Y&Y at the COVID-19 Collective Action Summit

April 30, 2020

At the time I am writing this post, 2,800,000+ people have been affected by the current pandemic worldwide. It has already reached all regions and killed 190,000+ people. Before such an unexpected and rapidly scaling situation, people and organizations all over the world have designed solutions to reduce its impact. We are now witnessing unprecedented global collaboration, with thousands people collaborating on a distance, millions of dollars being donated and numerous innovations sources being launched. We couldn’t be out of it! 

Between April 20th and 21st, Yunus & Youth has partnered with other international youth-supporting organizations, including Ashoka, Bosch Alumni Network, Bridge for Billions, ChangeNOW, ChangemakerXchange, Ginkgo Foundation, Global Changemakers, Global Shapers, and Obama Foundation to launch the COVID-19 Virtual Summit & Coalition of Youth Changemakers. 

During the Summit, four main objectives were reached:

  1. Building a sense of belonging among changemaker participants;
  2. Increasing personal sustainability as opposed to stress among changemakers and their teams;
  3. Teaching changemakers concrete, actionable skills that they can implement to tackle the crisis and 
  4. Encouraging the changemakers to take collective action.

Illustration by: Housatonic


Some of the Y&Y Fellows and alumni have joined and contributed to the Summit, as they are designing solutions to reduce the negative impacts of the crisis associated with COVID-19.

Here are the Y&Y Fellows who joined the COVID-19 Virtual Summit & Coalition of Youth Changemakers:


Sara Rajabli, Azerbaijan

Through the Social Business Youth Center, Y&Y Fellow Sara Rajabli is supporting underprivileged people in building their business with 0 budget through free mentorship. The initiative has impacted 100+ young people and 40 mentors, and 35 businesses were launched!

In her own words, “This summit broke all stereotypes about interactiveness level of virtual summits. I couldn’t even notice how these days passed, as we have been so passionate to learn from each other, to share best practises from our backgrounds and communities, to have access to global resources, to be actual hosts and facilitators of the summit. If the virtual summit could be so interesting, I imagine how it would be energizing and fun in real life!” 


Sameera Chukkapalli, Spain

Through NeedLab, Y&Y Fellow Sameera Chukkapalli has created a Face-mask Disinfection Device to ensure that face-masks can be reused in a healthy way during the crisis. Soon, the product will be installed in retirement homes, supermarkets and pharmacies for people to sterilize their masks.

To summarize her experience at the Summit, Sameera would say: “There is hope! there is hope! I have seen it! I have seen it first hand at this summit! There is a community where you can uplift each other! It’s now up to you, to be part of that community”. 


Kasha Sequoia, Canada

Through The Global Sunrise Project, Y&Y Fellow Kasha Sequoia created a campaign to make resources available online, to promote positive values and vision and to foster a cohesive and collective consciousness. In her words, “we need global action now”, and we should “use the technology we’ve got to come together for social good”.


Ibrahim Mpwabe, Uganda

Y&Y Fellow Ibrahim Mpwabe created COVID-19 Fact Check Campaign, a social media consumer platform for youths that aims to reduce deception and all forms of fake media content about the COVID-19 pandemic across Sub-Saharan Africa.


María del Mar Jaramillo Salcedo, Colombia

Through her initiative, Fundación Soy Oportunidad, María and her team received donor resources to deliver food to more than 120 beneficiary families. They are starting campaigns with companies that need to continue their production, but can delegate the work to be done from home. The foundation monitors people who start working with partner companies, so that they effectively fulfill their work with quality.


Arthur Lima, Brazil

His social business, AfroSaúde, promotes multidisciplinary action in health to serve the peripheral population of Salvador. It will offer a telephone and internet support network so that the population can have free access to information and guidance. In addition, it will carry out a mapping and georeferencing of the real demands of the Brazilian peripheral population of Salvador regarding COVID-19, for more precise performance in health care.


Omar Assaf, Lebanon

In Lebanon, Omar’s social business, SHiFT, is intervening through its digital resources, the Media lab and the social media accounts by posting awareness videos, precautions, instructions and by sharing valuable virtual opportunities. It is also providing virtual coaching sessions for the startups and Nano & Micro businesses on how to respond to the crisis. It is also working now on an emergency intervention plan which will start with the distribution of daily meals for the vulnerable people in the community.

In his own words, “It is really amazing to be connected to other change makers and like-minded entrepreneurs from around the world having the same values and they are trying to spread positivity, knowledge and support. I learned from those 2 days that summits can happen even on lockdown period, feel connected with other entrepreneurs, exchange tools and know-how, know about initiatives from other countries and regions and start discussion on how to collaborate. On a personal level, I learned not to judge myself in a bad way, I realized after the quarantine mode and personal reflection that we are doing impact, we need to sit back and do some rewind and watch what we did, contribute, participate and most importantly is what impact we were part of! Then we can feel that we can push for more and make this world a better place. What I really want after those 2 days is to know about each person participating in those 2 days and if we can collaborate, exchange ideas, share opportunities or simply to be connected.”

Illustration by: Housatonic


Samwel Naimasia, Kenya

To curb the COVID-19 crisis, Smart Shamba (his social business) has adopted a digital platform to create access to videos and SMS with advice on agricultural best practices. Farmers are also able to order farm inputs online and have them delivered to their farms.

In his own words, “I was inspired listening in on stories and activities that the participants engage in, indeed we all are motivated to make a difference especially during this crisis period. From the conversations in the summit, it is clear that the world is facing an unprecedented challenge. COVID-19 has claimed the lives of people we know and love, upended millions of livelihoods, and forced all of us to change the ways we interact with one another. I listened to some amazing stories of how people are coping with the crisis and some have brilliant innovations demonstrating the courage and commitment across the world to deal with this pandemic. The coming days may be difficult and uncertain, for this reason we need to move forward together so we can emerge stronger.”


John Jal Dak, Uganda

John’s social business, Youth Social Advocacy Team, does the following to curb the spread of COVID-19 among Refugees in Uganda: 

  1. Mass community awareness and sensitization through Mobile Public Address System mounted on vehicles, Static Public Address System at strategic positions, Megaphones, Bodaboda Talk Talk and door to door movement with assistance of community volunteers in all zones of the settlement.
  2. Establishment of Community Information Centres in all the seven zones of Rhino camp and Imvepi refugee settlements for access to latest updates on the disease, feedback and emergency coordination on Coronavirus related issues.
  3. Recording and translating key messages to seven fundamental languages in the settlements namely Arabic, bari, nuer, dinka, lugbara, murle and moru for distribution as printed IEC material.
  4. Production of local Sensitization films and songs and film screening for community sensitization.
  5. Provision of local transport means and airtime facilitation for Refugee Leaders to improve coordination and reporting.
  6. Community radio talk show and provision of hotlines to the general public for maximum engagement and effective referral mechanisms.
  7. Promotion of public hygiene through installation of mass 1000 hand washing facilities and procurement of 200 Litres of Liquid soap in all business centers at every village.


Routouang Mohamed Ndonga Christian, Chad 

The Youth Network for Development and Leadership in Chad (RDJLT), Routouang’s social business, seeks to inform, inspire and encourage Chadian youth to engage and act in civil society. plans to organize an awareness campaign in favor of the Chadian population in order to inform them about the coronavirus.

The main objective is to educate and inform the population about COVID-19, to teach them the different techniques and precautions to adopt to prevent as well as what to do in the event of infection or in the presence of an infected person.

Check out what he has to share about his experience:

The Virtual Summit was a unique opportunity for me to connect with people who are putting aside their cultural, ethnic, religious and colourful diversities to respond to a global emergency. I felt particularly at home in a world that is closer despite the distance. I have learned and I believe I have all the resources to better carry out our organization’s COVID-19 response plan and we will be engaging in the coming days in the search for technical and financial partners to support us. I have also learned that we can feel close to people even without knowing them.”


Maria Del Pilar Aristizabal Pineda, Colombia

Through Maria’s social business, Life Academy, she is contributing to reducing the negative impacts of the crisis through a mental health initiative for young people, as it is one of the fundamental issues we need to take care during quarantine, especially because it is the population with the highest risk of suicidal thoughts. In Colombia, one of the causes for suicidal thoughts is the non-functional family environment. That is why Life Academy  built a digital platform where our students will be able to access the workshops and exercises online as well as support from our psychosocial team. In addition, they are in the process to find the best way to deliver our workshops into an electronic tool that can be provided to each student who has no internet at their home. They have the goal to deliver it to 100 students during this month.


Paulo Mpokwa, Tanzania

Paulo noticed, amid the COVID-19 crisis, the importance of social distancing amongst handymen who are looking for jobs and customers looking for services.

His social business, the Fundi App, focuses on helping more than 5 million people in Dar es Salaam to stay-at-home by remotely connecting them to handymen/technicians using their mobile application. He and his team work to ensure continuity of access to home services such as plumbing, electrical repairs, AC and satellite TV maintenance. The workforce is trained on COVID-19 standard precautions and use of personal protective equipment.

For him, these were his key takeaways: “Self-care! Find a routine to help you keep your mental and physical energy intact; User this time to revive/grow your personal and professional network and share good and positive news for a change!” 

When sharing his experience in the Summit, he also added: “It was amazing to see so many new and beautiful faces from across the world – We travelled without VISA sitting in our living rooms!”


Amanda Obidike, Nigeria

Through her social business, STEMi Makers Africa, Amanda is addressing the COVID-19 Pandemic by providing schools with access to their e-learning platform where teachers and mentors assign tasks to students. It is an e-learning platform where parents/wards can monitor their children’s activities, including their scores, performance, activities and attendance. This initiative is to harmonize the three parties for better growth of the students because they can reach out to their teachers or parents if they encounter any challenge.

The initiative also offers skill-based training and mentorship online where we pair young students (especially women) in the university to experienced professionals in STEM related fields. They are passionate about the future economic growth of Africa as it depends on an aligned education system that supports developmental efforts in generating talents needed to become self-reliant and technology problem-solvers.Therefore, with this digital technology, young people (secondary schools and University students) can access online education tools for continuous learning, career support and development.

When sharing her experience at the Virtual Summit, Amanda has highlighted many learning takeaways. Among them, she emphasized: 

  • “The power of reading. In this period, we can and should balance our mental well-being, especially turning away from the media updates. Reading reduces the symptoms of depression, anxiety, and stress. It engages our mind and takes our mind from the present situation;
  • Hope. Where there is Life, there is Hope. COVID-19 Pandemic is not the end of this world. While we wait for the world to get better, we can share a message of hope and positivity around us.
  • Time Management – I learned of new and exciting tools that can help me prioritize my daily work, manage my time effectively and also properly account for the time I spend”

In addition, she decided to take action. After being encouraged to contribute to solving the current crisis, she has decided to: “Share every learning experience, tools, and facilitation models to [her] team and community; give others the chance to lead and connect with other participants from the Summit to contribute with their work as well”. 


Buchi Nduka, Nigeria

Buchi is managing two campaigns in response to the COVID-19 crisis. 

#WomenAgainstCOVID19 is an online campaign, born with the aim of inspiring, uplifting, motivating, empowering and teaching women how to not just survive, but to thrive within these trying times. The campaign is a two-way approach. First, it will feature online campaigns, broadcast and Q&A sessions designed to teach women on how to take care of themselves, their households, keep up with work commitments and make good use of this time to grow spiritually and intellectually, despite the prevailing pressures.  It’s a time to stop and share with those women who are underprivileged during this crisis.

#mothersonlockdown is a daily journal of a single mother’s experience on lockdown in Lagos, Nigeria. It began as a wake up call to help motivate and inspire mothers to stay strong, happy and safe through story-telling.


Carolina Zuheill Candelario Rosales, Mexico

With the use of artificial intelligence, PROMESA (Carolina’s social business) defines parameters that allow them to analyze the state of health of a person and to show if they are carriers of the disease. For this, vital signs measurements are made, respiratory capacity is evaluated and a chest x-ray is taken. In this way, a comparison is made with what was found in patients who have suffered from COVID. This helps to size the problem and take preventive measures.


If you are a young social entrepreneur struggling to pivot your business to tackle the challenges aggravated by the COVID-19 pandemic, download our new toolkit. We hope these resources will help you and your organizations thrive during these challenging times.

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