Deshpande Foundation and COVID-19

Posted by Formisano FORMISANO, UN Habitat April 21 2020 0 covid-19

All of us are busy addressing the challenges brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic. Who would have imagined the dramatic changes that have happened in such a short time? Our university partners around the world have moved to a new virtual world of learning. Many activities on campus have had to be cancelled or rescheduled. The foundation too has gone virtual and continues to support its efforts in India, Canada and the US. We would like to highlight some of the ongoing work in this abbreviated newsletter.

The Deshpande Foundation in India held productive discussions with local administrative authorities including the District Commissioner, the Police Commissioner, Zilla Panchayat CEO, Hubballi-Dharwad Municipal Corporation Commissioner, and the District Health officer about harnessing the resources of the Foundation to support their efforts in managing the Covid-19 crisis. In addition, the Foundation has:

    • Donated 1000 face shields to front line workers manufactured by Printlyx, a Deshpande Startup
    • Donated 15,000 masks manufactured by Nayodyami micro-entrepreneurs to the Government of Karnataka
    • Worked in communities to distribute food and groceries in neighborhoods as well as encouraging use of the Arogya Setu app for Covid monitoring
    • Partnered with Deshpande Startup incubatees, Boonbox and freshboxx to deliver essential food and vegetables to urban and rural populations
    • Supported health workers and administrators with an online dashboard to track corona cases that was developed by Deshpande Startups LinkEZ and DocketRun


Deshpande Foundation partner, Akshaya Patra, has channeled its resources and national network of kitchens to provide meals or packed grocery kits to the marginalized and low-income segment of the society in 15 states and union territories. It has distributed over 5,740,281 meals and 266,991 kits consisting of rice, pulses, oil, spices, and vegetables that can serve 2 people with 42 meals for 21 days.

While moving its programming and accelerators online, EforAll reacted quickly to address the needs of hundreds of its alumni who have been forced to close or have seen dramatic fall in revenues. It has compiled an Entrepreneur Resource List online of support resources for startups and entrepreneurs, created a weekly webinar series to cope with the challenges of the crisis and created an online Alumni Shopping Directory of enterprises offering products online. You can watch a recent conversation onManaging your Business Through a Crisismoderated by EforAll CEO David Parker with Desh Deshpande; Gail Goodman, EforAll’s Board Chair; Brad Feld, Founder of Techstars and Frank Carvalho, Co-owner of Expresso Pizza in Lowell that was part of the webinar series.   

The Dunin Deshpande Queens Innovation Center has launched the Spread Innovation Challenge to encourage teams to develop innovative solutions to address the impacts of the Covid-19 crisis. Teams selected will be able to participate through the summer to flesh out their ideas. The Mayor of Kingston in his recent daily brief encouraged the community of Kingston to participate in the challenge.

The Deshpande Symposium, in response to the current restrictions on travel and gathering, has moved to a virtual format and will be held online in June 2020. Details will be forthcoming on its website at

 We would like to thank the brave front line workers who are currently battling this epidemic around the world for their dedication and our thoughts are with all those affected by the virus. We hope to resume our regular newsletter once operations are back to normal. Meanwhile we hope you stay safe and healthy. For more information about the Deshpande Foundation please go here.

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