Lockdown Economy Challenge

The program facilitates a successful school-to-work transition. It has been implemented in universities across Europe and Latin America, involving more than 400 students.

Across the world, young people are being disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly in the world of work. The educational systems are struggling to provide students with the skills required in the modern economy.

Led by the Think Tank AlterContacts and its Academy for Sustainable Development, the UN-recognized initiative working towards innovation in education and a better future, this Competition aims to prepare students for their professional life, providing them an opportunity to learn by doing. 

The set of 330+ small-business case studies for students represents 41 countries and 17 languages. That accounts for the local conditions in different parts of the world.

In this program, students 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. They acquire the skills necessary for the modern labour market. The program has many effective ways to plug into society and have a real impact on current issues. It becomes their vehicle for school-to-work transition.

Lockdown Economy Challenge: Sustainable and Innovative Entrepreneurship for Students has been recognized as a case study for Accelerating Education for the SDGs in Universities by SDSN. The program facilitates a successful school-to-work transition. It has been implemented in six universities, involving 400 students across Europe and Latin America.

Pilot program hosted with the Anahuac Mayab University, Mexico, August 2020

Pilot projects hosted with

MBA Course: Lockdown Economy Challenge

Together with the Anahuac Mayab University in Mexico, and professor PhD Alejandro Kantun, in August 2020 we hosted the pilot of the Academy. It was a 3-weeks MBA course based on the information provided in the Lockdown Economy. Five small-business owners featured in the Lockdown Economy interviews were paired up with five teams of students to address the real business problems of the COVID-19. During three weeks, students worked together with experts to design a new approach and how to implement it. They had multiple conversations to do a reality check and align. It went as far as students actually having to test the ideas they were proposing with the local government and universities. We have seen a very positive reaction both from students and business owners. It was an alternative way to learn and the exposure they got to international business is priceless for their future.

Bachelor Course: Operations Management

Together with the Epoka University in Albania, and PhD Alba Kruja, from November 2020 to February 2021 we carried out the Operations Management Course for 150 Bachelor Students in the 3d year, based on the information provided in the Lockdown Economy. They conducted interviews with small businesses in Albania and prepared an analysis of their operations. 

Lockdown Economy Challenge was nominated for the Social Innovation Tournament of the European Investment Bank Institute. For its innovation in scaling social impact initiatives. 

By equipping students with the skills and network necessary to start a professional life, this project set out to facilitate successful school-to-work transition, promote active citizenship and sustainability education.




Participating universities contribute one-time registration fee to run the competition, receive the toolkit and continuous guidance from the Think Tank AlterContacts.

After signing the collaboration agreement with the Think Tank, the university announces the competition and the deadline to its students. 

It is open to apply for any student of the participating universities.

Impact on Sustainable Development Goals

You can continue being active in business, even if the majority of the work is being postponed to “better times”. By partnering with various organizations and clients both on pro-bono and business bases you can reimagine and rebuild the future together. Learn from Poom Narudee Kristhanin, the CEO and Founder of Eureka Global, a transformation consultancy based in Thailand that has been active in the Asian market since 2006.

Most companies are focusing on business as usual, and very few are preparing for new uncertainties, scenarios and making the most of the opportunities that come up from the crisis. How can you understand your business better and how to spot unique opportunities in instability? Learn from Fabrizio Faraco, the founder of In Sprint, an Italian based facilitation business, that helps companies achieve success and autonomy. 

What students say after completing the Challenge?

“When it comes to the future since I am a business student, I think that this experience has helped me a lot to understand how a business takes these difficulties and turns them into opportunities.”

“After finishing this assignment, I feel that now I have a better understanding of how the lockdown has affected multiple small businesses not only in my country but also globally.“ 

“It made me conscious that I am able to make some change and help these small businesses overcome this difficult situation.“

“This initiative helped me understand in a great extent the impact COVID-19 had in the operating life of a small business and also deepen my understanding in their everyday operations.“

“It was very helpful in my academic studies to concentrate on the important parts and fundamentals of how managers of small businesses actually manage the everyday challenges that these kinds of problems bring.“

“It gave me an opportunity to see the practical side of the operations of a business and get a glimpse of the challenges and opportunities they have to expand.“

“It was very rewarding seeing that with this initiative they can get as much help as possible by getting more noticed and showing the work that they do and trying to keep the business going.“

“It would definitely affect me in the future when I open my own small business and be more careful in taking further steps of expanding and dealing with the challenges.“

“We really gathered valuable information from different fields of businesses such as operations management, consumer behavior, social media marketing, etc.“

“This was a great experience which will be a plus in my future life.“

“From the conversation, we had with the owner of the businesses we understood that at first things might seem difficult, but if you work hard and adapt to changes in order to fulfil the needs then you are on the right path to success.“

“I learned to improve my leadership and teamwork skills.“

“The project that gave me inner happiness, also a good experience to mention in my CV.“ 

“I found this project very valuable for my education now and the future career I plan on choosing.“ 

“The interview with the business representative helped me understand from a business owner’s point of view, the impact that the pandemic had on the business and the economy overall.“ 

“It was different from what we are taught in school, we saw real-world cases and learned how to implement the theory in practice, recognize the difficulties SMEs face in such situations and what they should do to overcome them.“

“During this project, I was able to understand how small businesses fight every day for securing their minimal profits in order to survive.“

“It has helped me realize what being an entrepreneur really means, given the few resources available they have and the crucial decisions they have to take.“

“I really hope to do such activities again in the future, as they would improve me professionally and also help me improve as a person.“

“I learnt thoroughly about the pros and cons that this Lockdown brought to our small businesses here in Albania.“

“This initiative helped me realize that even during the lockdown, hard work pays off.“

“I am extremely glad that I got the chance to be part of this amazing idea, which I believe will affect our lives for the better.“

“Without any doubt, I would do this once again, mainly for the reason that we never stop learning and I think that everything changes really quickly, which enhances the idea of learning and adapting to unknown situations.“

“I am very grateful for this opportunity which was handed to me. I want to thank everyone for bringing their expertise and experience around the table and engaging in such fruitful, constructive and open exchanges throughout this initiative.“

“The initiative has been valuable to me because I aspire to start my own business sometime in the future.“

“It was interesting to listen to all the struggles and challenges that the business had gone through during this difficult time, especially when the lockdown was not lifted yet. It was even more impressive to listen to the business owners to explain the amazing solutions that they came up with, which basically saved their businesses.“

“This project made me realize a lot of things, and most importantly working with these entrepreneurs and my team felt very good at the time when we are finding it difficult to even get off the bed and socialize.“

“This project helped me understand that you have to be humble and work hard even when things are challenging you a lot.“

“This initiative makes me look at challenges that come in my life as there is nothing that can stop me from accomplishing my goals.“