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
SSC Capital Tanzania teams up with World’s first Halal angel network to tap the fast growing African Market
SSC Capital Founder & CEO, Salum Awadh (Source: Halal Angels Network)
Halal Angels Network is among the first to penetrate the $5 trillion Halal consumer market has teamed up SSC Capital of Tanzania to tap the fast growing African market.
According to Brookings Institute “More than 80 percent of Africa’s population growth over the next few decades will occur in cities, making it the fastest-urbanizing region in the world. In total, we expect annual spending by African consumers and businesses to reach $6.66 trillion by 2030, up from $4 trillion in 2015.
Halal Angels Network was launched to promote innovation, entrepreneurship and start-ups, and inspire investors across the world to tap into a sector that will be worth $9.71 trillion by 2025 (Reuters, 2019).
The angel network is adopting new, innovative technology to digitise the way they present, distribute and manage Halal-based deals. In doing so, angel investors will benefit from greater access to deal flow which can be profiled based on their interests, risk appetite and current portfolio.
Salum Awadh, Founder & CEO, SSC Capital said that “Opportunities for investing in game-changing start-ups are ever increasing, we currently see many solutions by entrepreneurs coming to the market with disruptive and high-growth potential business models. But all this will be massive if these entrepreneurs get the right investment, with the right mentorship, at the right time. The Halal Angels Network and SSC Capital are forming this great potential partnership, sharing decades of industry experience and exposure, and we are hopeful that it will also change the landscape of halal angel investing globally.”
Dr Tausif Malik, Founder of Halal Angels Network, said: “With over 1.5 billion Muslims in the world, the Halal industry offers tremendous opportunities across the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia. Based on the available data & research we focused on signing up our first partnership in Africa with SSC Capital.”
He further added that we felt that SSC Capital was the right partner to tap the East African Startup and Halal market.
Both Halal Angels Network and SSC Capital work together to co-host events in Africa, help connect investors with businesses, entrepreneurs, startups and offer consulting services.
Halal Angels Network is now calling for angel investors countries to join them and discover over 1,000 investment opportunities within the flourishing market – from pharmaceuticals and modest fashion through to food and tourism. Recently Halal Angels Network had tied up Fintech major Delio to use their digital platform showcase Halal-based deals to a much more international audience, connecting angel investors across the world not just with deals, but also with each other.
African Infrastructure Investment Managers appoints Vuyo Ntoi and Sola Lawson as new co-CEOs
African Infrastructure Investment Managers new co-CEOs, Vuyo Ntoi and Sola Lawson (Source: AIIM Africa)
London and Cape Town, 3 August 2020: African Infrastructure Investment Managers (AIIM), a member of Old Mutual Alternative Investments and Africa’s most experienced infrastructure manager, has appointed two joint-managing directors to be based in Cape Town and Lagos, following the retirement of the company’s previous CEO.
Vuyo Ntoi and Sola Lawson, have been appointed from within the business, and will continue to sit in their South Africa and Nigeria offices respectively, as two of AIIM’s key markets in sub-Saharan Africa. As AIIM’s new joint-MD’s, they take over from Jurie Swart, who has been CEO of AIIM since 2014 and recently elected to take early retirement to focus on a new challenge outside the AIIM business.
Commenting on the new roles, Paul Boynton, non-executive chairman of the Board at AIIM said: “Vuyo and Sola have both been integral members of the AIIM team for many years and bring with them extensive and varied investment experience and leadership skills. On behalf of the entire Board, I am looking forward to working even closer with them in their new joint-MD roles as the business continues to expand and move forward.”
Vuyo Ntoi said, “I am very excited to step into this new joint role, continuing to work with Sola and the Exco team to drive the strategy that we have had in place, which has and continues to deliver excellent outcomes for our investors and stakeholders.”
Sola Lawson added, “I am honoured to take on the role of joint-MD of AIIM and look forward to working closely with Vuyo and the wider team to continue to build on the strong foundations developed throughout Jurie’s time as CEO and to help progress AIIM’s strategic journey.”
Vuyo Ntoi has been a member of the senior management team at AIIM for over a decade and is the co-portfolio manager of AIIM’s IDEAS Managed Fund, one of South Africa’s largest domestic infrastructure equity funds. He was also involved in the initial roll out of the business across the continent and has led and participated in high profile and pioneering projects in South Africa, Ghana, Nigeria and Mali.
Sola Lawson joined AIIM in 2011, founding the Nigeria office, AIIM’s first permanent establishment in Africa outside of South Africa. He has been a member of the senior management team at AIIM since joining and is a member of the IDEAS investment committee. Sola has played a leading role in originating, executing and managing c. USD500 million of AIIM-managed fund investments across Africa, serving on the board of directors of several AIIM portfolio companies within the digital infrastructure, power or renewables and midstream sectors. Prior to joining AIIM, Sola was a member of the infrastructure funds team at Macquarie Group, and prior to that worked at PwC London.
Issued by: AIIM Africa
Lindelwe Lesley Ndlovu, African Risk Capacity (ARC) CEO Shares Goals, Disaster Risk Solutions, COVID-19 and Future
Lindelwe Lesley Ndlovu is an executive with extensive international experience in insurance and investment management. He is currently the CEO of the African Risk Capacity “ARC” Ltd. ARC Ltd is a specialist insurance company that provides parametric insurance coverage to African countries against extreme weather events and natural disasters. In this interview with Alaba Ayinuola, Lesley shares his goals, disaster risk solutions, COVID-19 and the future. Excerpt.
Alaba: Could you briefly tell us about ARC Ltd and the gap its filling in Africa?
Lesley: ARC is a specialist insurance company that was established by the African Union to help African governments improve their capacities to better plan, prepare, and respond to extreme weather events and natural disasters, and adapt to climate change. ARC works through collaboration and innovative finance, to enable countries to strengthen their disaster risk management systems and access rapid and predictable financing when disaster strikes to protect the food security and livelihoods of their vulnerable populations.
From 2014 to 2019, ARC cumulatively provided drought insurance coverage worth US$590 million to insure 59 million vulnerable people in Member States and paid out US$61 million in insurance claims.
Alaba: As its new Chief Executive, what are your set milestone in terms of growth and impact?
Lesley: Our target is to achieve US$100 million in gross written premiums in the next 5 years, providing gross insurance coverage of US$1 billion. This level of scale will allow us to reach 150 million people in Africa and more effectively use insurance to protect people against food insecurity brought about by natural disasters such as droughts and floods, the frequency and severity of natural disasters is increasing as a result of climate change.
Alaba: Establishing a risk pooling insurer is clearly a difficult task. What can other Regions learn from the ARC concept?
Lesley: The idea of sovereign risk pooling is catching on globally, the Caribbean Catastrophe Risk Insurance Facility was the first pool set up in 2007 after the devastating hurricanes suffered by the Caribbean countries. ARC Ltd was set up in 2014, subsequently other risk pools have been set up for the Pacific Island nations, the Pacific Catastrophe Risk Assessment and Financing Initiative and SEADRIF in South East Asia.
The success of the risk pools depends a great deal on political support by the member countries and a clearly demonstrable value for all the pool members.
Alaba: What are the benefits of your products for vulnerable member sovereign?
Lesley: The main benefit of working with ARC Ltd, is that we are owned by the African countries and therefore exist to cater to their unique needs. We are able to build customized insurance solutions for each country. Our parametric insurance product pays claims very quickly, typically within 10 days of the insured event, giving governments timely funding to start the relief and recovery efforts. Furthermore, ARC Ltd has an Agency arm which provides capacity building for countries to help them understand the risks that they face and development mitigation strategies.
Alaba: Could you discuss more on The Extreme Climate Facility (XCF) initiative?
Lesley: The XCF is an exciting and very innovative concept. The main objective of the Extreme Climate Facility (XCF) is to reduce vulnerability to extreme events by providing enabling conditions for increased adaptation investment and improved risk transfer. The XCF structure combines a green bond and a catastrophe bond, issued centrally on behalf of member states can address critical barriers to adaptation investment and increase post-disaster funding.
Alaba: How is the current global pandemic affecting ARC? Are you Post COVID-19 prepared?
Lesley: Financially, the COVID induced volatility in the financial markets reduced the market value of our investment portfolio. However, our investment portfolio is made up of high quality, investment grade bonds which we fully expect will pay at par, the default risk remains extremely low.
From a business perspective, our sovereign clients had to respond to COVID 19 and this put a tremendous strain on their finances and in some instances, negatively impacted their ability to pay insurance premiums. Furthermore, due to the lockdown restrictions it was challenging to sustain ongoing interactions with the governments. However, the ability to work remotely has improved over time and the lockdown restrictions are slowly being eased.
All the teams within ARC Ltd have been able to adapt to working remotely and there has been minimal disruption to our activities.
ARC will be launching an insurance product covering Outbreaks and Epidemics, the insurance payouts will provide the funding required for an early and effective government response.
Alaba: How does the use of technology provide opportunities in the fact of natural disaster?
Lesley: Insurance is a data driven industry, data enables us to understand and calibrate risks, to develop appropriate mitigation measures. In parametric insurance we rely on satellites for rainfall data and we use technology to model and predict losses that arise from weather events. This data can be used to anticipate disasters and take timely action to prevent them or reduce their severity.
Alaba: What is the future for ARC in terms of its size, products and impact?
Lesley: ARC Ltd is currently diversifying its product range to include coverage against floods, tropical cyclones and outbreaks & epidemics. We already have a very successful drought insurance product which has been the mainstay of the company. The new products are essential to more holistically meet the needs of our clients and to ensure diversification on our balance sheet. These additional products will allow us to reach our ambition of US$100 million in gross revenues while ensuring that we are more relevant and credible in meeting the needs of our clients.
Alaba: As an industry leader, how can Africa better develop and position its insurance market?
Lesley: Insurance penetration, which is the ratio of insurance premiums to GDP remains rather low in Africa at 1 to 3% compared to over 10% in most developed markets. This low penetration is linked to limited knowledge of insurance as a risk management tool, lack of trust of insurance companies and products that are too complex and do not fully meet the needs and expectations of customers. The insurance industry plays an importance role in the economy by making households more resilient to shocks and giving entrepreneurs’ confidence to launch new ventures, in addition insurance companies are long term investors in the financial markets.
To grow the insurance industry, governments need to create an enabling regime through risk based supervision of insurance companies and the insurance industry needs to develop appropriate and relevant products and build distribution systems that make it easier and more cost effective to reach customers.
Alaba: How do you relax outside work? Tell us one of your favourite destinations in Africa? Why?
Lesley: I am an avid long distance runner, I run about 80 to 100km every week. Running clears my mind and makes me sharper and more focused. My favorite destination is Diani Beach in Kenya; it has dreamy unspoilt white sand beaches that stretch out as far as the eye can see.
B I O G R A P H Y
Lindelwe Lesley Ndlovu is an executive with extensive international experience in insurance and investment management. He is currently the CEO of the African Risk Capacity “ARC” Ltd. ARC Ltd is a specialist insurance company that provides parametric insurance coverage to African countries against extreme weather events and natural disasters.
Lesley spent close to a decade in various senior management roles in insurance and asset management with the AXA Group in London, Paris and Singapore, including as CEO of a Lloyd’s of London insurance syndicate, Head of Corporate Development for AXA Global Asset Management and Chief Investment Officer for AXA Singapore.
Prior to joining the AXA Group, he was Vice President, Investments at AXIS Capital in Bermuda, as part of an institutional investment team managing US$15 billion in a global multi-asset investment portfolio. He began his professional career with Deloitte, where he had various assignments in corporate finance, audit, tax advisory. He currently serves as a Non-Executive Director for various financial services companies around the world.
Lindelwe Lesley Ndlovu is a graduate of Christ Church, University of Oxford in England and at the Institut Européen d’Administration des Affaires (INSEAD) in France. He is a CFA charter holder, a member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of England & Wales and a member of the Institute of Directors.