The COVID-19 impact varies by type of business all around the globe, with these three are categories most affected: personal services, hospitality and retail. The smaller the company or business, the harder the hit, with companies with fewer than 20 workforces are the most affected.
Why? A small business with fewer than 20 employees usually lacks cash flow and the capital. And there target market is also in general is complete different to a bigger or a multinational company. Those companies were the first to reduce hours for employees or lay off employees. Those businesses were also the first to stop hiring subcontractors. And these are companies which were the core of our economy.
There’s no denying that businesses, especially small ones, have taken a financial hit in the past few months. But in the days after the initial economic downturn resulting from the COVID-19 outbreak and containment precautions, we were quickly reminded of the vital role these businesses play in our communities.
In Sri Lanka alone, there are more than 500,000 plus small businesses that employ millions of people. Small businesses are the engine of the economy and the livelihood of so many Sri Lankans both in the capital as well as all around the country. And in an instant, there was great uncertainty for many of those individuals.
As mentioned earlier, given that small businesses operate on modest budgets and economic disruptions can easily push operations over the cliff and into the ocean.
REPRESENTING GOVERNMENT AND CENTRAL BANK
The banking sector together with the central bank, are worked tirelessly with government officials and the President House to ensure that small businesses were represented and supported in every relief package that was passed by Cabinet. As each phase of relief was negotiated, their goal is to elevate the voice of the small businesses, expressing their needs and desires, and have taken many measures to ensure that the economy is brought back to life.
During the initial safeguards, like social distancing and crowd limitations, local communities came together in support of the most vulnerable. We were all reminded of the great importance of small businesses.
SUPPORTING SMALL BUSINESSES
Many Sri Lankans especially in the capital and in main cities supported their local restaurants by purchasing gift cards or ordering delivery. Through new innovative ways of delivering essentials to the door steps, a social media push that encouraged diners to support local businesses by ordering takeout, restaurants received a boost in sales.
Restaurants had to adapt quickly when limited to delivery and takeout services; many had to join third-party delivery apps like Pickme, EAT.lk and UberEats in order to survive. Even fine-dining restaurants resorted to delivery, adjusting their menus to provide food that could be transported. Other restaurants opened “markets” that provided customers with pantry staples that weren’t readily available at grocery stores, like dry goods, dairy products, and even toilet paper.
MADE IN SRI LANKA
Additionally, we were reminded of the importance of Sri Lankan-made products over foreign, mass-produced items. This crisis halted the availability of many necessities, but we saw Sri Lankan companies rise to the occasion. In the effort to fill product gaps, businesses around the country were adjusting to the needs of the market, specifically, the needs of health care workers.
In the past few months, there were many volunteers and big companies came alone to provide hospitals, law enforcement, and first responders with free hand sanitizer and other essentials. The major super market chains were opened during the lock down for health care workers and the low enforcement workforce, many small companies volunteered to manufacture masks for hospital workers. The country’s people all around, did the same.
Moreover, the media giants launched many different programs pledging to aid those who were in need during the crisis. The whole nation joint in on home gardening campaign and grown the produce that we utilizes by ourselves not only in villages also in the cities as well.
The list goes on.
These are just a few examples of the efforts communities have made to support peers, small businesses, hourly employees, first responders, and hospitals.
The COVID-19 crisis provided vast uncertainty for small business owners. But with swift action from politicians, support and sacrifice from communities, and the use of technology, many owners were able to gain traction and adjust to this new way of doing business.
Recovery from this recession for small businesses is crucial. As businesses and the economy rebuilds, politicians should continue to have government’s best interests in mind as they continue to draft legislation. Moving past this catastrophe will take time, but the Sri Lankan’s are resilient and unstoppable when smart policies support and allow them to be.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR
There are several focuses that should have the attention of lawmakers and voters alike. Freezing minimum-wage hikes is one example. Adding additional financial burden to the backs of small business owners will only make the fallout of the pandemic worse.
Instead, lawmakers should focus on ensuring small businesses are prepared to reopen and quickly get employees back to work. Early efforts passed by cabinet, such as the Post ponding bank loans Program, helped small businesses weather the initial stages of the crisis. But now we need to get them past the finish line.
The next few months will be a time of rebuilding for the economy and our communities. We must continue to encourage smart policies while continuing to support small businesses. After all, small business is too big to fail.The coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak is causing a global health emergency, and a global economic slowdown. Trade, investment, growth, and employment are all affected and the crisis will have an impact on the achievement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
Even though we are in post COVID 19 stage and the country has starting to restart and rebuild the treat of the virus is yet to be over, so it is very important that we do take precautions and adhere to the regulations given by the health ministry. Sri Lanka has gone through many crisis over the centuries and at all times we have rebuild with new energy and come out victories, for sure we will go through and rebuild nation once more…