Lakshmi, a Pollinate Group entrepreneur, distributing food supplies in Banglaore (c) Pollinate Group

Early actions to stop the spread of COVID-19 and help the most vulnerable

By Ariane Gauchat, Team Leader of the Business Partnerships Platform, Palladium

The Business Partnerships Platform brings government, business and NGOs together to scale business opportunities for social impact. The BPP, supported by the Australian Government and implemented by Palladium, has invested in 33 cross-sector partnerships. Our partners are rapidly pivoting their business models and finding innovative ways to support staff and communities during the COVID-19 crisis. 

During the COVID-19 crisis, Business Partnerships Platform (BPP) partners are focused on protecting the wellbeing of their staff, repurposing their resources and networks, and finding ways to support livelihoods through their supply chains.

Here are a few stories of how our partners are leveraging their unique social impact business models to support their communities during these challenging times.

Calling upon informal networks to promote health-seeking behaviour in India

Solar energy social enterprise Pollinate Group has a large network of female entrepreneurs who, in normal times, sell clean energy products in dense urban settlements. This is a major strength for Pollinate and allows them to draw upon the networks of entrepreneurs rather than imposing a top-down distribution system for the products.

In this crisis, Pollinate has realised that the distribution network is also an important information channel, and has supported female entrepreneurs to provide communitylevel information about health and hygiene through remote communications. Pollinate is also working with local partners who have a licence to distribute rations under the lockdown and tackling how to get economic packages to those who need it most. 

Like most businesses Pollinate is responding to the uncertain operating environment by being agile and re-focusing priorities whilst retaining its mission. Sujatha Ramani, CEO of Pollinate Group explains:

“In the face of COVID-19, our mission remains the same, however we are prioritizing and accelerating projects that will enhance our support for women as entrepreneurs distributing products that improve health, save time and save money for their peers. Example projects include cashless transactions, piloting low-touch warehousing for accessibility to product stock via local distributors, and supporting women with bank account access to future-proof earnings and increased financial independence.”

Pollinate Group is partnering with Greenlight Planet and the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade through the Business Partnerships Platform to empower women to sell solar energy in India’s unelectrified communities. Read more here.

Leveraging networks and supply chains to produce personal protective equipment in Kenya

KOKO Networks in Kenya is part of Safe Hands Kenya (SHK), a mission-driven alliance of Kenyan organisations that is deploying free soap, hand-washing stations and masks while disinfecting public spaces to limit the spread of COVID-19 in low-income communities that have limited sanitation. SHK is prioritising its activities for those in most need – in the informal settlements, where social distancing and other recommended approaches to curbing the spread of COVID-19 are near impossible asks. SHK has launched interventions in parts of Nairobi and is now working to scale-up across Nairobi and other at-risk communities across the country.

As well as committing team members and resources to work on this urgent project, KOKO is leveraging its last-mile distribution networks to help distribute these products. For KOKO, it is critical to help support Nairobi’s urban communities, many of whom are clients and rely on KOKO’s ethanol cookstoves and clean fuel in their households every day – now more than ever. 

KOKO Networks is partnering with the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade through the Business Partnerships Platform to expand the range of clean energy appliances that can be served by KOKO’s existing bio-ethanol cooking fuel distribution network in Greater Nairobi. Read more here.

Using corporate expertise to help combat the spread of false health information in Sri Lanka

Dialog Sri Lanka is one of the country’s largest telecommunications providers. During the COVID-19 crisis, Dialog realised there was an issue with people receiving false information about how to protect themselves from COVID-19. In response, Dialog has re-purposed their expertise in information and telecommunications to set up a public hotline providing trustworthy COVID-19 updates and health advice. Dialog has also committed to funding urgently required Intensive Care Units in hospitals selected by the Ministry of Health. The funding will increase the access to critical care services for patients and expand the health system.

Dialog Sri Lanka is partnering with the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade through the Business Partnerships Platform to promote economic growth through financial inclusion in Northern Sri Lanka. Read more here.

If you would like to find out more about the Business Partnerships Platform please join our mailing list at, contact us at in**@th****.au or follow us on LinkedIn.



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