The COVID-19 pandemic is impacting all of us on many different levels at the same time; oneself, family, employees, customers, suppliers and business partners, our communities, societies and government systems. There is also a high level of uncertainty and unknowns, and certainly no playbook for what to do.

Yet of course we need to keep moving forward, as a team and in line with our mission, ensuring everyone’s safety as well as business continuity. It’s terrifying at times, but it can also be deeply gratifying when you feel that connectedness in the face of adversity, or when you find new perspectives or opportunities that help you make the next steps.

Common Purpose’s strong emphasis on self-awareness, openness and empathy, are key values and skills in a time like this. Leading with these values squarely at the centre is so important to keep looking at things afresh and with purpose.

Personally, this period is a lot about self-awareness and self-management. I’m focused on very conscious, authentic, value-driven decision-making, and clear and open communications around that. And I keep thinking of the adage: “A crisis does not build character, it reveals it.”

In some ways this pandemic is a great test of what as leaders we have built with our organizations and teams.

Doh Eain

In early 2017, I founded a social enterprise called Doh Eain (“Our Home”) in Yangon, Myanmar. Doh Eain is a participatory urban design practice aimed at making our cities more liveable, inclusive and sustainable. We work on a variety of heritage preservation and public space projects, and other activities that connect people to the places they live, work and relax in.

During the current pandemic, we are specifically focusing on inclusivity and protection of those that are more vulnerable in the city yet play an important in the city’s living heritage.

I Do Nation

Over 70,000 street vendors with over 300,000 dependent family members set up stalls every day on the streets of Yangon, trying to make a living.

Street vendors make food, goods and services available in the city at affordable rates, and bring life and colour to our streets. Not only does the risk of street vendors losing their business affect them and their dependants, it also impacts people of lower incomes’ access to affordable food and goods, and the city’s character.


While temporary suspension of street vending may be unavoidable during COVID-19, protecting those that are driving this valuable economic activity is urgently needed.

During the current pandemic, my organization is specifically focusing on inclusivity and protection of those that are more vulnerable in the city yet play an important in the city’s living heritage. Through the I Do Nation platform, we are undertaking public awareness and fundraising for groups like street vendors so that we can help them with direct cash transfers and PPE donations such as food, masks, gloves and hand sanitizers.

If you would like to support our campaign, you can donate through our Indiegogo campaign. All financial contributions will go directly to fund the cash transfers and construction of the hand sanitizer stations. We also accept in-kind donations for masks, gloves and hand sanitizer bottles if you’re in Yangon.

No leader in this time is going to know all the answers, and no one expects you to. This is a time to call on our teams and networks, hear their views and see their capabilities, and create roles for them in which they can contribute to overcoming the uncertainty. It is amazing and heart-warming to see people step up into new roles or ideas or solutions.