Rapid Research on Community Resilience & SMEs: Post-COVID-19 Sustainability

Knowledge Transfer and communication

Our interdisciplinary Rapid Research team has begun a  project to identify and characterize the contribution that innovative small- and medium-sized enterprises’ (SMEs) sustainable practices and business models make to community resilience in light of COVID-19.

The rapid assessment will generate evidence to create a series of research outputs and knowledge mobilization tools aimed at decision-makers and local actors to provide evidence for creating an ecosystem to support SMEs during and post-disaster recovery.

In discussion with Dr. Sarah Burch, Postdoctoral Fellows Jose DiBella (University of Waterloo), Jennifer Rao-Williams (Leuphana University) and Nigel Forrest (Arizona State University), with Ph.D. students Scott Morton Ninomiya (University of Waterloo) and Verena Hermenlingmeir (DRIFT Netherlands), and Masters of Geography student Kyra Chisholm (University of Waterloo) have undertaken a research project in response to the ongoing novel coronavirus COVID-19. 

What types of practices and business models of sustainable enterprises contribute to community resilience?  How?

The team has identified case studies of sustainable enterprise practices and models, and their contributions to community resilience. The review resulted in 30 selected cases across various industries, including enterprises in the creative industries, micro-manufacturing, food systems, energy, and retail. The first output is a policy brief aimed at policy audiences in Chambers of Commerce, Ministries that are funding recovery efforts for SMEs and practitioners working at the interface of research and action.

This research project aims to provide evidence supporting the efforts of local communities in “building back better” and advancing an inclusive and sustainable recovery after the ongoing impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.


For questions or comments regarding this project, please contact Dr. Jose Di Bella at


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