Viewing Business Development Support differently in the ‘New Economy’

The negative impact of the COVID-19 global pandemic on small business is an unavoidable phenomenon of our time. In countries where national lockdowns are in place, the impact is more severe, even resulting in the closure of many businesses. Reports suggest that the USA, for example, has already lost one in four small businesses in a few short weeks.

A question to ponder is – what should the business support community’s role be in this historic moment? We should first note that the small business support community, is in fact, part of the body of small businesses affected. This is also a great opportunity for this critical layer of the small business ecosystem to be present in this historic moment. Business Support can respond similarly to the rest of society, to support small businesses and do whatever is possible to ‘flatten the curve’ of business closures and job losses in our economy. This equates to evolving and remaining relevant during the COVID-19 crisis and carving out a role for itself, in the post corona phase of our economy. This will include reviewing the structure and delivery models of business development support (BDS) interventions.

The national lockdowns have forced most actors within the economy, to digitise and work from home. While this would have practically closed thousands of small businesses, it has also shown new ways to reduce costs and increase efficiencies. I am certain that post-lock-down, the business support community will be testing and adjusting to tools and methods of reaching out and supporting small businesses in ways and at a scale not imagined before this era.

One of the critical questions that will need to be resolved is – how does the business community embed efficient and effective tools and methodologies for monitoring evaluation research and learning (MERL) efforts within their programmes? Fortunately, C4G is well-positioned to offer online, digital monitoring and evaluation services through our revamped Africa Small Business Support Analytics Platform (ASBAP). This platform enables our partners to stay true to their programmes’ monitoring and reporting mandates.

Sifiso Ndwandwe, ED

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