Companies Mobilize Urgent Funds to India With UNICEF USA

May 25, 2021

India's brutal second wave of COVID-19 calls for urgent action. Companies are answering that call by supporting UNICEF's emergency response.

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues its deadly surge in India, companies have mobilized to fund UNICEF’s relief efforts. In a remarkable response, UNICEF USA raised more than $10 million from over 15 companies in just three weeks to support COVID-19 relief in India. This funding is increasing access to lifesaving oxygen and rapid COVID-19 testing across the country. Oxygen is critical to treating patients with moderate to severe COVID-19 symptoms, and rapid, accurate testing is an essential tool in combatting virus outbreaks.

In just 3 weeks, UNICEF USA raised over $10 million from more than 15 companies to help fight the spread of COVID-19 in India

“UNICEF USA is grateful for continued support from companies who share our same determination to step up and respond to the urgent need in India. We know that until we are all safe, none of us are safe. There is still much to do and we hope others will join us in helping to end the pandemic,” said Renée Cutting, UNICEF USA’s Chief Philanthropy Officer. 

UNICEF put out a call for private sector support at the end of April as India's deadly second wave of COVID-19 swelled dramatically. Companies from across sectors responded including Google, CognizantKimberly-Clark, Danaher, NCR Foundation and Target.

On May 2, 2021, a patient receives treatment in a banquet hall, temporarily converted into a COVID-19 emergency ward in New Delhi, India. © UNICEF/UN0456990/Singh

“I am hopeful that the situation will turn around for our country soon, but as we have learned over the course of this pandemic, hope is not enough," remarked Sanjay Gupta, Country Manager and Vice President, Google India. "At Google we’ll continue to work with local governments, partners and communities to give people the tools to stay healthy and safe."

Companies deployed their teams and expertise to support UNICEF's work in India

Companies have also mobilized their teams and expertise to aid health care workers and medical facilities as COVID-19 infections have spread across India. The UPS Foundation donated cargo space to UNICEF to mobilize emergency medical supplies including desperately needed oxygen concentrators to India, while companies like MicrosoftDiscovery and Johnson & Johnson launched employee match campaigns. 

Driven not only by hope for the future and incredible need but also by their employees, suppliers and partners, the support and commitment of these companies highlights the connectivity of global business today. 

At the Indira Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi on May 18, 2021, ground staff prepare to unload a cargo plane filled with COVID-19 medical supplies sent by UNICEF. © UNICEF/UN0464145/Singh

 "Our company strives to support our communities in all parts of the world, which is why we have chosen to support UNICEF’s mobilizations to increase access to oxygen on behalf of our family, friends and colleagues in India,” said David Patel, Vice President of Engineering at Clarios. “We value our trusted partnership with UNICEF in programs such as the Protecting Every Child’s Potential initiative because of UNICEF's track record and capacity to deliver urgent, lifesaving resources."

Support of this scale is crucial for India’s current crisis and beyond as the ripple effects of COVID-19 are about more than just meeting health care needs. Throughout the world, children have become the hidden victims of the pandemic — falling further into poverty, losing access to education, facing heightened risk of abuse or exploitation, and experiencing the terror of seeing caregivers fall ill or die.

The ripple effects of the COVID-19 pandemic are pushing children further into poverty and threatening their futures

In India last year, children and families saw the collapse of livelihoods as an estimated 122 million workers  — including three quarters of all workers in India's informal sector — lost their jobs during the first wave of COVID-19 and its associated lockdown measures, increasing poverty and malnutrition rates. In addition, 286 million children were left out of school in the first weeks of the pandemic and reports of violence against children rose by 50 percent. 

“For more than a decade, we have partnered with UNICEF to positively impact vulnerable children and families around the globe,” said Jenny Lewis, Vice President, Kimberly-Clark Foundation. “With our shared goal of improving the well-being of those in need, we are continuing to support UNICEF’s critical efforts in India to help save lives during this recent deadly and devastating wave of COVID-19 infections.”

In a suburb of Mumbai on May 8, 2021, UNICEF Maharashtra WASH Specialist Yusuf Kabir and Alert Citizen Forum activists register people to coordinate the delivery of COVID-19 vaccines in India. © UNICEF/UN0459695/Koyande

With funds committed, UNICEF USA was able to mobilize its innovative finance tool, The Bridge Fund, which speeds critical funding to local UNICEF offices within days. In 2020, the Bridge Fund accelerated the delivery of $21 million worth of personal protective equipment (PPE), medical supplies, diagnostic tests and other COVID-19 supplies to countries such as Afghanistan, Ghana, Niger, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Use of The Bridge Fund’s flexible capital ensures that UNICEF can procure the critical medical supplies needed to save lives in India. 

Timing is critical when responding to crises — immediate support from corporate partners helps UNICEF save lives 

“We know timing is critical when responding to crises — providing immediate support to UNICEF’s work in India allowed us to help deliver critical care to high-risk and vulnerable populations on the ground,” stated Kristen Titus, Executive Director of the Cognizant Foundation. “Defeating COVID requires expertise in navigating complex crises at a global level, and with more than 70 years of experience, we knew UNICEF's ability to convene partners with mutual objectives would be critical. It will take all of us working together to end the global pandemic, and I’m confident that we will persevere.”

COVID-19 vaccines are stored in ice-lined refrigerators supplied by UNICEF at MMG Hospital in Ghaziabad, Uttar Pradesh, India. © UNICEF/UN0465069/Vishwanathan

Meanwhile, COVID-19 continues to spread rapidly across South Asia, outstripping countries' abilities to provide lifesaving treatment. UNICEF has been on the ground throughout the region, working around the clock to deliver desperately needed supplies and assistance. 

UNICEF is working around the clock to stop the spread of the coronavirus in South Asia

UNICEF needs $164 million to procure oxygen and testing supplies, medical equipment, PPE and infection prevention and control materials to help save lives in South Asia. Harnessing the collective leadership resources, knowledge and reach of UNICEF and our private sector partners, we can make direct, tangible impacts in the fight against COVID-19. 

If your company is interested in partnering with UNICEF to rush critical lifesaving supplies, services and vaccines to protect public health workers and families in India and South Asia, contact UNICEF USA to join the campaign to end the pandemic

Top photo: On May 6, 2021, patients struggling for breath receive treatment in the ICU ward at Mulund Jumbo's COVID-19 center in Mumbai, India. © UNICEF/UN0459177/Koyande