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Covid-19 Pandemic: Top Business Gainers and Losers

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CoronaVirus Header- Image credit: furma.edu

In early 2015, one of the most adorable personalities in the world, Bill Gates held a session on TED about “The Next Outbreak? We’re not ready”. This was immediately after the world survived the outbreak of Ebola. He explained how we reacted to the epidemic with detailed statistics but also stated that despite our efforts the world was far from being ready for another epidemic or a pandemic!

Fast forward to the year 2020: COVID-19 has become a flame without a fire that has engulfed the entire world and brought us all to a standstill, with “compulsory holidays” being declared in most countries and no logical end in sight to the pandemic! If Bill Gates were a religious leader, the entire world would have become his congregation by now and of course, with plenty prophet offerings!

According to Wikipedia, coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is an infectious disease caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). The disease was first identified in December 2019 in Wuhan, the capital of China’s Hubei province, and has since spread globally with common symptoms including fever, cough and shortness of breath. Other symptoms may include fatigue, muscle pain, diarrhea, sore throat, loss of smell and abdominal pain. The time from exposure to the manifestation of symptoms is typically around five days, but may range from two to fourteen days. As of 10 April 2020, more than 1.6 million cases had been reported in more than 200 countries and territories, resulting in more than 100,000 deaths!

The virus is mainly spread between people during close contact, often via small droplets produced during coughing, sneezing, or talking. While these droplets are produced when breathing out, they usually fall to the ground or surfaces rather than being infectious over large distances. People may also become infected by touching a contaminated surface and then their face. The virus can survive on surfaces for up to 72 hours. Coronavirus is most contagious during the first three days after onset of symptoms, although spread may be possible before symptoms appear and in later stages of the disease.

The Effect of COVID-19 Pandemic on Business Environment

The emergence of the mighty COVID-19 has definitely altered lifestyle on a global scale. The business environment has now become more challenged especially as no one knows how long the pandemic would last. But even in the current challenging reality, further opportunities have been created for some industries that now are enjoying tremendous cashflow despite the suffering of the world.

Imagine what the current situation would have been without access to information communication technology. Imagine what it would have been without online platforms for e-commerce, trainings and financial services.

Definitely, the financial industry has helped tremendously to stabilise the economy from collapsing through their various payment channels such as Internet Banking, Point of Sales (PoS) Terminals, Automatic Teller Machine (ATM), Mobile Banking Application and USSD. This management of the demand and supply flow is steadying various economies of the world and preventing another global economic recession.

In complementing the efforts of the financial industry, fintech companies are deploying innovative solutions for greater convenience in the performance of electronic payment transactions. Of late, one of such innovation is Paylink, a payment solution for anyone to receive money INSTANTLY into their bank account from anyone, anywhere, anytime! This particular payment solution has become the delight of SMEs, crowd funder, social entrepreneurs, religious organisations, individuals and others at this time of restricted movements and social distancing.

Also Read: Dr. Quist-Aphetsi Kester, A Global Scientist Leading The Fight Against COVID-19 Through Coding

The Biggest Business Losers

For industries that the pandemic negatively affected, the list is almost unending. But to kick-start discussions, here are the possible top losers:

  1. Aviation

This industry is one of the most capital intensive in the world and its operational cost is not a joke! The nature of the business involves continuous maintenance, high taxation, increasing operational and administrative costs which are the reason most airline operators utilise debt financing or are currently in huge debt with only bailout or liquidation as options.The outbreak of COVID-19 has complicated the struggling cashflow (revenue) of the airlines with several operators finding it difficult to survive!

  • Small & Medium Enterprises

SMEs have been the backbone of many economies as their activities have created employment opportunities and facilitated daily livelihood of many. However, with the lockdown, most SMEs have struggled to adjust as closure of business premises and markets has reduced patronage and sales. Although once business operations resume, it might be a slow start for them, but their recovery will definitely be short term.

  • Religious Organisations

Their major sources of income are donations and contributions of members and followers in terms of voluntary and mandatory giving through their various beliefs and principles. Many of such leaders have become richer than organisations in the real business world!

Definitely, they were shocked that such an outbreak could turn their worship centres into ghost sites with many of them now embracing and adopting technology to reach to their members. As their members are also affected financially, the impact would reach the religious organisation. However, their recovery could be medium term as they would need time to convince their members to continue in belief and obedience of the doctrinal principles of giving!

  • Entertainment

They were one of major cashcows before the COVID-19 with several shows, albums and events for brand visibility and definitely more money. The industry has produced more celebrities and overnight millionaires with little or no knowledge of wealth or fame management!

The belief is that all you need is just to have a talent and the world would be at your feet.But the reality is that the industry is a Red Ocean with several people struggling for the same audience.  At the moment, it is even difficult because the lockdown and social distancing measures have put shows and events on hold.

Regardless, the industry would still continue to survive through innovation that can create a new path to Blue Ocean within the medium term but definitely not in the short term!

  • Transportation & their Unions

It was necessary to specifically separate this from Aviation Industry and combine it with unions especially if you are from this part of the world where National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) is a major stakeholder in the affairs of the state. Outsiders think its members are illiterates but majority of its leaders have their family abroad and their children schooling overseas. Yet, we think they are not that smart but they milk money through extortion and harassment of motorists.

However, since governments across several states have ordered a lockdown to limit the spread of the pandemic, it has been very challenging for the transport operators and their unruly unions to eke a living. But once this period phases out, their business would resume as usual and their recovery will definitely be a short term!

Top Business Gainers and Next Emerging Opportunities!

While some will definitely find it hard to recover immediately after normalcy returns, a few will reach huge opportunities as the “Next Cashcow Industries” They include:

  1. Food & Beverages

The demand in consumption will increasing as people would put survival as a priority – and access to market will increase demand for food items.

  • Communication

There will be a change in culture and attitude in some areas such as work pattern, education, commerce and access to information, with more preference for online channels which in return would increase demand for data.

  • Lending

With many current loans going bad due to collapsed businesses and loss of jobs, the lending business would be receive huge patronage by people looking to start all over again.

  • Logistics and Distribution

Commerce and demand for commodities across locations as a result of the impact of current situation and fear of the unknown would create an increasing need for logistics and distribution of commodities.

  • Lottery

People will be desperate for quicker ways of making money and lottery would give hope even when such people might end worse off.

So, while we can’t change the reality of the challenges that would arise from the COVID-19 pandemic, we can at least apply wisdom to prepare towards joining the “Cashcows” when the season changes for good!

The next season is just around the corner! Are you Ready?

Article by:

Oluwaseun Adesanya: An international consultant with great wealth of experience across several countries with special interest in fintech, financial inclusion, insurance, innovation, financial services, strategy, social impact, business transformation and technology. He is currently, the Group Head, Strategy & Innovation of SystemSpecs, leading financial technology and human capital management firm.

Visit: SystemSpecs

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aYo Holdings, African micro-insurer breaks 10 million mark; eyes further growth

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aYo Holdings CEO Marius Botha (Source: aYo)

African micro-insurance fintech aYo Holdings, a joint venture between telecommunications giant MTN and financial services group Momentum Metropolitan Holdings (MMH), has broken through the 10 million customer mark in under four years after starting operations – and new CEO Marius Botha says the milestone is set to trigger a period of further growth.

aYo launched in Uganda in January 2017, and has since started operations in Ghana and Zambia with plans to expand into Côte d’Ivoire and Nigeria in the new year. aYo provides fast, convenient, easy to use hospital and life cover directly to a user’s mobile phone, and has already paid in excess of $1 million in claims.

This rapid expansion has seen the company evolve into a major player in the African micro-insurance market, effectively by adopting a ‘pay as you go’ insurance model, where its policyholders have the flexibility that allows them to have the cover they need at any given time.

Botha says while there has always been a ‘definite demand’ from African consumers, the challenge was being able to find the right technology and mechanism to deliver what is essentially a high-volume, low-margin product, where not all clients are paying or active at any given time, but buy cover as and when they need it.

“The partnership with MTN has really been the key that unlocked the ability to deliver this product. As a result, millions of Africans have access to and are engaging with life insurance for the first time – and we cannot underestimate what this means to them in terms of driving financial inclusion,” said Botha.

While mobile networks provide the ideal delivery mechanism for the spread of micro-insurance across the continent, Botha says the company’s growth has also depended on understanding the nuances of each market, and creating products that cater for the specific needs of the target market.

“The big thing about micro-insurance is that it protects those who need it the most. People with low income need insurance even more than those with higher incomes, because they are more vulnerable and have a smaller cushion of resources to draw upon in times of need,” said Botha.

Many clients use the payouts from their aYo policies to not only pay for their hospital bills, but use the balance to buy food or schoolbooks, so they can send their children back to school. One client’s glasses were damaged in an accident, leaving him incapacitated and unable to work, as he is legally blind. His cover paid his hospital bill and allowed him to buy new glasses, which allowed him to continue providing for his family.

“There’s no doubt that the impact of micro-insurance is transformative, as it shields millions of Africans from the economic shocks that would otherwise keep them locked into an endless cycle of poverty,” said Botha.

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Thabo Mashegoane Appointed As Chairman of the Africa ICT Alliance (AfICTA)

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Thabo Mashegoane

The President and Board Chairperson of the Institute of Information Technology Professionals South Africa (IITPSA), Thabo Mashegoane, has been elected as Chairman of the Africa ICT Alliance (AfICTA).

Formerly the Vice-Chairman of AfICTA, he succeeds Engr. Hossam Elgamal from Egypt to become the third Chairman. AfICTA, a private sector-led alliance of ICT Associations, multinational corporations, companies, organisations and individuals in the ICT sector in Africa, aims to fulfil the promise of the digital age for everyone in Africa by encouraging dialogue and fostering ICT enabled development.

During an electronic election at the AfICTA Annual General Meeting on 25 November, Mashegoane was elected chair, while IITPSA Past President and Non-Executive Director Ulandi Exner was also elected AfICTA Vice-Chair for Southern Africa.

The election named the following board members and officers: Paul Rowney, Deputy Chair; Opeyemi Onifade, Treasurer; Dr. Waudo Siganga, Vice-Chair for East Africa; Engr. Assem Wahby, Vice-Chair, North Africa; Adetola Sogbesan, Vice-Chair, West Africa; and Eric Sindeu, Vice-Chair, Central Africa.  

Thanking his predecessors for their service and leadership in the Alliance to date, Mashegoane noted that AfICTA was an organisation with a vast network, impact on critical policies, and reputation that took years and hard work to build. “Mine is to take the baton and continue where the honourable Engr. Hossam Elgamal has taken this organisation to. Of importance is the platform to enable African countries to collaborate and share best practices and lessons learnt with an objective of not leaving anyone behind in development. This is a vision we will continue to uphold. We stand in a critical position to influence attainment of Sustainable Development Goals 2030 through ICT.”

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Speaking after the election, Mashegoane said digital inclusion and ICT-enabled development was also a key mission for the IITPSA in South Africa.  “The IITPSA shares the vision and ethos of AfICTA. IITPSA has also stated that we need to step up efforts to achieve the goals of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which, among other things, seeks to bridge the digital divide and harness technology to address major global challenges such as poverty, climate change and conflict, we need to work harder. At IITPSA, we believe this means we have to collaborate across industries, across countries, to deploy the benefits of ICTs for the good of all,” he said.

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Baller Syndicate: Building Europe’s First Elite Athlete Angel Syndicate And Exploring Africa

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Baller Syndate Founders – Koen Bosma (r) and Jason Esseboom (l) (Source: Baller Syndicate)

Baller Syndicate is an exclusive network of elite athletes that are looking to get into tech investing. An initiative by Koen Bosma and Jason Esseboom, two former athletes who were better at startups than playing football. They played together in a youth academy, and Koen even turned pro. The founders crossed paths again in the world of startups and innovation. Koen and Jason share a passion for sports, entrepreneurship, and investments. In this interview with Alaba Ayinuola of Business Africa Online, they talked about how they are positioning elite athletes to become successful tech investors, through their educational like-minded community and building bridges between Europe and Africa.

Over the past few years, they have worked with hundreds of startups and invested in 20+. Most of those startups are trying to break into the sports-, health-, and entertainment industry. During this time, Koen and Jason had the privilege of working closely with founders, which gave them great insights and a first-row seat to startups’ biggest pain point.

Startups in the sports-, health, and entertainment industries have a disproportionate mismatch with angels that can truly accelerate their journey, compared to startups in other industries.

When Koen and Jason looked closely, they spotted a trend in the USA of elite athletes making tech investments cool and accessible to the world. Athletes like Lebron James, Kevin Durant, and Serena Williams are building their own family offices, venture funds, becoming LP’s or making direct or syndicated angel investments. So they asked themselves the question: why is this not happening in the rest of the world?

This led to starting Baller Syndicate.

Alaba: So what does Baller Syndicate do?

Koen: Our vision is to unlock athletes’ capabilities as accelerators for the growth of startups. When we started having conversations with active-, and retired athletes about their post-career activities, we truly learned a lot. Simply mentioning the term “investment” to an athlete in Europe turns all signals to red and makes their alarm bells go off! We could hear them thinking: “are these guys trying to take my money!?.

The interesting thing, however, was that when we took the conversations a layer deeper, we learned athletes get approached for investment opportunities quite regularly, but always ‘through a guy.’ When athletes don’t fully understand the concept, the default is to rely on someone they trust.”

We learned that athletes “solve” their lack of knowledge about investment opportunities by putting their trust in a person they know well.

Baller Syndicate’s goal is to decrease the knowledge gap by educating athletes with understandable content. Education is liberation, and that’s how they will help athletes change the narrative!

Alaba: Tell me, how does your education work with the tight schedules athletes have?

Jason: Overall, our education consists of two parts. We noticed that there is so much good content out there, but navigating it can be challenging or even overwhelming. Our vision towards education is to aggregate the most relevant content and translate it into a language athletes understand. We don’t see ourselves as professors but as translators.

Our first approach is to make an online course with actionable and engaging videos. This is the theoretical part. For the second part, we interview athletes that are active as investors or entrepreneurs to provide valuable case studies. Providing the theory is necessary because if we’d just share case studies, athletes miss foundational knowledge. To make learning fun and engaging, we chose to explain investments through sports analogies, using stories all athletes can relate to. Everything we offer is online, so the athletes determine when and where they want to learn.

Of course, we dream of a big live event where we connect the worlds of startups and athlete investors, but that’s not happening in a world governed by a pandemic.

In our way of working, we are lean startup evangelists at our core. This means we start with something, test it, and adjust based on the feedback. We test our educational program with a small group of selected athletes and truly learn if our translations resonate with them. After testing, we know where we need to improve to move forward and help more athletes.

Regarding the content of our education, we have three principles:

  1. We skip jargon or break it down
  2. We logically structure content, tested by elite athletes
  3. We facilitate group learning through our community

We believe this structure puts athletes at an advantage to learn how they can make independent investment decisions.”

Alaba: How do you make money?

Koen: Right now, we don’t… We invest our time and money to make Baller Syndicate into something valuable for athletes and startups. The sportstech ecosystem really needs to grow, and we believe we need to give first and hopefully get something in return later. Baller Syndicate is our way of building the sportstech ecosystem. Our educational platform will run as a foundation, where athletes pay a small fee as a yearly contribution. Secondly, we are attracting corporate sponsors that have a similar vision as ours, to pitch in a bit.

Baller Syndicate operates as a typical angel syndicate for athletes who have learned they wish to go into tech investments. In a syndicate, athletes pool money and invest together in startups they select themselves. We facilitate athletes by finding the right startups and guiding athletes throughout investing in those startups.

Our business model is based on carried interest, which means we only make a buck when their athletes make profits. But we have some strict “rules” for our members to start with tech investments.

If the athletes don’t know how to activate an investment, there is just waste. So before any tech investment through the Baller Syndicate platform, we ask these five questions below:

  1. Does the startup have something special that fits the profile of our members?
  2. Can we add value beyond money (and the obvious Twitter post)?
  3. Are multiple athletes on board?
  4. Do the interested athletes know they need to create a balanced portfolio of startups and not ‘bet’ on 1 or 2?
  5. Is there a lead investor (in case of large investment rounds)?

There are many other factors to consider, but we ask these vital questions to help elite athletes de-risk their startup investments. Our goal for 2020 is simple: to build our educational content and test it with a selected group of 10 athletes. We are currently primarily working with footballers, but there are also professional golf- and tennis players.

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Jason: Building this syndicate is as tough as it gets, but we are up for the challenge. We are motivated to the core to realize our big vision: unlocking athlete potential as accelerators for startups’ growth. We have started exploring athlete investing in Europe, and now we are eager to learn how athletes in other continents are approaching their new career after sports.

Through Baller Syndicate, we are building a diverse community of like-minded athletes. In our community, athletes are diverse in their sport, country, or background. They are alike when it comes to their ambition, mentality, and work ethic. Hopefully, this interview will open the doors for us to get in touch with African athletes and build bridges between Europe and Africa.

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