Responding to the Covid-19 pandemic. Work global. Stay local.

What a moment.

Since my last message to you, it’s been quite the journey.

In short – my family and I all managed to get coronavirus.

Can you believe it?

Luckily we came out the other end okay, with pretty minor symptoms all things considered, but it certainly made for a pretty hairy month.

Whilst I was looking after my 5 year old and 9 year old, and their unending coughs, Matheus and I at TIE were also busy understanding this new normal; the reality on the ground in the countries we support, and how we can help.

With the pandemic only now starting to accelerate in the developing world, we were keen to understand what that meant for the countries we work in, and how it is impacting our partner organisations.

For the most part, it’s not looking good. And the experience in the developing world will be worse than that in developed countries.

Social distancing is of course more difficult. Fewer jobs can be done remotely, and people live in extremely cramped quarters in the poorer communities. As a result, the virus will spread quickly, and the health systems just won’t be able to handle the demand. For example, in Malawi, one of the poorest countries in the world, there are only 25 ICU beds and a handful of ventilators in public hospitals, to serve 17 million people.

Let that sink in for a moment.

In the majority of the countries our partners are based, most people need to work for their next meal, and as a result, hunger is already prevailing amongst the poorest populations who are being prevented from going outside, or need people on the streets to buy what they have to offer.

In Brazil, we are witnessing this first-hand. In Olinda, where I live, crime has increased five-fold since lockdown and the streets have become packed with rough sleepers. When I take the dog for a short walk, I am asked by numerous people along the way for food, sanitary products, money, sheets, soap…and the list goes on. This happens daily. In other parts of the country, the streets of favelas and suburbs are still full of people looking to earn their livelihoods. And as of April 28th, with over 68,000 confirmed cases, Brazil is set to become the next big epicentre of the disease along with the United States, although the public health system is already at full capacity and ICU beds and ventilators are already insufficient for the current demand.

Many of the organisations that we work with need to physically deliver their programmes. For Barefeet Theatre, our social partner in Zambia that works with street children and performance, they can’t perform any more, and as a result, can’t earn money to pay people’s salaries. Other organisations aren’t able to carry out essential work, such as ZigWay in Myanmar, that provides food distribution as part of their microcredit programme, unable to physically deliver the food in the current situation. Beneficiaries are being affected in the thousands.

When it comes to adjusting to life under quarantine, the challenges are multiplied in the developing world by factors such as reduced access to the internet, computers or tablets. Shifting children into remote education, for instance, which in itself is already challenging, is often impossible due to such barriers. And the list goes on.

The needs have not gone away in this part of the world. If anything, they are now greater than ever.

And we know, from 13 years of connecting the private sector with the social sector, when companies leverage their skills to benefit society, the impact can be extraordinary.

There are also real benefits to businesses engaging in the urgent needs of our planet. We all need to look at the world in a different way, and rewrite what is possible. In order for companies to have that competitive edge, they need to see things differently, come at problems from a different angle, and reassemble solutions that stimulate our imagination.

Innovative thinking matters more now than ever before.

And TIE is perfectly situated for this moment.

Some organisations are carrying out essential relief efforts: our partners at Maison de la Gare, in Senegal, are providing three meals per day to nearly 2,000 children who would otherwise starve.

We create the leaders that businesses need today.

Still very much rooted in enabling private sector talent to grow in ways they never imagined, we have developed two entirely new virtual programmes that combine leadership development and social impact, to create the leaders of tomorrow. Using the tool of working with NGOs and social challenges to unlock people’s potential.

Virtual Team TIE:

A powerful leadership development programme for a team, achieved through a global development project.
Work Global. Stay Local.

Here we’ll have a group of 4 people getting their hands dirty and virtually tackling a global challenge in a developing country with a diverse peer group of leaders. They will work with various people from the organisation and other stakeholders to explore the challenges at hand, and help find solutions to meet longer-term objectives and strategies.

The objective: to develop network resilience by collaborating with colleagues more effectively in this new normal of working online and virtually. We will provide tools to help unlock insights, to improve understanding of others, to learn how to listen intently to stakeholders that are well placed to inform, to learn how to ask better questions, and discover a leadership style that works for each individual. You can see examples of some live briefs we have available here:

Individual TIE advisor:

COVID-19 advisory task force. Be part of the solution.

Here an individual will work as a virtual advisor for an organisation, working directly with the Director of an NGO in a developing country a couple of hours a week for a period of time, helping them navigate the current crisis. They will have to step out of their comfort zone, use their skills in a completely different environment, learn to think differently, balance different perspectives, learn to listen effectively, unlock insights and ask thoughtful questions in order to help find appropriate solutions posed by the immediate challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. If you’re looking to grow, step out of your bubble, get under the skin of international development, work closely with a social initiative in a developing country, and take action to make the world a better place, check out the opportunities here:

We envision a global economy that uses business as a force for good. And we know we need effective and inspired leaders to take us to where we need to get to. We’ve been connecting the private sector with the social sector to create the leaders of tomorrow since 2007, creating experiences that are both personally challenging and ethically rewarding.

On TIE, everyone wins.

Please, do get in touch if you’d like to know more.
And please do forward this on to anyone who you think would be interested.

“We need to turn the recovery into a real opportunity to do things right for the future” – United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres.