Global Think Tank for Sustainable Development

Acting as a virtual laboratory for civil society ideas on sustainable development, Think Tank AlterContacts aims to be the driver of positive change contributing to the SDGs. We identify institutional voids or societal problems that are not addressed, bring attention to them, and incubate possible solutions that could be adopted globally.

Our flagship initiatives are dedicated to academic innovation and enabling small businesses to overcome the pandemic. They are registered by the United Nations as SDG Partnerships.

We innovate by simplifying. We generate laser-focused ideas to address broad challenges and develop highly tailored solutions with systemic impact. Our rapid scale-up strategy for social impact is recommended in the United Nations SDG Good Practices network as an "example to follow and replicate by others across the globe".

On 28 June, Think Tank AlterContacts presented the Lockdown Economy at the United Nations Conference celebrating Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Day 2021. We presented insights on entrepreneurship during the pandemic based on Lockdown Economy, the field research from 330+ entrepreneurs across 5 continents, 41 countries, and 78 different economic activities. Showing what role they are playing in restoring the global economy!

The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the world as we knew it. Or has it? Perhaps, it has only disrupted the notions, rules, and beliefs by which the world is run. But once we let go of past conditioning, of things that are holding back our thinking and imagination - - for example that to contribute to a good cause we need financing and there is no other way - - we discover the true meaning our actions can have on society. In this TED talk, Julia Skupchenko shares her journey during the global disruption of 2020 and the role small businesses and grassroots initiatives play in building a new world after the pandemic, making it more equal and sustainable.

The UN Department of Social and Economic Affairs has registered Lockdown Economy as one of the SDG Good Practices, Success Stories and Lessons Learned. Our initiative has become one of the "inspiring breakthroughs and success stories that are showing results and impacts all over the world, and several good practices can be replicated and scaled up to address existing gaps and constraints."

Across the globe, young people are being disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly in the world of work. Recent graduates are struggling to enter the labor market. The current situation calls for a more efficient and dynamic education. We want to give young people opportunities to develop their potential to shape the future of the world.

The United Nations has registered it as an SDG Partnership in the framework of the Higher Education Sustainability Initiative (HESI).

The educational systems are struggling to provide students with the skills required in the modern economy. This Competition aims to prepare students for their professional life, providing them an opportunity to learn by doing. Students will actively address the current economic crisis and come up with sustainable, innovative and entrepreneurial ideas on how we can help small businesses around the world.

Finalist at the Stanford 2021 LEAD Incubator & Startup Accelerator program. The prototype is a gamified portal to navigate, select and access games and educational entertainment titles via a guided interactive experience. The curated pre-selection filters out titles that do not contribute to the well-being, growth or improvement of the users.

On 30 March 2021, the Lockdown Economy initiative by the Think Tank AlterContacts was chosen by the Dutch representatives in the European Parliament as the national finalist from the Netherlands for the European Charlemagne Youth Prize 2021. For its contribution to promoting European and international understanding and providing role models for young people living in Europe and offer practical examples of Europeans living together as one community.

To help small businesses and self-employed professionals overcome the challenges of the pandemic and reactivate the economy, in May 2020 we launched the Lockdown Economy. It is a global non-profit grassroots social-economic and educational movement.

The United Nations has recognized it as an Acceleration Action for the Sustainable Development Goals.

Hero of the Year Award

On 20 October 2020, the team of the Lockdown Economy received the Gold award in the 13th Annual 2020 Women in Business and the Professions World Awards®. In the category "Hero of the Year | Helping Others During COVID-19".

The COVID-19 pandemic has made confinement a defining part of our lives. The interaction with our families and friends happens digitally. The children are remotely- schooled, their parents are working from home. In many countries, mobility is limited to getting food and medical services. For the majority of the world’s population, that has become a reality because of COVID-19 but for people with disabilities, it has been the way of living long before.

Our idea is to provide a safe and entertaining environment where anyone can learn about complex subjects.

This is a one-level prototype. The idea is to provide a safe and entertaining environment where anyone can learn about particle physics. It serves as a prototype of a learning micro-module for the future "Info-verse”.

The mini game is available for free both in Apple and Google Store.

The goal of our project is to create opportunities to cover basic needs (food, shelter, medical support) for self-employed people who lost their source of income due to the pandemic. That will be done by enabling the government to outsource remote office tasks to freelancers and self-employed through existing freelance platforms.

Our proposal was submitted to the European Commission during #EUvsVirus online Hackathon 24-26 April 2020.

We aim to Empower Entrepreneurship across the globe. Our goal is to prototype a new economy, based on trust, where all agents -- entrepreneurs, freelancers, independent professionals and startups -- contribute to each other’s well being in a sustainable way. We believe that whatever their reason was to start on their own, the brave ones that do deserve genuine and high-quality support. Not as a one-off but consistently along their entrepreneurial journey. We don’t promise anyone the mountains of gold. Instead, we help them learn, connect and grow in what they do.

On 10 September 2020, Think Tank AlterContacts was named the winner of a Bronze Stevie® Award as a Non-profit Organization of the Year 2020 in The 17th Annual International Business Awards®

Ignorance goes beyond illiteracy and innumeracy. It manifests itself in a lack of knowledge and an inability to process information. It affects the way we perceive reality, interact with and distinguish facts from opinions, and how we make decisions. Eradicating it is not just about producing new knowledge but about sharing it in a way that reaches the minds of people, about finding alternative ways of education. Through our initiatives and campaigns, we hope to bring knowledge and a fact-based approach back to various spheres of life, all ages, and countries.

On 20 October 2020, Think Tank AlterContacts was named the Bronze winner as a Social Impact Startup of the Year 2020 in the 13th Annual 2020 Women in Business and the Professions World Awards®.

In January 2020 we tested a new campaign #MyFirstJob #TenYearsIn. In this campaign, we ask people with over ten years of experience to share, in a short video, what is the reality of the job like. It is aimed at children who are deciding which profession or education path to choose. In most cases, it will define their lives, ability to support themselves financially and find fulfillment in what they do. We make this choice early on, often having an illusion of how the work-life is going to be. The more people contribute with their videos, the more children will have an idea of what is right for their future. Right now we are planning to make it an international campaign in multiple languages.

Shared Access to Intellectual Property is a consortium proposal. The goal is to set up a transparently governed organisation to work on a shared and open set of standards and protocols to connect the dots of design, specifications, hackers, repairers, manufacturers, to unbind in the material world the same kind of transformation that the World Wide Web brought to the information ecosystem. The approach is based on the success stories of other initiatives like the World Wide Web consortium and LINUX, among others.

Featured Publications

In this book, we bring you eighteen unique entrepreneurial stories from Nepal, gathered between September 2020 and February 2021. You will find insights into their entrepreneurial journeys through the pandemic. In these difficult times, many of them believed collaboration is better than competition. They have highlighted the importance of society supporting their local businesses. A positive business ecosystem where everybody looks out for each other can help in overcoming the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In this book, we collected inspiring stories from small business owners of the Middle East, recorded from November 2020 to April 2021. Young and mature entrepreneurs from Lebanon, the United Arab Emirates, Jordan and Cyprus shared their ways of facing the challenges of the pandemic head-on. Many of the businesses presented here were actually born during COVID-19. What differentiates the entrepreneurial stories from the Middle East is just how much they are supported by the local community: family, friends, neighbors, fellow entrepreneurs - everyone is eager to help one another. It may be the help with the production process, delivery, spreading the word, or actually purchasing the product. Whatever it is, it gives one a feeling of being supported.

"If each of us helps somebody else once per day, the World would really be different." In this book, we put together twelve stories from small business owners in the Netherlands. From the most recent ones recorded in March 2021 to our initial interviews in June 2020. You will meet and get insights from inspiring makers facing the multiple lockdowns; find out how they deal with down-time and unexpected growth; what or who is helping them in their journey; and how they see the future playing out. From conscious food and beverage businesses to sustainable fashion and tableware to a social IT enterprise — we tried to bring you a wide variety of stories and ideas.

News and Events

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