The government is usually the default line of defense whenever issues spring up in most countries. We always ask the question: “What is the government doing to help?” And this is valid because people always rely on the insight and foresight of the elected individuals to provide leadership and direction in uncertain times.
While the government is already taking definitive measures to protect the people against troubled times such as this, I believe there are roles individuals in the private sector can take on too. I recently saw an interview by CNN Africa’s Stephanie Busari with Herbert Wigwe, the CEO of Access Bank, discussing the contribution of the private sector in helping the Nigerian government in the fight against the deadly pandemic, COVID-19. More specifically, the roles CACOVID (Coalition against COVID-19), a movement formed by the major stakeholders of the Nigerian private sector, of which Herbert Owigwe is member, was playing in this fight.
The questions ranged from how much funds had been raised, where they were being kept, how they were going to be spent to ensure transparency and how to ensure the palliatives provided by the organization will get to the poor masses, nationwide.
I got a lot of insight from that interview. In summary, Herbert Wigwe sheds more light on the activities of the CACOVID. He explained the vision of the organization as a two-step intervention scheme. First, is the creation of more isolation centers across the states and the importation of necessary medical equipment, and second, the provision of food for Nigerians at the bottom of the pyramid, which accounts for about 10million people in Nigeria – which is about 1.7million families.
In his words:
“We need to make sure that these people are fed and the social fabric of the society is not destroyed in the course of this pandemic.”
He also shared that Access bank, through the support of the CBN, will make provision for relief funds for SMEs and entrepreneurs to revive businesses, post COVID-19, noting that they are the bane of the economy.
Speaking on the resulting impact on the private sector post-COVID-19, he explained that the world has never experienced crashing oil prices and a deadly global pandemic at the same time and so there were bound to be ripple effects on the business world globally. Some businesses wouldn’t survive, some companies might have to downsize to be able to function, but that, like every other negative circumstance, there would also be many opportunities to leverage on at the end of the Pandemic.
It got me thinking: What does this mean for entrepreneurs and creatives? Freelancers have lost critical projects because most clients have shut down operations. Companies are more focused now on conserving cash and reducing non-essential expenses while planning for an uncertain post-COVID-19 world.
Borrowing a leaf from CACOVID, I think SMEs and entrepreneurs will benefit now more than ever from collaborations. A lot of businesses may not survive post-COVID-19, so mergers and collaborations would be immensely beneficial. For instance, if you are a freelance videographer, it’s a good time to propose partnerships with photographers and social media managers in a way that when the need for videography arises, they can pass the job to you and vice versa. Start building a network of people that will need your services and vice versa. Post-COVID-19 is going to be survival of the fittest because there will be very little money in circulation, partnerships and collaborations will help ensure you stay afloat.
Also, an upgrade in your skillset is vital. A lot of people have lost their jobs in a little less than a month. Here are some skills that will be in high demand post-COVID 19:
- Strategy consultants to help companies revise plans and marketing opportunities.
- New world digital skills to help organizations reach customers and ensure business continuity.
- Finance experts to help plan cash flows and curb non-essential expenses.
- Freelance skills such as cinematography, storytelling, writing, photography, social media management, and digital marketing.
This is also an important time for creatives and entrepreneurs to assess their strengths, sharpen skill sets, and think about new digital products and services to offer.