in refugee and non refugee contexts and in both developing and developed markets. One such example is their partnership with IKEA and the Swedish Red Cross to provide temporary health facilities outside of Swedish hospitals.
Innovest has provided strategic support to both of these organisations to help them efficiently pivot to respond to the crisis, including business and impact strategy, communication of their work, facilitation of capital raising and networking.
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