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EJS Center / News / Ellen Johnson Sirleaf speaks at Unreasonable Impact COVID-19 Response Global Summit

Ellen Johnson Sirleaf speaks at Unreasonable Impact COVID-19 Response Global Summit

As the devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has spread, entrepreneurs and innovators around the world have mobilized to respond. The Unreasonable Impact COVID-19 Response Global Summit was organized by Unreasonable Group, in partnership with Barclays, as part of an initiative to support entrepreneurial solutions that address immediate and long term challenges resulting from the pandemic. 

The online summit on Wednesday, July 8th, featured former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Founder & CEO Thrive Global Arianna Huffington, former 2020 US Presidential Candidate Andrew Yang, and Grammy Award winning artist Armando Christian Pérez “Pitbull”. They were joined by representatives from 10 companies that are leveraging business to directly make an impact on COVID-19.

Each of the 10 companies has been awarded a $100,000 USD grant from the organizers in order to put their projects into action. This award has enabled initiatives that range from creating a marketplace that helps companies reduce waste by distributing items to those in need during the crisis, to the development of devices that reduce the risk of COVID-19 air contamination – among many other inspiring initiatives.

As one of the Summit’s keynote speakers, Madam Sirleaf addressed how COVID-19 has ultimately led to “a call to action for reforms that have no blueprint, no online research to use as a pilot.” She stressed that although COVID-19 has had a paralyzing effect on the economy, it has also called for “a new world order” that strengthens the pillars of democratic governance, provides opportunities for women and youth, makes trade fairer, and ultimately strengthens humanity. 

Madam Sirleaf also highlighted four key lessons that could be taken from Liberia’s experience with Ebola and applied to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Leadership: “Only hands-on, exemplary leadership can make the hard and sometimes unpopular decisions in the national interest.”

Communication: “There is a need for continuing, timely, and honest information to the public to ensure compliance and effective implementation of containment policies and measures.”

Coordination: “It is important that all national stakeholders are working from a coordinated common agenda.”

Partnership: “The world is interconnected and intertwined, even more so through digital technology and travel. Only with the support of Liberia’s partners through equipment, medical supplies, technical assistance, and financial resources, were we able to defeat the virus in record time.”

Learn more about the summit here.