SME’s, the Kenyan economy and Covid-19
Looking back 10 years someone would have a hard time trying to convince you that you would have to switch to virtual learning, mobile banking, wearing of masks and social distancing to curb the spread of a virus. The Covid-19 pandemic has set a change in the way we work, learn, and even relate with one another. It has rummaged through every part of our lives and brought adverse effects. The pandemic is not only a health crisis but also is turning into an economic one. The economy has been hit hardest with the virus forcing thousands of people across the world to lose their jobs with others being forced to work from home. The situation is no different here in Kenya. The imposed curfews, strategic lockdowns, and closure of educational institutions across the country as a measure to curb the spread of the virus, have delivered a blow to the economy.
The Strathmore Business Club hosted a panel for a discussion on small and medium-sized enterprises and the impact of the pandemic with insights on adaptations and forecast into possible opportunities post Covid-19. The session which was held on Zoom on 22nd May saw more than a hundred participants join the discussion. The session was moderated by Dr. Vincent Ogutu, Vice-Chancellor Designate, Strathmore University with a panel of economic experts including Pius Muchiri, Managing Director, Nabo Capital Limited; Sunny Vikram, Director, Tax Line of Service PwC; and John Karani, Council Chair, Kenya Institute of Supplies Management.
The panel discussed the current economy and agreed that the global threat has disrupted demand for goods and services. With most people across the country budgeting for essential goods and services some businesses are not getting the normal demand for their products forcing them to start taking cutbacks such as laying off of personnel. The economy is shrinking around the world with oil prices reaching negative due to excess supply but low demand. There are only a few sectors in the economy that are not feeling the blow as hard as the rest. One such sector is the Telcom sector which has proved to be resilient; with people stuck in their homes, the need to stay connected to education, work, and news has many people turn to internet service providers for internet connection.
The panel touched on what we should learn and prepare for, post coronavirus. A certain mindset in business is needed, especially in dealing with risks, from understanding how to maneuver your business during uncertain times to be able to find opportunities and turning them to businesses. Engagements have changed to virtual meetings on platforms such as Zoom, Skype, and Amazon chime. This has led to a reduction of time used in crisscrossing the city to attend a meeting and more work being done in some businesses. Twitter, the social media company, was one of the first companies to inform its staff that they can work from home for as long as they see fit after the company reported smooth running of its systems with the majority of its employees working from home.
The automation era is something that businesses should look to in the future, providing minimal human assistance in different work processes. This may lead to the reduction of human jobs in the workplace but the panel discussed a few pointers on how to be able to survive this. Invest in yourself and keep yourself separate from your job; you are not your job, you don’t die when the job dies. Be completely indispensable, work hard, and master your craft in a manner that will hurt the company to let go of you. Learn how to embrace change, history has shown resisting new technology doesn’t often work out. Why not embrace the change?
Don’t waste a crisis
Protectionism; these are policies the government of a country uses to boost the domestic production of goods and services. Countries may opt to promote protectionism rather than globalization in the case another similar risk occurs. Countries will be looking to be able to survive on their own.
The jobs and businesses in the future are going to be very different. A few years ago, we didn’t have certain types of businesses that are thriving right now like Uber, Airbnb, and Amazon. You need to understand the environment we live in and invest in different opportunities. Never let a crisis go to waste and always be prepared.
This article was written by Tuzo Jonathan, Bachelor of Arts in Communications.
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