In March 2020, the global tourism industry shuddered to a halt. Travel corridors closed. Stations and airports emptied. Suitcases were stored away. A year and a half later, the outlook for tourism – and the many jobs that depend on it – remains uncertain.
Governments around the world should back the social economy as they look to lay the foundations for a strong, sustainable recovery. Global challenges such as the pandemic, climate change, and digitalisation are reshaping our world and demand novel solutions. The social economy is ready to step up and deliver.
Earlier this year, we marvelled as billionaire entrepreneurs Richard Branson and Jeff Bezos reached for the stars through trial launches of rockets developed by Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin. In many ways, their race represents popular perceptions of entrepreneurship – the expression of a drive that is ambitious, competitive, innovative, and…. male.
It needn’t be that way.
Over the course of the pandemic, the bustling, busy city spaces of the world have – for long periods – lain empty as citizens retreated indoors to shelter from the virus. These empty spaces and closed doors have become a powerful, visible symbol of the impacts of the pandemic, which have been felt keenly by the UK’s eleven “Core Cities” of Belfast, Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Glasgow, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle, Nottingham and Sheffield.
While the pandemic’s health impacts have fallen mainly on older generations, in many countries it is the young who have proved most vulnerable to its economic impacts. For the young, this has become a crisis not just of health but of opportunity. For more than a year, they have seen job prospects dry up and their learning interrupted.
Countries around the world continue to grapple with the economic and social emergency caused by the pandemic. But looking ahead, this year’s Micro-, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (MSMEs) Day—on 27 June—provides an opportunity to embrace SMEs and entrepreneurship as the driving force behind our recovery.