An international non-profit grassroots social-economic and educational initiative to help small businesses and self-employed professionals overcome the challenges of the pandemic and reactivate the economy
In 2020 Think Tank AlterContacts launched the Lockdown Economy to help small businesses and self-employed professionals overcome the challenges of the pandemic and reactivate the economy. It is registered by the United Nations as an Acceleration Action for SDG.
From May 2020 until September 2021, we have collected insights from 350 small business owners and self-employed professionals from 42 countries in 17 languages, representing 78 business activities, to see how the COVID-19 pandemic affected their business, their life, and future.
In December 2021, we completed the initiative. To make the insights gathered useful for policy-making and recommendations on entrepreneurship in the post-pandemic world, we have prepared the country reports. This think tank report brings to light specific challenges small businesses faced due to COVID-19 and proposes ways to help them.
We are deeply grateful to entrepreneurs who shared their stories and to our 180 volunteers that made this initiative possible.
The findings of Think Tank AlterContacts have been referenced in the United Nations Report of the Secretary-General A/77/254 from 29 July 2022! It is an honor that our research now contributes to policy-making and shaping of Entrepreneurship for Sustainable Development worldwide.
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 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."
About Lockdown Economy
Small business owners and self-employed professionals learn from each other's experiences, challenges and success in dealing with the crisis.
Entrepreneurs get ideas and learn about new opportunities and product or service needs that are emerging from the pandemic.
University students have a chance to learn from real businesses and connect with professionals, to kickstart their career in the new economy.
Volunteers grow with us. They close the gap on digital skills, collaborate with a global virtual team, prepare their thesis or research to complete their studies, improve their professional profile to find a new job, or open their own business.
This initiative is grassroots: we started it with our own savings and we are all volunteers.
"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.
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.
Awards and Recognition
For helping small businesses during COVID, the volunteers of Think Tank AlterContacts won the Gold Award as Team Hero of the Year in the 14th Annual 2022 Golden Bridge Business and Innovation Awards! Our efforts reached 75 000 people in 42 countries and 17 languages. It brought them hope, encouragement, and much-needed ideas.
On 20 October 2020, the team of the Lockdown Economy received the Gold award in the 13th Annual 2020 World Women Awards® in the category "Hero of the Year | Helping Others During COVID-19".
On 30 March 2021, the Lockdown Economy initiative was chosen by the Dutch representatives in the European Parliament as the national finalist from the Netherlands for the European Charlemagne Youth Prize 2021.
Nominated for Grants from
Media About us
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It’s not just an interview...
The pandemic showed us that even the best economic forecasts cannot predict the future. And even now, governments continue to use average numbers to plan how the economy will go forward. But we want to find out the real stories behind those “averages”.
Behind every small business, there is a story. A personal story of following your dreams, of continuing the family profession, of moving to a new country with no support network, of being let go of the job and still trying to make it on your own, of doing something on a small scale that would be useful for your neighbourhood, of introducing back the simple and sustainable practices. A personal story of care and passion for your family, your community and the world.
Through the Lockdown Economy, we discover and bring attention to the specific needs of micro- and small- businesses, we facilitate social dialogue to face the COVID-19 pandemic together.
For each story our team of volunteers is preparing:
Promotion on our social media and use on university programs
Connection to entrepreneurs and students
Follow-up interview and documented contribution to the SDGs.
"We need to act as a global community in order to come out of the crisis stronger, more resilient and sustainable. This means breaking down barriers, sharing best practices and inspiring big ideas.”
Kristin Schreiber, Director for SME Policy at the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs
We brought the Lockdown Economy to many more universities around the world by hosting a fully-digital competition for tertiary education students. In this Competition, 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. It will prepare young people for their professional life, providing them with an opportunity to learn by doing.
Lockdown Economy Networking Event on 22 June
You are invited! The Lockdown Economy initiative is hosting a networking event. We invite entrepreneurs, professionals, students, and all our supporters to join us. Come for inspiration, ideas, new business opportunities, and collaborations. In one hour you will meet people from around the world who can help you with your current challenge or simply match your interests.
To register for free, simply send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject "A guest of Think Tank AlterContacts".
The event is a collaboration of Think Tank AlterContacts, Entnest and GoBeyond. By joining the event, you become a member of Entnest, the invite-only entrepreneurial community where you can continue building partnerships and finding new ideas.