The DCA Group hosted an engaging and insightful Executive Roundtable conversation, with Top Industry and Business Leaders and Representatives of SMEs operating in African countries, as businesses and individuals globally seek solutions for the COVID 19 crisis to innovative ways to achieve their goals.
The panel of distinguished speakers exchanged expert insights, practical approaches and good practices on the topic: The real effects on the ground for SME’s; the plans that are being implemented to curb further negative effects on the market; future strategies that organizations can rely on to remain resilient and afloat; opportunities, and methods of enabling new growth and the Predictions of the paradigm shifts for SME financing.
Ms. Sophia Bekele, Founder & CEO – DCA Group/CBS International while chairing the forum acknowledged that since the crisis began, the world has been presented with a moment for a great rethink at all levels as we now face many overlapping issues. She also appraised the forum of the statistics that Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) create about 80% of Africa’s employment, thus establishing a new middle class and fueling demand for new goods and services.
Mr. Michael Monari, the Founder & CEO – Longitude Finance, Kenya while discussing the issues emphasized that businesses need to diversify and change the models as well as find other channels to improve the chances of survival post-crisis.
Mr. John Ngumi, the Executive Director at Eagle Africa Capital Partners Limited who is also current Chairman of Kenya Pipeline Company Ltd, and Wananchi Group and a Director at the Kenya Private Sector Alliance indicated that due to the work from home practice enforced by the government’s COVID 19 mitigation procedures, there has been an increased use of the internet and as such the company has been triggered to enhance the staffing and broadband capacity to manage the new clients that come from the education, religious and other work channels.
On her part, Ms. Pamela M. Njuguna, Head of Business & Marketing – Credit Bank, also named ‘Girl Boss’ by BusinessToday Kenya recently, emphasized the importance of moving to the low-touch economy that allows for business continuity despite the social distancing procedures. Pamela mentioned that her organization is passionate about women-led businesses and that their organization is in the process of initiating facilities to offload financing to such businesses in the coming few months.
Mr. John Kuria Kariuki, Founder & Group CEO – FinCredit Limited, Kenya and a Board member the Association of Microfinance Institutions of Kenya (AMFI), urged that this is a moment to upscale, diversify, and improve technologies and infrastructure that supports online business, eCommerce by leveraging new technologies and operations, as COVID 19 Crisis has forced a rethink of our general work environments. He was seconded by Mr. Erick Yong, Co-founder & CEO – GreenTec Capital Partners, Cameroon/Germany who added that the crisis presents the best moment for SME’s to investigate what kind of innovations are close to their work so that these businesses could leverage on the skills from the young people in Africa who already have acquired this knowledge.
The forum ended in the concluding words of Mr. Ngumi, who said “WE WILL SURVIVE”.
The COVID 19 pandemic has had and is predicted to have a strong effect on labour markets worldwide and in particular, Africa, where more than 70% of the workforce is in self-employment or works in micro, and small enterprises. This will also disrupt many existing value chains that most likely would, in turn, lead to loss of income and sharp increases in unemployment.
In addition, most of the SMALL MEDIUM ENTERPRISES (SMEs) especially in the developing countries are often run by women, operate in saturated sectors in the informal economy and most lack social protection. SMEs will, therefore, be the first to suffer devastating consequences of the economic downturn. Re-starting the economy and creating jobs will be key once the immediate health crisis is over.
Watch the Web Forum below:
This is the 3rd Crisis Management Conversation Series of the DCA WebForum titled “The Impact of COVID-19 on SME Financing in Africa”.