Lex Mundi Pro Bono Foundation and World Economic Forum Alliance Help Social Entrepreneurs Overcome Impacts of COVID-19

COVIDThe Lex Mundi Pro Bono Foundation is among the founding members of a newly formed alliance of more than 40 global organizations amplifying support of social entrepreneurs during the COVID-19 pandemic. The COVID Response Alliance for Social Entrepreneurs, led by the World Economic Forum and formalized on May 4, 2020, has mobilized more than $75 million thus far and is an unprecedented collaboration that will “support entrepreneurs in pooling knowledge, experience and responses to alleviate suffering and advance new models of change for a more inclusive, equitable and sustainable world.” 

The organizations that comprise alliance collectively support more than 15,000 social entrepreneurs in more than 190 countries. The alliance estimates that their work impacts upwards of 1.5 billion people. 

“The Lex Mundi Pro Bono Foundation’s strategic response to Covid-19 in conjunction with its membership in this alliance demonstrates how Lex Mundi member firms are using their pro bono resources, time, and expertise to make a tremendous impact assisting social entrepreneurs through this difficult time,” said Isis Bous, Managing Director of Lex Mundi Pro Bono Foundation.

“The Lex Mundi Pro Bono Foundation has been a close and invaluable collaborator of Ashoka over the years, whether through pro bono support for Ashoka Fellows on a range of issues or fielding internal Ashoka requests that require additional or outside expertise. This support has ramped up when it’s much needed,” said Annette McGee Johnson, General Counsel, Ashoka. ”The nature of in-house legal work requires increased attention during this time – Lex Mundi has been instrumental in streamlining the process by anticipating emerging needs and providing concise, researched resources to address those needs. The resources from various Lex Mundi member firms are heaven-sent, including information that can be passed on to other Ashoka offices around the world or shared with Ashoka Fellows as relevant, ensuring a broad reach by the Global office. These constituents tend to react with gratitude upon receiving helpful, unsolicited resources and information. The value in time optimization and other cost savings, especially given the unprecedented nature of COVID cannot be unscored enough.” 

“The Lex Mundi Pro Bono Foundation has been a tremendous resource to our grantees over the past few years, and we especially appreciate their support of our grantees at this time,” said Sarah Rahman, Chief of Staff for Social Innovation at Emerson Collective. “We find that nonprofits are currently navigating unfamiliar issues on a very fast timeline, and so it is invaluable to have an organization like Lex Mundi Pro Bono Foundation to anticipate their legal needs and proactively provide helpful resources.”

The social entrepreneurs supported by Lex Mundi Pro Bono Foundation and the alliance work in areas that cut across industries and include poverty, human trafficking, education, equality, sustainability, workplace protections, climate, healthcare and economic opportunity. As social entrepreneurs pivot their work to address pressing needs during the COVID-19 pandemic, such as access to food and water or developing mobile community viral tracing initiatives, some say the support of the alliance is imperative. 

“Social entrepreneurs and their community partners have been working for years to solve market failures and demonstrate more sustainable and inclusive models. These front-line organizations now face bankruptcy and severe constraints while they also innovate and respond to this global pandemic. Through this Alliance, members are committing support for social entrepreneurs to protect decades of work in the impact sector,” said François Bonnici, Director and Head of the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship at the World Economic Forum.

The alliance will provide holistic support to social entrepreneurs as they overcome the impacts of COVID-19. Planned activities of support include: assessing and highlighting needs across the portfolio of social enterprises; amplifying and expanding available financial support for social entrepreneurs; coordinating non-financial support such as social procurement, legal services and technological support; and advancing joint communication efforts to advocate for fiscal and policy interventions. The alliance will also utilize  covidcap.com, a searchable database of emergency funds available to nonprofit and for-profit entrepreneurs during COVID-19, containing global capital relief offers worth more than USD $1 trillion. 

“Lex Mundi member firms are critical allies in supporting social entrepreneurs’ great efforts. They help these organizations to start, grow and achieve their powerful missions. We are thrilled to be a part of this important alliance,” said Bous.

“Echoing Green is grateful for the Lex Mundi Pro Bono Foundation’s partnership during this unprecedented time. Our ability to access and share the Foundation’s curated compilation of international resources with our global community of Fellows has been a vital and seamless way to support entrepreneurs as they navigate this crisis,” says Leah Bloom, Director, Leadership Development, Echoing Green.

The Foundation will primarily be offering support to the alliance by coordinating with other member organizations to assess and highlight the legal needs of social entrepreneurs, assist in monitoring policy developments across jurisdictions, and, whenever possible, offering pro bono legal assistance to social enterprises responding in innovative ways to the impacts of the pandemic. 

“By partnering with the Lex Mundi Pro Bono Foundation, MIT Solve has been able to connect our Solver teams to a global network of pro bono legal support, including legal advice on a range of issues from regulatory compliance to intellectual property,” said Sara Monteabaro, Lead, Learning Community at MIT Solve. “The Foundation’s support has helped these social entrepreneurs navigate the inevitable growing pains of building a social impact venture—particularly in such a challenging climate during the COVID-19 crisis.”