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Why you should work on your post Covid-19 strategy today

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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.

Also Read: Erica Tavares: Passionate About A Greener, Better Future

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Kimberly Ofori

Kimberly Ofori: An Entrepreneur, Game changer, ScaleUp Consultant, Strategist and Managing Director at Ofori Inc.

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Press Release

Journey Wellness, an AI-Enabled, Personalised Healthcare Platform Launches in South Africa

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Journey Wellness Co-Founders, Dr. Jacques Ludik and Lara Wayburne (Image: Nomsa Mdhluli)

Journey Wellness, an AI-Enabled, Personalised Healthcare Platform set to Revolutionize Wellness & Healthcare in South Africa. The Platform will transform business employee benefits and medical schemes’ approach to offering wellness for employees and medical aid members.

A revolutionary new approach to offering Ultra-Personalised, Artificial Intelligence-Enabled Healthcare from tech-trendsetting company Cortex Logic is set to transform the way medical aid schemes, consumers and corporates offering employee benefits as part of their EAP (Employee Assistance Programmes) view their current healthcare offering.

The Journey Wellness platform is perfectly timed to coincide with the current global shift in Healthcare, as the focus moves from a disease-management model to one that encourages optimum health and disease-avoidance, targeting younger as well as existing members with a holistic, pro-active offering.

Corporates and medical schemes are realising that they need to offer their employees and members wellness and EAP benefits that move beyond expensive, reactive, chemical care to cost-effective, proactive preventative primary care.

“Globally, an ever-increasing portion of healthcare spend and focus is shifting to promote wellness and wellbeing, rather than responding to illness,” says Lara Wayburne, a respected Healthcare Actuary consulting to Cortex Logic and part of the development team of the Journey Wellness Platform.

“Healthcare analysts predict that over the coming decade the focus on wellness and wellbeing can reduce overall healthcare costs by as much as 30%.”

“Journey Wellness enables that future by empowering and engaging consumers to better understand the drivers that impact their health and therefore be more actively involved in managing their own health. By doing so, the Journey Wellness ecosystem encourages positive health seeking behaviour, promoting better physical and mental health,” says Wayburne.

The driving force behind Journey Wellness, Dr Jacques Ludik, Founder and CEO of Cortex Logic, who has also recently written a book called ‘Democratizing Artificial Intelligence to Benefit Everyone’, says that the Journey Wellness platform will provide more healthcare, to more people, faster.

“Essentially, Journey is a cost-effective, pro-active, personalised and engaged AI health companion that will improve health outcomes for everyone involved – the medical scheme provider, employers, employees, healthcare providers and ultimately the end-user consumer who will benefit from personalised, proactive healthcare with the added benefits of cost savings all-round,” says Dr Ludik.

Journey Wellness offers a number of benefits for Medical Schemes, Corporates and End-Users:

Employer Groups and Medical Scheme providers will benefit from the cost savings inherent in moving from expensive, reactive, chemical care to cost-effective, proactive preventative primary care for their members and employees. This will result in increased productivity, increased employee engagement, reduced absenteeism and cost-savings to all involved.

Healthcare Providers will benefit from having a 360-degree view of their patients that will improve wellness proactively without costly chemical intervention, usually at the reactive stage and will also empower patients with continuous self-care.

And, Consumers will benefit from a Holistic Wellness Solution and the reduced need for expensive healthcare options, improved wellbeing, rewards for engagement and ultimately having a personalised wellness coach on hand at all times to help them understand their health status and associated risks and better manage their health and improve quality of life.

“Overall, it’s a win-win scenario in which technology, data and analytics foster a collaborative and progressive healthcare environment, creating an ecosystem for improved wellbeing one step at a time that benefits everyone,” says Wayburne.

Journey Wellness has also made an exciting announcement around making the Platform’s Mental Health Module available for free to users from 1 September 2021.

“We realise that the current state of affairs globally, and in South Africa in particular, with pandemic lockdowns and economic uncertainty foremost on our minds, places an enormous amount of pressure on people. So, we’re offering free access to our Mental Health Module to users, where they can access an AI-enabled mental health companion 24/7,” says Dr Ludik.

The Journey Wellness Demo Platform for Corporate Employers and Medical Schemes is available at www.journeywellness.co.za, and for Consumers, the User App is available as a free download for Android and iOS devices at Google Play and App Store. Medical schemes and Employers looking to offer Journey Wellness to their members can interact directly with Journey Wellness by requesting a demo via the website.

 

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Investment

Chaka secures $1.5M pre-seed round to power digital investments and wealth management opportunities across Africa

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Chaka CEO, Tosin Osibodu at a press briefing (Image & Press Release: Chaka)

Chaka is thrilled to announce its $1.5M pre-seed funding round led by Breyer Capital, a global venture firm focused on catalyzing growth in high-impact companies like Spotify, Facebook, and now, Chaka. Other participants in the round are 4DX Ventures, Golden Palm Investments, Future Africa, Seedstars, and Musha Ventures.

Chaka is a technology solutions company on a mission to enable every business and person in Africa to access borderless digital investment and wealth management opportunities. The team combines investment expertise and best-in-class technology to provide reliable digital Investing, trading and wealth management solutions that are easy-to-use and easy-to-integrate.

Their mission is to enable digital border-less investing for African businesses and individuals. They’re powering the digital investment landscape in Africa through partnerships with asset managers, financial technology firms, and regulators with whom we have a shared mission. We achieve this by providing trading solutions that are easy to use and easy to integrate.

With this capital, they will focus on the goals to build a roster of formidable partners and accelerate expansion to other markets within West Africa. This investment also enables them to hire top talent and integrate more advanced functionalities into our investment and wealth management solutions.

Jim Breyer, CEO of Breyer Capital, shared his view on this investment and it illustrates their shared vision: “We are proud to align ourselves with a company that is leveling the investment playing field for Nigerians (and Africans at large). We’re confident in the value Chaka provides through its digital tools, and we look forward to playing our part in supporting Tosin, Bo, Olaolu, and the Chaka team.”

This is a significant milestone for Chaka and could not have come this far without their users, partners, early investors, and a talented, achieving team of Champions.

They see digital investments as a means to boost economic transformation in Africa, and we’re very keen to bring this vision to life.

 

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Manufacturing

Emmanuel Penneh set to lead the Ghanaian team that will re-assemble the first Nissan Navara made in Ghana

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Emmanuel Penneh (Image: Lusawovana Pius- edelman) 

Emmanuel Penneh arrived back in Accra this week, ready to start the next phase of a journey that’s taken three years so far and still has an intensive eight months to run. On Thursday 3 June 2021, the married 44-year-old father of three graduated with his team of 11 Ghanaians from an intense eight-week course at Nissan South Africa’s Rosslyn manufacturing plant outside Pretoria. That was just the first step for them. Now the hard work begins, getting Ghana’s brand-new Nissan assembly plant in Tema, outside Accra, ready to begin re-assembling the first ever Nissan Navaras to be built in Africa early in the New Year.

The graduation is a critical milestone in a process that began back in 2018 with the signing of the landmark Memorandum of Understanding between Nissan and the Government of Ghana, followed by the drafting and promulgation of Ghana’s automotive development policy the following year and then the appointment of Japan Motors Trading Company (JMTC), as Nissan’s preferred partner last year to ensure that the new facility will be 100% Ghana owned and run.

Penneh is up for the challenge. Speaking at the special graduation ceremony held at the Rosslyn, SKD plant, he said he and his team were proud and honoured, excited and delighted. “This is a historic evolution for Nissan Ghana, Nissan South Africa and Nissan worldwide. This is the plant where the Nissan Navara is being made for the first time in Africa, by Africans for Africa, now we are going home to re-assemble the first Navara made in Ghana for Ghana by Ghanaians!”

Penneh will be the plant manager. It’s a feather in the cap for the 10-year JMTC veteran. Before being approached to lead the team, Penneh was service co-ordinator for the group’s aftersales operations, overseeing five workshops across Ghana. He’s been in the automotive industry for 14 years, with four years at Man Truck Ghana before he joined JMTC.

“It’s exciting,” he says, “it gives a new dimension to my career. After concentrating on the after sales aspect, I’m now coming into the industry that actually builds the vehicles.”

The eight-week training that the team underwent in South Africa had been gruelling, he said, they had no idea what to expect. “It was challenging coming fresh into this industry and discovering so many processes and rules and mastering them, but it’s been exciting.”

He’s exceptionally proud of the team he led to South Africa and the way they’ve conducted themselves. “This (the creation of a Nissan assembly plant in Ghana) is going to be a game changer for ourselves, but also for our country, creating jobs, upskilling people and creating opportunities for local brand ownership.”

 

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