How Small African Businesses Can Survive COVID19 Pandemic

The novel virus called “COVID19” has hit businesses all over the world hard, and African small businesses have been severely hit harder with many of them drying up, and their cash flows disrupted by social distancing and imposed nationwide lockdown.

According to the World Bank, Sub-Saharan Africa will see its economy contract this year due to the COVID19 global crisis – the first in 25 years, while the UN estimates that nearly 30 million more people could fall into poverty and the number of acutely food-insecure people could significantly increase.

Despite these challenges, a few small businesses are still spinning their financial wheels, and several African countries have begun introducing a rapidly expanding array of measures designed to provide support for these business owners. However, if you are on the front lines of the impact, here are steps African entrepreneurs and small businesses can adopt to alleviate risks and to survive the economic crisis caused by the impact of COVID19.

Take immediate action on your reserves

During this pandemic, it is of utmost importance for business owners to conduct a proper assessment of their cash flow and reserves and how they can be used. This assessment will give a clear picture of where the business stands financially and help the entrepreneurs in planning ahead in the current disconcerted market. If after your assessment you notice your cash flow can’t support your business’s needs during this economic downturn, then it is imperative to cut costs that do not impact your infrastructure.

Make Employees, and Customers your Priority

The health and safety of employees should be a top concern for all business owners. The need to have an honest conversation with your employees about what you are hoping to do to keep them on the payroll—and what you may be forced to do can greatly impact the morale of your staff.

You should also stay transparent with your consumers about what your business is going through. Customers can empathize with businesses during this crisis, as long as the communication is transparent.

Focus on growth and innovation

Strategising a plan to sustain your business is another top priority for business owners during the ongoing COVID19 pandemic. Already, several startups across Africa are pivoting from their old business models to providing products and services that are essential to their communities during this lockdown.

For example, East Africa’s Sokowatch launched a bold initiative to ensure essential food and goods are available to the most economically affected – households and local shops in urban slums.

Nigeria’s Plentywaka announced the launch of the Plentywaka Staff Bus Solutions – an exclusive service for corporate companies to minimize employees’ risk of exposure to COVID-19 by providing a safer and more convenient means of travel to and from work, post-lockdown.

While South Africa’s Mukuru launches Groceries service to support Zimbabwean families during the crisis.

ALSO READ: Business Elites Africa Issues 40 Under-40 African Business Icons for 2020

Embrace online solutions now. 

The best time to adopt digital technology for your business is now. Everyone is staying at home, and they’re active online more than often. And this means your business can:

  • Grow its social media presence.
  • Reach an even bigger market you may have missed previously
  • Generate higher amounts of online traffic and engagement.

But it doesn’t stop there. The situation has opened up ways to explore remote working, systems to automate workflow and meetings that can be done over Zoom.

Explore Any Available Financial Program

Governments all over the world are putting into place financial assistance plans for small businesses and Africa is no different. Find out if you are eligible for any such assistance whether it is any financial assistance or easier terms in terms of business loans. Tap into all the help at hand to stay afloat.

Keep Coping—And Be Prepared

Once again, there is an opportunity in every crisis; however, small businesses sometimes need to strategically pivot their business models to discover and meet evolving consumer needs.

First, revisit your financials. Manage your employees. Innovate. Be present online. And Explore available financial programs.  May your business thrive during COVID-19 and beyond.

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