What is the Role of Business in Tackling the Coronavirus?

Join us for a live written discussion with a panel of experts to deepen understanding of the role of business in tackling the coronavirus.

Live Panel

Thursday, 19 March, 11am-12pm EDT (3pm-4pm GMT/ 6pm-7pm EAT) [ADD TO CALENDAR ]


On 11th March 2020, the Director-General of the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared novel coronavirus (COVID-19) a pandemic. At time of writing, there are more than 118,000 cases in 114 countries, and 4,291 people have lost their lives. It is likely that many more countries will be affected, with particularly devastating impacts for countries with weak health systems, and for low-income populations across all countries. There is a mixed picture in terms of country and company readiness and multiple sources of information, some of which are not credible and adding to public confusion.

We are launching an urgent process across businesses to accelerate local action and support real-time best-practice learning across markets. The work will be led by Myriam Sidibe, renowned handwashing expert. The work will be anchored around the National Business Compact on COVID-19, a national business coalition campaign in Kenya.

The global knowledge-sharing process is being coordinated by Business Fights Poverty, in partnership with a growing coalition of business networks, including Business Partners for Sustainable Development (BPSD), an initiative of the United States Council for International Business, led by internationally-renowned public health expert, Scott Ratzan MD.

To find out more or how you can get involved, click here.


  1. What is the current situation, and the impact on business and others?
  2. What should be the immediate priorities for business, and what are some good practices?
  3. How can business partner with others to support immediate action, as well as longer-term resilience?


This is a text-based discussion. There will be no video or audio. Please post your comments below. After the live session, this discussion will remain open, so please do continue to share your insights. To receive a free summary of this discussion afterwards, register here.


  • Myriam Sidibe, Initiative Lead, Handwashing Expert, and Senior Fellow from the Mossavar-Rahmani Center for Business and Government, Harvard Kennedy School
  • Liz Patterson, Head of Responsible and Inclusive Business, UK Department for International Development
  • Zahid Torres-Rahman, Founder and CEO, Business Fights Poverty
  • Scott Ratzan MD, internationally-renowned public health expert, Executive Director, Business Partners for Sustainable Development (BPSD), an initiative of USCIB and The USCIB Foundation.
  • Siddarth Chatterjee, UN Resident Coordinator, Kenya
  • Githinji Gitahi, CEO, Amref and lead for the National Business Coalition on Covid-19 Fund
  • Sian White, Research Fellow, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine
  • Justin Apsey, Managing Director, Unilever, Kenya
  • Ambassador Crispin Conroy, Permanent Observer to the UN, Geneva International Chamber of Commerce
  • Matthias Thorns, Deputy Secretary-General, International Organization of Employers
  • Ali Karami Ruiz, Senior Director for Strategic Engagement and Communications, Business, OECD
  • Caroline Ashley, Head, Economic Justice, Oxfam GB
  • Michael Michener, Vice President, Product Policy and Innovation, USCIB
  • Catalina Garcia, Global Director of Corporate Affairs, AB InBev

Moderator: Katie Hyson, Director of Thought Leadership, Business Fights Poverty

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Really looking forward to this discussion


Thanks Myriam - Me too!


As am I!

Paul Polman, former CEO Unilever, has shared his support for the event today via Twitter and Linkedin.

Please help us to get the message out there by retweeting and sharing Paul’s posts:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/PaulPolman/status/1240592207721181185?s=20

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/posts/paulpolman_bfpabrlive-covid19-coronavirusaction-activity-6646359110403133440-wsv3

Look forward to joining you back here soon!


Hi Anna I hope I am in the right place for the written discussion on Corona Virus. Testing Testing!

1 Like

Welcome Peter, you have arrived!

Thank you for joining us. The conversation will kick off at 3pm GMT / 6pm EAT today.

Thanks Ann. I am ready and I will join everybody at 3:00pm .

Hi everyone - I’m really looking forward to this discussion. This session is just one of many that Business Fights Poverty will be hosting with our partners over the coming weeks.

Today is a written discussion (for anyone who was expecting a live video webinar). We are planning a video webinar next week.

To stay up-to-date with the opportunities to engage, please register here: https://snipbfp.org/coronavirus


Great Zahid!. I was a bit lost as I was expectiing a live audio -visual video webinar. But this is now well and clear! Thank you for clarifying.

Good morning everyone, and thanks to BFP and other partners for organizing this - I know I am jumping the gun with questions before we have even “officially” started but I am most interested to hear about C-virus response and mitigation efforts across business sectors working together, and with other stakeholders.


Looking forward to this critical discussion. I would like to know the panel’s thoughts on the role of universities in this crisis. Tufts just announced their plans to convert the university to hospital buildings and beds and called on other universities to do the same.


Preparing for the panel of What is the Role of Business in Tackling the Coronavirus.

1 Like

Thank you Zahid. Looking forward to the discussion.

Yes. Looking forward to the discussion to share and learn.

Hi Jen, I think this will probably vary by location and the Univeristy’s area of expertise. I work for the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. One of the first things we did was release any medically qualified staff to support the National Health System. We also have pulled together a list of specilaist skills to support Public Health England (lab staff and virologists who can help with testing).


Excellent point, Sian. Tufts is keenly positioned here in the Boston area - based on your response, as they have a medical school - as well as a dental and veterinarian school. So they have the expertise, leadership and labs spaces on multiple campuses to make this happen. I’ll be interested in hearing more about how you have fully supported the UK during this crisis. Thank you for participating on this panel. I’m on the Business Partners for Sustainable Development team - and this discussion will help us share learnings and ideas quickly as we built this critical coalition.


Thanks Zahid. Good to chat yesterday. And looking forward to today’s session. Best wishes, all, Crispin


I am looking forward to this as well!


Good Morning and good afternoon to everyone. Looking forward to the discussion.


Hi Matthias, hope you are well. C