Could it be that small business can rise from the COVID-19 ashes?

It is well established that we are living in unprecedented times. The human being is being tested on all possible levels and so too, by default, every small business out there. This is a time for much resilience and tenacity. The old adage “survival of the fittest” rings in our ears, as we all seek to reposition ourselves for survival and, if we dare, success!

While a Stats SA business impact survey indicated that 42.2% of the countries’ businesses reported that had already run out of financial resources to see them through the extended lockdown period, there  have also been many gallant efforts made, by various stakeholders to support the strengthening of small businesses. One such is the Chivas Regal’s ‘Business Unusual’ project live series – “a digitally led campaign designed to offer much-needed support for small business owners and entrepreneurs over this difficult time”. The series brings industry leaders to the screen, to inspire SMMEs with their stories and experiences of saving their own dying businesses and indeed, “rising from the ashes”.

Another stroke of positive perspective in Africa, relates to AFCFTA, who have a very positive outlook on the hopes for the African private sector, through an integrated approach to business. This very interesting model demands a change in mindset, primarily in terms of seeing the private sector as the driver of Africa’s development and pooling business efforts to enable access to large sums of investor funds (in the trillions of dollars).  I have seen this kind of “swimming upstream” language, popping up in recent conversations on South African platforms too, even suggesting that small business could very well become the life blood of the South African economy, if it is properly supported.

While we are on the matter of relevant support, we are not “going back to normal” anytime soon and it is becoming clearer that business development support practitioners, who desire to influence, this upward swim, need to look very closely at issues such as:

  • How to frame programmes and their measurement under the new social circumstances
  • How to take full advantage of the digital space when it comes to programme delivery – this, by default, includes the strengthening of the digital savvy of those who are responsible for programme delivery
  • Mitigating the risk associated with losing programme participants who have been hard hit by the pandemic, or who may be otherwise unable to engage efficiently online and may have been benefitting more from direct, on-site engagement

C4G’s White Paper Launch webinar on the 18th June, seeks to delve deeper into these issues, by analysing the impact that the global pandemic has had on the economies, as well as, encouraging a joint effort in the review of programme design and implementation strategies in the new economic environment. Be sure to sign up!

Nomsa Langa
C4G

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