Social entrepreneurs are “at the front line for the protection of socioeconomic well-being,” according to the World Economic Forum (WF), and will play a key role in what the WEF calls The Great Reset, an initiative aimed at revamping and revitalizing the global economy and creating a more just, inclusive and sustainable world.

In an article on the WEF site earlier this year, Klaus Schwab, the WEF’s founder and executive chairman, wrote that the world “must act jointly and swiftly to revamp all aspects of our societies and economies, from education to social contracts and working conditions. Every country, from the United States to China, must participate, and every industry, from oil and gas to tech, must be transformed. In short, we need a ‘Great Reset’ of capitalism.”

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With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, global goals to reduce poverty and curb climate change have been stymied or even gone backwards, according to a Sept. 23 article on the WEF site by Janet Longmore of Digital Opportunity Trust, Jonathan Jackson of Dimagi, Carolien de Bruin of the WEF and Amy Goldman of the GHR Foundation. “Even before the global pandemic, few countries were even close to achieving the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals by the target date of 2030, with the Social Progress Index estimating last year that this date had been pushed back to 2073,” the article states.

The pandemic is making things worse—and making social change harder. The World Bank has projected that the global economy will shrink by 5-8 percent and that more than 100 million people are at immediate risk of slipping into poverty.

this photo shows an impoverished child in Nicaragua and illustrates the need for the Great Reset of global socioeconomics

The pandemic has slowed down progress on the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. (Photo by Ben Richardson on Unsplash)

Social entrepreneurs can help “bridge the gap between public and private interests and institutions,” which is essential to the success of the Great Reset, wrote Longmore, Jackson, de Bruin and Goldman. “Social entrepreneurs serve as a crucial social safety net for the systemic weaknesses, inequalities and market failures that are now apparent. In recent months they have repeatedly demonstrated that, as first responders in this crisis, they have been able to adapt at speed and share their knowledge and assets where they are needed most.”

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People in vulnerable communities often trust social entrepreneurs to bring about real change, they wrote. “Top-down ecosystem players must recognize the role of these front-line leaders and empower and align resources to reinvigorate progress towards the goals of economic inclusion, health, education and social cohesion.”

The article points to initiatives like Catalyst 2030—an international consortium of NGOs, social enterprises, funders and other social-change innovators—that are doing critical work in pursuit of the Sustainable Development Goals. The COVID-19 Response Alliance for Social Entrepreneurs, representing more than 50,000 social enterprises around the world, has also committed to supporting the Great Reset.

“To achieve the Great Reset, we will need more than just the actions of the those considered powerful,” the four authors wrote. “The proximity of social entrepreneurs to the needs of communities, as well as [the] unique innovative power of social entrepreneurs, may just be what we all need to achieve a shift-change in our ability to transform our world and to guarantee a sustainable future for generations to come.

“Through support and recognition of their critical role, social entrepreneurs can be the bridge to recovery and the adoption of new models in education, workforce participation, gender empowerment, expanded access to life-saving products, and digital livelihoods, providing the socio-economic equality that our world needs. The time to get behind social entrepreneurs and let them play their part is now.”

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