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Unlocking innovation by solving inequality

Coronavirus is forcing us to reexamine how we live and work. It’s vital to make sure that no part of society is left behind while we recover.

The Rockefeller Foundation’s welcome decision to spend $10 million promoting inclusive growth in the United States is hopefully the start of wider attempts to reshape society in the wake of coronavirus.
The foundation will fund local government, business, faith-based and non-profit organisations in 10 cities over several years. The aim is to protect communities from displacement and remove barriers to capital and credit among BAME business owners and workers.


Figures from the foundation show that life expectancy is more than 15 years lower in minority neighbourhoods than wealthier ones in the same city. This is a staggering statistic and sadly is an issue that is not just confined to the United States. It’s depressing that despite the progress made from the Civil Rights movements onwards, statistics like this continue to exist. The recent Black Lives Matter protests have shone a light on the ongoing failure of many governments to deal with racial inequality and systemic failures.


To look at one issue among sadly too many, a lack of access to credit harms us all. The global economy is nosediving and mass unemployment is inevitable. Denying credit to BAME communities will deprive cities of much needed jobs and revenue, as well as stymieing innovation.


As seems likely, we are about to head into a depression as severe of that of the 1930s. In spite of the considerable challenges people faced, that decade saw the invention of the jet engine, helicopter and radar. One hopes we will see equivalent transformational technology invented during the next 10 years but failing to support all our communities will lead to missed opportunities and a potential reduction in quality of life in where we live and work.


The coronavirus gives fresh impetus to combatting inequality. A strong economy will help countries rebuild in the years ahead, foster innovation and help transform our cities for the better. The Rockefeller Foundation’s move this week is a way that public and private organisations can come together to reduce inequality, help its citizens and benefit wider society.


More clearly needs to be done, whether it’s finally determining whether universal basic income will work, reforming tax or increasing the minimum wage, to name three of many.


Coronavirus is forcing us to reexamine at how we live and work. It’s vital to make sure that no part of society is left behind while we recover.


What I’m reading:


How to avoid the coronavirus as the world reopens (The Financial Times)

Modeling the Human Trajectory (Open Philanthropy)

An understanding of AI’s limitations is starting to sink in (The Economist)


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