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Supporting SMEs beyond surviving a crisis to thriving businesses

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Many businesses across the world have been foisted with the burden of building resilience to withstand the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on their bottom line.

The concentration and conversation have understandably been about keeping businesses afloat and weathering the COVID-19 storm with the hope of making up for what has been lost when the dust settles.

This almost natural reaction to the current global crisis has inevitably put businesses, especially SMEs, in survival mode with a foresight that ends at the time COVID-19 ends.

Because no one can predict when exactly the pandemic will be over, it is imperative for businesses to think long term and move beyond the confines of survival to the space of thriving.
 
Re-imagining business models
Businesses have to begin re-imagining their business models and adapt to the prevailing situation with the long-term view of thriving even with the pandemic still in existence.

When conversations about business growth are had, what ordinarily occupies people’s direction of thinking is money and financial support. However, business growth is not only about financial support, but also taking strategic decisions, forging the right partnerships, learning from situations and how nimble and fast MSMEs change and adapt to suit new consumer behaviour and choices.

Adoption of digitisation
COVID-19 has accelerated the adoption of digitisation and automation, as well as multiple sources of searching and has shown us the best bargain.

Within the context of the prevailing circumstances, certain structures would have to be put in place to further facilitate the growth of SMEs. There currently exist varied avenues where businesses can take advantage of and thrive even in very difficult circumstances such as COVID-19 pandemic.

Due to the restriction of movements, forward-thinking institutions have created online marketplace portals where businesses can source for materials and assistance from well-informed trade agents across the world.

It is a misnomer, within the current context, to rely on single sources of supply in the midst of a wide and diversified range of suppliers across the world.
 
Online payment a necessity
Also, creating a website is no longer a luxury for businesses. Branding, along with online payment and collection of goods, will now be a necessity for businesses if they want to experience visibility and continuity.

The transformed consumer will now opt for online shopping and delivery services as opposed to the traditional and physical walk-ins. It will, thus, be the duty of the MSMEs to ensure that they are properly prepared for these changes. Additionally, employing Intelligence Automation (IA) and Robotic Process Automation (RPA) would better improve long-term and recurring costs.

As part of the reliefs planned for the sector, it will help if government/investors/banks institutionalise digitisation in micro and small businesses, introduce and digitise marketplaces to create our own Alibaba and Amazon. The growth of an SME post-COVID-19 is reliant on change in trade behaviour, change in delivery model, change in global sourcing and change in their unstructured nature. The consumer is now constantly processing what is and what is not essential at any point in time. The SME that is able to identify and understand the dynamics of this paradigm is the one that would survive and thrive.  

Staying ahead of competition
Exposing yourself to learning opportunities and learning new ways of growing your business is one sure way of staying ahead of competition and thriving where others are struggling to survive.

It is for this reason that many market experts are putting together webinar series targeted specifically at the SME sector in a bid to ensure their survival. There exist ample evidence that the SME sector has been the hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic and the onus lies on all of us to ensure their survival and in fact their growth.

Webinars such as those organised by Stanbic Bank have the potential of not only ensuring that Ghana’s SME sector sails through this storm but also positions itself strategically to ensure business growth.

A crisis is said to reveal the foresight and depth of the thinking of society and if SMEs must grow in a difficult situation, then opportunities such as these must be given priority.

The underlying principle for the growth of SMEs is for there to be holistic transformation to match the corresponding change in our socio-economic and environmental situations.

It is highly recommended that SMEs take advantage of training opportunities, especially in these times to enable them not only to survive this pandemic but also to become thriving businesses regardless.

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