I don’t have to tell you what the current effects of the Covid-19 health crisis are on our lives and livelihoods today. It’s global, it’s everywhere and we are all going through it at the same time. Turn on the news or browse through your favourite digital platforms and you will be confronted with the reality of things. That, and the fact that most of us are on lockdown at home. Life as we know it, has been disrupted in so many ways.
And while some of the changes in our daily routines are going to be temporary, I believe (and many experts with me) that there will be quite a number of things in our professional and personal environments that are going to change significantly – and for good.
One of the things that we can all agree on, and have witnessed across the globe is how important digital solutions and the internet has become in our society and in our economies. And while access to the internet and these digital solutions is still not readily available to about 4 billion (!) people, many of these tools have enable companies to leverage the power of the internet to reach and impact the lives of people that don’t have.
With people losing jobs, access to resources, limited access to non-covid-19 related healthcare. People losing loved ones – there is a lot going on that we have limited control over right now. This, with the uncertainty of time: how long is the peak of this pandemic going to last?
The truth is, nobody knows exactly how we will come out of this. We can theorise, we can calculate and speculate based on historical data and look at past global crises similar to this. And we still won’t know for sure.
So then really, what does this mean for our businesses? Good question.
One thing we can be sure of; once we do come out of this crisis, it will be to a whole new world, with a different order, and different needs to facilitate an (ever changing) new way of life. And if we have learnt one thing about the past two global crises, it’s those who took action, those who prepared in the midst of it were not only able to make it to the ‘other side’, they came out winning.
And with all the losses that we have had to endure over the past few months, I believe a lot of us are ready to start working towards a win.
I have broken down some points on what I believe the disruption that is currently happening will mean for the future of business, and how you can prepare to come out of it – stronger.
Time to re-strategize
An HBR article published a few years ago found that during the recessions of 1980, 1990, and 2000, 17% of the 4,700 public companies they studied fared particularly badly: They went bankrupt, went private, or were acquired. But just as striking, 9% of the companies didn’t simply recover in the three years after a recession—they flourished, outperforming competitors by at least 10% in sales and profits growth. A more recent analysis by Bain using data from the Great Recession reinforced that finding. The top 10% of companies in Bain’s analysis saw their earnings climb steadily throughout the period and continue to rise afterward. A third study, by McKinsey, found similar results.
Going in to the more recent global financial crisis in 2007 – 2009, not only did a surprising percentage of companies come out of it with steady growth numbers, quite a number of them actually flourished and experienced exponential growth in the years that followed.
The difference maker was preparation. Among the companies that stagnated in the aftermath of the Great Recession, “few made contingency plans or thought through alternative scenarios,” according to the Bain report. “When the downturn hit, they switched to survival mode, making deep cuts and reacting defensively.” Many of the companies that merely limp through a recession are slower to recover and never really catch up. – Source
We are currently seeing a similar divide among businesses. There are those that are now focused on keeping the business running as much as possible, and as close to the way it was before as they possibly can. Then there are those, including some of my ScaleUp clients, who are looking at the developments within their market, the response and behaviour of their clients and are deciding to go back to the drawing board to re-evaluate their position and strategy.
While some companies should definitely keep doing what they are doing (Zoom, Microsoft, Netflix, takeaway.com a lot of others will need to re-strategize, re-invent themselves; pivot.
So here are the first key steps you can take for your business
- Look for new opportunities and innovate: first, look for new opportunities wherever you can. If the recession is located in one specific geographic area for your particular business, consider expanding to new territory. If your target audience is suffering, change your offering or attract a new audience. If there’s something lacking in your business model, don’t be afraid to reinvent yourself.
A great example of this is that of a local corporate lunch delivery service here in Amsterdam, that went from serving a few hundred clients a week to zero in a matter of days because offices were shutting down as they all started working from home. So the company decided to change their offering. They offered to deliver the lunches to the homes of all the clients employees and thereby retaining their clients. And they started offering their services to families who were now on lock down at home with their kids – attracting a whole new set of clients.
- Digitize your offering: If you weren’t sure if digital was the way to go for your business before now, it’s time to look at your options again. For many businesses there lies a huge opportunity to retain and attract customers by moving your offline services to a digital offering. Think about the high value products and services that you have that you can sell online through your own online store or other platforms, and events that you can host virtually using virtual summit tools, or moving your consultations to digital meeting rooms and increase interaction using collaboration tools. And guess what? It’s been proven likely that you will be able to cut significantly on costs, increase productivity and efficiency to name a few advantages.
- Help those in need: Both consumers and businesses struggle in an economic recession, so find a way to serve those sufferers specifically, with different pricing structure or new opportunities they can leverage to make it through. *This is not the time to commercialise on the back of the crisis – be genuine in your outreach.
- Present an alternative: In a recession, people will make hard choices about what to cut out of their lives. If you can give them a more cost-efficient alternative to what they’re cutting out, you’ll stand to win big.
Pro branding tip: empower your employees to become brand ambassadors: You will be surprised by the number of employees you have working in your company that could be amazing brand ambassadors for your business (really, they all should be) and help drive more of your core clients your way. Question is, do they have your support – or better yet are you cheering them on to do so?
Case study Lin Qingxuan responds to lockdown Corona crisis
For example, cosmetics company Lin Qingxuan was forced to close 40% of its stores during the crisis, including all of its locations in Wuhan. However, the company redeployed its 100+ beauty advisors from those stores to become online influencers who leveraged digital tools, such as WeChat, to engage customers virtually and drive online sales. As a result, its sales in Wuhan achieved 200% growth compared to the prior year’s sales.
The harsh reality is that some businesses may simply not survive if this pandemic takes much longer (do try to apply for government aid if you can). But that doesn’t mean we can’t put in the effort to make the absolute best of it. And who knows, perhaps the shutting down of one business will be your open door to a new business that is relevant and uniquely positioned for the new business climate that awaits us.
Kimberly Ofori: An Entrepreneur, Game changer, ScaleUp Consultant, Strategist and Managing Director at Ofori Inc.
Visit: Kimberly Ofori
Diaspora investments: A must for the development of Africa
Image Source: rupixen.com
It has been three years since his Excellency president Nana Akufo-Addo of Ghana shared some controversial thoughts on Africa’s dependence on aid or support from Europe in a decades long effort to develop the continent.
He was applauded for his bold statement and stance, but many (especially people from the Ghanaian diaspora) thought they were only words. Words they had heard many times before, but without plans or actions backing them. This might be true from their perspective, yet for the current generation of descendants from those who have been sold into slavery, it was good to hear an African leader show some backbone.
“We can no longer continue to make policy for ourselves, in our country, in our region, in our continent based on whatever support that the western world or France, or the European Union can give us. It will not work. It has not worked, and it will not work”.
The Diaspora Is Linked To The Strength of Africa
President Nana Akufo-Addo’s views on European aid are commendable, even if we debate how much he will be able to back up his words with actions.
“The place of the Diaspora, the status of the people in the diaspora, of the African diaspora, is intimately linked with what happens on the continent. An Africa strong and performing, transforms your position, your status here in Europe”.
He was addressing diaspora members in France, but he could have been addressing all people of African descent worldwide. The fact is that his ability to back his words, not exclusively but to an important extent, is contingent on the support he as an African leader receives from the African diaspora.
Remittance Coming From The African Diaspora
As a member from the African diaspora, one might ask: “Are we not supporting enough?”
Ishmeal Lamptey (Source: unsplash.com)
According to the World Bank Sub Saharan Africa received an estimated 48 billion US dollars in remittance funds from the African diaspora in 2019.
A study by Comstock, Iannone, Bhatia published in March 2009 (yes, the phenomenon has been studied for some time now) shows most funds are spend on costs of sustenance (29%), medical costs (16%) and education (12%).
When looking at the order of precedence these costs take in relation to each other, we see that unforeseen costs come first, second are medical costs and the last are for education. This underlines what we all know. The fact that there is often a sense of emergency to these transfers.
The Need To Move From Remittance To Investment In Africa
So, to answer the question of the diaspora, if it is not doing enough…well no. Harsh isn’t it? The fact of the matter is that the remittance funds are our own version of aid to the continent. It is keeping our people our family from dying but it’s not helping with any development.
We, the African diaspora, need to make the transition from remittance to investment. Remittance will always be part of the financial flows, but when seen in relation with Foreign Direct Investments (FDI) from the diaspora, they shouldn’t dominate as they do at present.
Following the content of a few independent journalists, there is now ample proof that at least some in the diaspora are not only willing, but able to move to the continent and start new businesses. But this group is a very small minority. The vast majority will not be able to follow suit and we should not want them to.
The revenues of the use of their human capital is needed to generate the investment flows Africa needs. The challenge Sub Saharan Africa faces is that of aggregation of available funds originating from the diaspora. The funds are clearly there, the industries which need them for we’ve identified, but now we need to create a robust infrastructure to aggregate and get them to their destination.
Like we pointed out in our previous article about thinking sufficiently big; while we keep our eyes on the end goal, we might need to start building one stone at a time. From individual projects, to industries, to the whole economy.
When doing so, we need to keep in mind that Africa is a unique environment. The common instruments of capital allocation used in the world should certainly be our starting point, but not limit our imagination when pooling the diaspora funds and channeling them into the continent.
As we have admonished a few times now; Africa should think BIG. And that also applies to its diaspora. In the coming articles we will continue exploring the idea of “thinking big” in the African context. So please make sure to subscribe to our Newsletter. We invite you to share your thoughts with us on the matter and get a discussion going with us and our other readers.
Article By: Jerrol Cambiel, Chief Executive EU Operations Debnoch Capital
North Ladder Secures $5 Million Series A Financing Round To Accelerate Global Expansion
North Ladder Team (Source: Siddharth Sudhakar)
North Ladder (previously called BuyBack Bazaar), a UAE based secured trading platform for pre-owned luxury assets and electronics, today announced a $5 million Series A funding round led by regional venture capital firm BECO Capital. The new investment will help the company scale up its technology platform, enhance customer experience and pursue further geographic expansion.
The homegrown start-up also revealed that it will begin operating under the new brand name North Ladder effective immediately, representing the company’s strategy of charting new markets and supporting individuals across the globe in their endeavour to elevate their financial situation. The disruptive and innovative technology platform is the first of its kind, providing access to verified buyers of second-hand goods and instant cash. North Ladder currently enables users to sell electronics such as phones, laptops, tablets, and smart watches, as well as luxury assets including watches and cars, with a unique option of buying it back within a few months.
The Series A financing builds on an exceptional year for North Ladder which saw rapid growth of its clients, network of buyers and corporate partnerships. To date, the platform has witnessed over 15,000 transactions in the UAE, with over 85 different nationalities served while earning an impressive 4.9/5 customer satisfaction rating. In 2021, the start-up is looking to establish its presence in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the United States, with a focus on scaling the platform significantly in the next 18 to 24 months.
“North Ladder has demonstrated tremendous success with its unique model of helping customers access immediate funds against their assets. The provision of a seamless and trusted digital platform for the sale of pre-owned goods has immense socially transformative potential at a global scale. We are excited about partnering with them to take their services to the next level,” said Dany Farha, CEO & Managing Partner, BECO Capital.
The company recently appointed Sandeep Shetty, former Managing Director of the core ride hailing business at Careem, as Cofounder and Chief Executive Officer of North Ladder. Prior to Careem he also led the digital transformation program at Emirates NBD and has held leadership positions at McKinsey & Company and GE Capital across India, the United States and the Middle East. Sandeep joins the leadership team of co-founders Pishu Ganglani and Ricky Husaini who together bring years of prior global start-up, financial services, technology and operations experience.
“Our exciting partnership with the region’s leading investor BECO Capital gives us the opportunity to scale operations in the UAE and expand to other strategic markets, with the mission of meaningfully impacting people across all strata of society,” said Sandeep Shetty of North Ladder. “Our global auction brings professional buyers from around the world to compete and provide local customers with the best prices and no hidden surprises.”
Since its launch in 2018, North Ladder has been recognized as one of the “Top 5 innovative start-ups in the MENA region” by PayPal backed accelerator, Village Capital and awarded as an Innovator by Entrepreneur Middle East.
Legacy Premier Foundation Congratulates New World Trade Organisation (WTO) Head Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala
Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala © AFP via Getty Images
The entire team at Legacy Premier Foundation hereby congratulates Dr Ngozi Okonjo Iweala as the new chief of the World Trade Organization (WTO).
With a proud heart and jubilation, we salute our quintessential woman of many feats on this global call to service.
This is a perfect example of a narrative that says “when opportunity meets preparedness success is inevitable”. Madam Director, you are an epitome of this simple quote. Over the years, you’ve carefully built a track record of competence with your records very visible in the public domain.
We are very pleased to send our warmest congratulations on your appointment as the seventh (7th) Director General of the foremost World Trade Organization, also making history as the first African and female to hold this prestigious position.
At this time where the world is battling with the Covid-19 pandemic, with a gradual return to normalcy, there are still some undulating terrains in the global trade landscape. We believe with you at the helm of affairs coupled with 25 years of diplomatic dealings and demonstrated leadership as a World Bank executive, you will saddle the affairs of the WTO and the entire global trade economy through these sensitive times.
We wish you much success in your new post and we look forward to the pleasure of working with you, in the place of making our African continent prominent in the scheme of world trades, and much more rejuvenation of hope that an African has all it takes to get to the zenith of his or her career without any equivocation.
We wish you a resounding success with legendary actions for global impact.
Signed: Dr Remi Duyile, Former VP, Bank of America and Founder, Legacy Premier Foundation
Press Release2 days ago
North Ladder Secures $5 Million Series A Financing Round To Accelerate Global Expansion
Africa speaks18 hours ago
Open Letter to President Joe Biden
Investment20 hours ago
Diaspora investments: A must for the development of Africa
Technology19 mins ago
Three African-American Female Engineers Who Changed Our World